Travel Information: COVID-19

Policy and Status update: 02.04.2020

Policy:

We confirm that 31 of 35 wedding clients in timeline 27.3.2020 – 07.06.2020 have now been successfully enabled with new wedding dates later in 2020, or early in 2021- For those 4 wedding clients who still remain with bookings in place, we will continue to hold your dates, and we will only require to cancel with 7 days notice. All clients who have postponed dates have been able to so, by directly transferring all event planning, and without incurring any arising financial implications from Balbirnie House. We thank all clients who have worked with us, in what has certainly been a highly pressurised circumstance last week for our Special Events planning team.

This Thursday at 10am we will be able to begin discussing postponing dates 8.6.2020 – 14.6.2020 inclusive. Given that our Special Events diary is now so incredibly busy for late 2020 and the first 3 months of 2021, we will open up for possible new date postponement for clients in the week above, with dates in April, May and June 2021.

Moving ahead, we will continue to ‘roll this system’ weekly, thereby allowing all future clients a timeline of more than 2 months contemplation.

On 9th April at 10am we will open up to considering dates in the timeline between 15.06.20 and 21.06.20 inclusive.

On 16th April at 10am we will open up to considering dates in the timeline between 22.06.20 and 28.06.20 inclusive.

On 23rd April at 10am we will open up to considering dates in the timeline between 29.06.20 and 05.07.20 inclusive.

On 30th April at 10am we will open up to considering dates in the timeline between 06.07.20 and 12.07.20 inclusive.

For clients with Terms and Conditions Letters of Agreement which make provision to do so, we kindly ask, that all wedding clients who are due interim £2,500 deposits, make the payment on the due date, 6 months in advance of the wedding day.

In terms of phase 3 additional ‘final payment advance deposits’, we are only going to be invoicing clients when we are categorically assured that we will be fully open.

We also highlight that in the last two and a bit weeks, and absolutely remarkably in the circumstances, we have also taken bookings and deposits for 15 brand new future wedding bookings. All of these completely new clients were of course able previously, to physically visit the house.

For new future clients ahead starting from the very beginnings of contemplating making a booking, it would be unusual (although certainly not unheard of at Balbirnie House), for wedding clients to make a booking without firstly visiting the house. Whilst we are not currently scheduling any new client meetings within the premises itself, we highlight our lovely new ultra HD tour of the househttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPt5-8ZreOc&feature=youtu.be  – And additionally, our Special Events planning team will be delighted to chat with you personally via Zoom. To arrange a face-to-face digital chat please email [email protected]

We continue to liaise digitally with all future clients, for all wedding planning. This can be either via email, or Zoom. We suggest a common sense approach, say 3 months in advance …

Status:

We are fully closed to all guests. Thanking all brigade who have been involved with the very significant process of closing, all kitchens have been emptied of stock, and left completely cleaned to house standards. All bars have had all stock removed, with excess stock returned to suppliers.

Environmentally, our heating systems are switched as low as is possible.

The premises are fully secured, and all CCTV systems in and around the house are fully functioning. We have security personnel deployed within the house, with 24 hours per day security in place. For post deliveries etc., mobile phone numbers for each shift security, are on the front door.

Whilst most of our hotel brigade is now in furlough, we only retain necessary key personnel in place, so as to ensure the building itself is secured, we meet insurance compliance, and ensure strategic planning for economic survival. Thereby the Grade A Listed national treasure is being fully safeguarded, and kept on operational capability and standby for re-opening.

Moving ahead, and where possible to do so, key admin personnel will be working from home. We are fortunate in that we retain multiple licences, enabling our tech suppliers, to enable us to hook-in remotely, mirroring PC screens, and thereby enabling us to work on all aspects of our internal PC systems, from home. Aye, the wonders of modern technology, long gone are the days when I started here back in 1992, we had one PC and a typewriter!

Financially, we are now in full progress with HSBC, who have provided us with all relevant information within the national Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Our company directors are satisfied that Balbirnie House Hotel Ltd satisfies the scheme criteria. We are working as quickly as is possible to do so, so as to make submission, inclusive of making all existing supplier payments, all current and future direct debit payments, and all company payroll funding either direct from our company for those key members of the brigade who need to keep working, or via government rebate scheme for those who are in furlough status.

Moving ahead, thanking HSBC in advance for all further assistance, to enable the hotel to make all outgoing payments. Our directors will arrange Loan Scheme funding, we’ll then be on standby, and we cannot wait to see the day that Balbirnie House re-opens for trade.

Our thoughts with one and all.

With all best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell / MD Balbirnie House

_________________________________________________

Policy and Status update: 24.3.2020

Policy:

We confirm that 31 of 35 wedding clients in timeline 27.3.2020 – 31.5.2020 have now been successfully enabled with new wedding dates later in 2020, or early in 2021- For those 4 wedding clients who still remain with bookings in place, we will continue to hold your dates, and we will only require to cancel with 7 days notice. All clients who have postponed dates have been able to so, by directly transferring all event planning, and without incurring any arising financial implications from Balbirnie House. We thank all clients who have worked with us, in what has certainly been a highly pressurised circumstance last week for our Special Events planning team.

This Thursday at 10am we will be able to begin discussing postponing dates 1.6.2020 – 7.6.2020 inclusive. Given that our Special Events diary is now so incredibly busy for late 2020 and the first 3 months of 2021, we will open up for possible new date postponement for clients in the week above, with dates in April, May and June 2021.

Moving ahead, we will continue to ‘roll this system’ weekly, thereby allowing all future clients a timeline of more than 2 months contemplation.

For clients with Terms and Conditions Letters of Agreement which make provision to do so, we kindly ask, that all wedding clients who are due interim £2,500 deposits, make the payment on the due date, 6 months in advance of the wedding day.

In terms of phase 3 additional ‘final payment advance deposits’, we are only going to be invoicing clients when we are categorically assured that we will be fully open.

We also highlight that in the last two and a bit weeks, and absolutely remarkably in the circumstances, we have also taken bookings and deposits for 15 brand new future wedding bookings. All of these completely new clients were of course able previously, to physically visit the house.

For new future clients ahead starting from the very beginnings of contemplating making a booking, it would be unusual (although certainly not unheard of at Balbirnie House), for wedding clients to make a booking without firstly visiting the house. Whilst we are not currently scheduling any new client meetings within the premises itself, we highlight our lovely new ultra HD tour of the househttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPt5-8ZreOc&feature=youtu.be  – And additionally, our Special Events planning team will be delighted to chat with you personally via Zoom. To arrange a face-to-face digital chat please email [email protected]

We continue to liaise digitally with all future clients, for all wedding planning. This can be either via email, or Zoom. We suggest a common sense approach, say 3 months in advance …

 

 

Status:

We are fully closed to all guests. Thanking all brigade who have been involved with the very significant process of closing, all kitchens have been emptied of stock, and left completely cleaned to house standards. All bars have had all stock removed, with excess stock returned to suppliers.

Environmentally, our heating systems are switched as low as is possible.

The premises are fully secured, and all CCTV systems in and around the house are fully functioning. We have security personnel deployed within the house, with 24 hours per day security in place. For post deliveries etc., mobile phone numbers for each shift security, are on the front door.

Whilst most of our hotel brigade is now in furlough, we only retain necessary key personnel in place, so as to ensure the building itself is secured, we meet insurance compliance, and ensure strategic planning for economic survival. Thereby the Grade A Listed national treasure is being fully safeguarded, and kept on operational capability and standby for re-opening.

Moving ahead, and where possible to do so, key admin personnel will be working from home. We are fortunate in that we retain multiple licences, enabling our tech suppliers, to enable us to hook-in remotely, mirroring PC screens, and thereby enabling us to work on all aspects of our internal PC systems, from home. Aye, the wonders of modern technology, long gone are the days when I started here back in 1992, we had one PC and a typewriter!

Financially, we are now in full progress with HSBC, who have provided us with all relevant information within the national Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Our company directors are satisfied that Balbirnie House Hotel Ltd satisfies the scheme criteria. We are working as quickly as is possible to do so, so as to make submission, inclusive of making all existing supplier payments, all current and future direct debit payments, and all company payroll funding either direct from our company for those key members of the brigade who need to keep working, or via government rebate scheme for those who are in furlough status.

Moving ahead, thanking HSBC in advance for all further assistance, to enable the hotel to make all outgoing payments. Our directors will arrange Loan Scheme funding, we’ll then be on standby, and we cannot wait to see the day that Balbirnie House re-opens for trade.

Our thoughts with one and all.

With all best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell / MD Balbirnie House

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Update 21.3.2020 *following temporary government-enforced closure of UK hospitality*

Yesterday at 5.15pm the UK government ordered the closure of all UK restaurants and bars. As we are unable to serve guests, we have therefore temporarily closed Balbirnie House. A full statement is on our Facebook page. Ours will be ‘soft close status’, meaning that the hotel is secured 24 hrs each day, premises are maintained, and our Special Events planning office remains in situ, either physically or virtually, doing all we can for our existing future clients. We also retain all infrastructure in readiness for re-opening.

We also continue to accept wedding bookings for brand new clients. Indeed, in the last 2 weeks we have taken 12 brand new wedding bookings. We will continue to monitor government instruction, however for the meantime we will not be arranging new client meetings within Balbirnie House. Our special events team planning team will be absolutely delighted to liaise directly in the meantime, using ‘Facetime technology’, and of course we also have available – our ultra HDR tour of Balbirnie House. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPt5-8ZreOc&feature=youtu.be

Many existing wedding clients 27.3.2020 – 31.5.2020 have already successfully postponed weddings, with re-scheduled dates later in 2020, or early 2021. Our special events planning team will continue to do all possible, to enable any further clients who are still holding dates in this timeline, to re-schedule into the future. Please bear in mind when contacting us, we are in progress literally, with the successful shifting of a Hospitality mountain. We kindly request that all clients allow our team time to get back in touch with you as required, in such challenging and unprecedented circumstances.

We are now additionally faced however, with the reality of having to physically cancel weddings and private dining special events, indeed our first such cancellations are sadly for today, and tomorrow. It may well be the case that some wedding clients wish to fully retain existing bookings, in the hope that the UK government lifts restrictions and we are able to re-open. With immediate effect, we therefore confirm that we will action our cancellation policy with a rolling 7 days notice. This means that we will very sadly require to cancel any weddings which remain booked at Balbirnie House, with 7 days notice. We will be directly in contact with any clients finding themselves in this circumstance.

Our thoughts with one and all.

With all best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell / MD Balbirnie House

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Policy update: 19.3.2020

We thank everyone who has messaged Balbirnie House, with kindness and such an understanding that our amazing in-house Special Events planning team are doing everything possible for our clients, during what are clearly unprecedented circumstances.

We have already successfully enabled many April and May 2020 clients to postpone weddings, and secure new dates later in 2020, or early in 2021.

Whist we very much hope that everything will be ‘back to normal’, for the beginning of June, we also need to fully address all aspects ongoing, doing absolutely everything possible for all clients.

In addition to the 17.3.2020 published information below, we will now proceed into the scope for the future beyond 31.5.2020, as follows.

Starting next week, each Thursday at 10am we will review each week beyond 31.5.2020, on a weekly basis.

We will therefore determine potentials to postpone, for those clients with dates 1.6.2020 – 7.6.2020 inclusive, on Thursday 26 March 10am.

This will allow scope for all future wedding clients, to have advance contemplation, of more than 2 months.

With all best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell / MD Balbirnie House 19.3.2020

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Covid 19 Update: 17.3.2020 11.30am

Balbirnie House Hotel is fully open for business. As things stand we have no plans whatsoever, to do anything other than remain fully open for business.

As of yesterday we are aware that the UK Prime Minister has advised citizens not to visit restaurants or pubs, and to avoid social interaction. However, there is no government instruction confirming mandatory closures for the Hospitality sector. We continue to await any further government updates.

Over recent days we have received very significant numbers of cancellations for individual restaurant and bedroom reservations, as well as for private dining special events. Our company directors have therefore already actioned strategic in-house planning, to ensure our company is operating as efficiently as possible, in circumstances which have never been seen since Balbirnie House opened as a hotel back in 1989.

We have received no direct government recommendation for postponing or cancelling any upcoming activities, meetings or events; however we are monitoring the situation and will follow advice and guidance from all relevant government agencies, including Health Protection Scotland, with intense scrutiny.

Along with our tourism and hospitality industry colleagues, we also continue to track breaking news across Europe, as governments continue to shape policies in relation to Covid 19, and we note many systemic government-ordered shutdowns of cafes, bars and restaurants.

We acknowledge that whilst we have desire to continue trading, this desire is now set against accelerating and highly alarming circumstances, whereby we firstly have a combined responsibility and duty of care for our brigade, our suppliers, and our guests.

With regards to weddings in particular, we have received multiple communications from near future wedding clients within the next calendar month and beyond, especially concerned at the ability of wedding guests to travel to Scotland, from areas elsewhere which have travel restrictions, especially from overseas. These communications are arriving at Balbirnie House, very understandably with very real and emotional concerns, and we are absolutely focussed on doing all we can proactively do, to assist all clients in this situation.

Additionally, as the double recipients of Haute Grandeur’s best-in-world global awards for Best Destination Wedding Retreat, and Best Destination Wedding Hotel, we feel completely obliged to deliver our best-in-world answers and solutions, for clients who are finding themselves caught in such truly unprecedented circumstances. Our thoughts are especially with wedding clients who are currently faced with a prospect of having a wedding taking place, whilst older relatives are being advised to self-isolate, and hence unable to attend.

Under existing terms and conditions, so long as Balbirnie House remains fully open, cancellation policies remain fully applicable. We appreciate the situation we are all seeing unfolding, is changing by the day, and we are driven simply to do our best for all clients.  We highlight that whilst we are not obligated to propose changes, by doing nothing this provides no solutions for our clients. So, we are going to act as decisively as possible.

So, here are our best proposed solutions.

  • As we are technically fully open for business, we firstly refer any wedding clients who would wish to directly cancel their wedding, to all existing Terms and Conditions within all client existing documentation. This will remain in place so long as we remain open for business.
  • If we are physically compelled to be unable to accommodate hotel guests by official government order, then we especially highlight:

8.2 If we require to cancel your reservation we will notify you in writing at your home address. We will refund all monies paid by you. Please note that we will only cancel your reservation in very extreme circumstances, such as, in the event of a fire or flood which renders Balbirnie House unsuitable for public access.

If this circumstance arises, we will do everything we possibly can, to assist any such clients finding themselves in this predicament, in securing an alternative future date at Balbirnie House.

  • Initiating with dates applicable 27.3.2020 – 31.5.2020 inclusive. Recognising unprecedented circumstances and with immediate effect, with every ounce of our goodwill in Hospitality, and our complete and utter devotion to our clients, should it be desired by any clients, today we offer all wedding clients with weddings taking place in these dates, the opportunity to transfer the wedding date to a date later in 2020, or in the first 3 months of 2021. Most simply put, we will be absolutely delighted to pull out every stop we possibly can, to work with clients to re-arrange the intended special occasion on a later date. The existing contracted Terms and Conditions can simply be assigned via email agreement to a later date, with all dates of course subject to availability. Our Special Events planning department are here to offer any clients every assistance for any such re-scheduling.
  • As at today, we are very hopeful to be back to ‘business as usual’ 1.6.2020 onwards, but we will continue to review all circumstances.

We also highlight today, that the entire UK hotel sector has no Business Interruption insurance cover whatsoever, in the event of closures due to Corona Virus. The disease has seemingly only very recently become classified by Scotland (and then Westminster) governments, as infectious, but this status is not mirrored in any hotel’s insurance.

If we do need to close to guests, we will therefore then be temporarily entering into uncharted territory. From what we can see in other countries, enforced closures and lockdowns to create social exclusion, are extending into a period of a few weeks, perhaps further.

As it stands today, if we do need to close to hotel guests (enforced by government), we will intend ‘soft closing’ for our hotel brigade. Specifically, we will for example obviously need to keep the premises fully secured, and grounds fully maintained. Our prospective future new clients are already able to take an Ultra HD tour, and our ongoing future Special Events planning can be delivered remotely.

Our company directors consider our company to be fortunate to retain company banking facilities with HSBC, which has now been the case for many years. We are enormously thankful to HSBC for having already been very proactively involved, in keeping us informed of evolving reaction to the pandemic, and we are hugely comforted today, to be advised that HSBC have already created a £5billion Package of Support for UK clients. Should it be the case that we are compelled to temporarily close by government instruction, our directors will be absolutely committed to controlling all ongoing costs, prior to then setting our re-opening date.

Our company directors are further comforted today, to highlight that as at March 2020 Balbirnie House Hotel Ltd has an A-classified Very Low Risk CreditSafe UK company credit rating, of 83 out of 100. This compares to Scotland’s average of 57.95 in 2020.

‘I have never seen any private hotel with a credit rating as high as an 83. The directors should be very proud of what has been achieved’.

Kyle Jones, Business Consultant, CreditSafe UK

Such circumstances have arisen due to our never-ending focus on Balbirnie House, and doing all we can to safeguard the property. We would hope that facts such as these can assist future clients, providing measures of comfort.

With all best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell/ MD Balbirnie House 17.3.2020

 

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With COVID-19 developing in so many countries around the world, our commitment is to adhere to the strictest of W.H.O advice, and the protocols advised by local and international authorities.

We as a company have put into place the following procedures to help limit the spread into our hotel and to our guests and employees.

  • All of our employees are fully aware of the current requirements and are undertaking extreme levels of health and safety procedure to ensure that the highest possible hygiene standards are maintained, throughout every aspect of our hotel.
  • Hand sanitisers have been placed throughout the building and we advise staff and guests to use these.
  • All keys are sanitised daily when returned from a guest.
  • Staff are advised to wash hands with soap and water at regular intervals throughout their shift.
  • We have suspended shaking hands with potential guests and visitors to the hotel and have also suspended our tradition of in-house greetings as well (fist bumps) until the threat is over.
  • Additional signage has been placed around the hotel to advise guests of the guidance from NHS Scotland
  • We advised guests that we will prefer card payments only in the hotel to limit the interaction with money for both guests and staff.
  • We advise staff that have any symptoms for the coronavirus to stay home and seek medical attention as per the advice from NHS.
  • As part of our precautions, we have introduced contactless thermometers at our reception, any guests who wish to use these to check temperatures of themselves or their families are welcome to do so.
  • As part of our precautions, we have introduced contactless thermometers at our brigade entrance.
  • Any member of staff returning from the affected areas abroad – or those who have family members or housemates recently returned from these regions – have automatically been asked to self-quarantine for fourteen days.

At this moment in time we have received no recommendation for postponing or cancelling any upcoming activities, meetings or events; however, we are monitoring the situation and will follow advice and guidance from all relevant government agencies, including Health Protection Scotland with intense scrutiny.

We would like to highlight that we can liaise with clients remotely if required and can offer virtual show rounds via our video tour, here.

It is of vital importance for us to be in a position to ensure that any and all procedures are in place to support the health and well-being of our customers and we will act accordingly to minimise any risks posed by COVID-19. Key efforts to contain COVID-19 is good hygiene practice and we urge everyone to follow the guidance from NHS Scotland:

  • Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze
  • Bin the tissue
  • To kill germs, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel

Further health advice, including what you should do in the event of developing symptoms and self-isolation, is available on the NHS Inform Scotland website.

As always, should any guest or employee feel unwell, and you have medical concerns relating to COVID-19, please contact – by telephone – your local doctors’ practice or NHS24 on 111. Do not attend in person, if you feel you may have symptoms.

Travel guidance relating to specific countries and regions around the world which have been impacted by COVID-19 is also available on the NHS Inform Scotland website This includes health advice for those returning from those areas. Please also make use of the UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office website for wider travel advice specific to each country.

Please continue to make use of the following online resources for up to date information about Coronavirus:

NHS Inform Scotland website

UK Government Coronavirus guidance website

UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice website – specific to China

UK Government Foreign and Commonwealth Office website – for all countries

The NHS24 Twitter and  Facebook accounts for public health information in Scotland.

 

We also highlight a link to explanation from for Dr Doireann O’Leary:

STOP❗️ Don’t panic. Covid19. Here’s what you should know:

https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=712852716127256&id=249766132435919

 

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all guests for your continued support.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

Best wishes from all at Balbirnie House