Buying a hospitality business in the middle of the pandemic may lead to some established hotel owners raising their eyebrows.

Even more so when they hear the new owners had little to no experience in the industry. Yet that’s exactly what brothers Chris and Rob Vincent did… and the biggest surprise of all is that it’s turning out to be quite the success.

The brothers may not have had hospitality experience but they have been in business all their life – first helping out at their parents’ petrol station on the A6 near Carnforth, then running it.

When they sold Mossdale Service Station at the end of 2018/early 2019 they immediately started looking for another venture. After a year they came across the Crooklands hotel near Kendal, just a few miles from where they live in Arnside. 

They were within days of purchasing it when the first Covid lockdown hit in spring 2020. In the August they finally closed the deal following further negotiations.

“We weren’t looking for a hotel but we knew the business and we knew the area. We live around here and we had a good feeling about it and we knew we could improve it,” said Rob.

With the various Covid lockdowns their refurbishment plan took place much quicker than scheduled. Chris said: “We had a two to three-year plan that we ended up doing in three months. We were shut so we just could, it was too good an opportunity not to.”

They refurbished the bar and two restaurant areas, removed carpets, put in new flooring and reopened at Christmas wondering what their regulars would say.

“In the first 12 months we wondered if people would come back,” said Rob. “And as new owners we wondered if what we’d done would be well received, new owners, new refurbishment. We have a lot of regular customers who have been coming for a long time and how would they take to it? And us?” said Chris. 

They updated the booking service which used to be done in a large paper diary and they’ve replaced the waiting staff’s pads with iPads, upgraded the website and been more active on social media.

The business has 31 hotel rooms and the brothers say occupancy has increased by ten per cent and in the restaurant it’s increased 20 per cent year on year since they took over.

Many of their hotel customers and often larger groups gather in the restaurants because of its easy location just a mile from the M6.