Major Washington hotel says golfers have provided a massive boost after ‘Freedom Day’ disappointment

Bosses at one of Wearside’s leading hotels and wedding venues have spoken about the Government’s decision to delay the end of Covid restrictions, saying it is a ‘hammer blow’, but that the venue is already bouncing back.

Saturday, 19th June 2021, 4:55 am

Management at the George Washington Hotel in High Usworth in Washington admit the Government’s decision to postpone “Freedom Day” from June 21 to July 19 would do no favours for the hospitality industry as a whole.

The four-star hotel, golf course and spa has had to furlough staff over the past year, as well as come up with new and innovative ways of keeping income streams going.

However, they also say that within days of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of a further delay, staff at the hotel had adjusted and put the recent disappointment behind them.

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The George Washington Hotel has an 18-hole golf course, which has been a big help during the pandemic. JPI image.
The George Washington Hotel has an 18-hole golf course, which has been a big help during the pandemic. JPI image.

General manager Ian Gray told the Echo: “We were hoping against hope that June 21st would go according to plan and we would be allowed to get back to normal.

“An awful lot of preparation had been put in, but you could see as the number of cases of the Delta variant was steadily climbing that the odds were shortening on a further postponement.

“It’s a hammer blow for the hospitality industry, not just in terms of revenue lost, but in terms of the morale of staff who have been through so much over the past year.”

The hotel’s 18-hole championship golf course has been a big help financially. It has been thriving amid the restrictions of the past few months.

George Washington Hotel general manager Ian Gray remains confident about the future.

But Ian says many hotels are not in such a fortunate position and that he sympathises with venues which have been forced to close through no fault of their own.

He added: “The golf course has been a lifeline for us, even though restrictions have been in place.

"Staff and members have observed the rules and worked hard to make sure the golf side of things runs as smoothly as possible.

“But many hotels simply don’t have such facilities and for them, after so long closed, this next month is going to be especially tough.”

Other parts of Washington’s hospitality have also reacted, with one pub landlord describing the situation as “an extension to the nightmare”.

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