Travel Information: COVID-19

Policy update 20th November 2020

It’s very encouraging indeed, to hear on the radio this morning, that plans are now getting underway to deliver 1M vaccinations for Scotland citizens, by the end of January 2021. Our thoughts are with everyone who is tasked with the scale of this challenge. And given these unfolding circumstances, we have to wonder today, if we are now perhaps only a few months away, from being able to return to normality? Here’s hoping!

In the meantime, we continue to do everything we can do, in all contexts.

And it’s so very joyful currently, to see so many beautiful and intimate weddings taking place in the house. From the many creative formats which we’ve been able to work with for the wedding meal, we saw one particular arrangement a few days ago, with ten tables of two all facing inwards, and social distanced in a square format, so as to be very similar indeed to a large table, and allowing all guests to converse, but still complying absolutely with distance regulations. Please let us know if you would like to see photos of this setup. My personal thoughts on this setup, it was so lovely, we will continue offering this brand new arrangement after social distancing ends!

Within the contexts of our 12 weeks in advance rolling review program for all future clients, we now offer three further potentials:

1.            Fully adapt all wedding planning into a beautiful and intimate wedding for 20 attending.

2.            Take all existing wedding planning, and shift in entirety to a brand new date in either 2021 or 2022.

Please note the above can only be offered to you 12 weeks prior to your wedding. We will action this gradually and logically, taking one week at a time. We will contact clients directly, as and when we reach the review day’.

In the meantime, for all clients with weddings May 2021 inclusive, scope now to hold a further backup date in either 2022, or 2023. We will hold a provisional backup date for you without any further deposit payment being required. Our wedding planning department will be directly in touch with all clients with these dates, within the next 7 days.

For all clients with weddings June 2021, we anticipate extending the option of a provisional back up date in the followings 7 days after all May couples have been contacted. This is yet to be confirmed.

For all clients who have diary dates for June 2021 onwards, we will continue to hold all planning aspects in our Special Events diary. Our policies and systems are completely intact, and we very respectfully continue to highlight to future clients with dates which may or may not be able to proceed, that you continue to maintain composure and await your time and turn, in order to enable our planning team to be able to deliver their absolute best for you.

We re-confirm today, that everything we are working with at Balbirnie House, is to best manage circumstances and NOT to issue any cancellation charges. We highlight as per policy however, that if any client wishes to cancel a future wedding, as opposed to waiting until we can define 12 weeks in advance if we can postpone (without any cancellation costs) to another future date, then cancellation terms are as stated.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4.

Stating the obvious, we cannot wait to be able to return to normality. We have many wedding clients who have postponed the original date, again, and again. And virtually without exception, all wedding clients are still going ahead with the wedding at Balbirnie House. Thank you for bearing with the circumstances. The management of this entire process has been a very significant ongoing task managed by our amazing wedding planning team. I pay tribute to my colleagues today, this has truly been Hospitality with a capital H.

We cannot even begin to imagine the absolute joy in being able to see clients who have repeatedly postponed, finally being able to go ahead with the special day. So, let’s keep positive and keep hoping.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

 

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Policy update 29th October 2020

Following today’s further ScotGov updates, in conjunction with the most recent published wedding advice:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnership-registrations/pages/purpose-of-guidance/ 

Within the contexts of our 12 weeks in advance rolling review program for all future clients, we will now offer three further potentials:

1.            Fully adapt all wedding planning into a Beautiful and Intimate wedding for 20 attending.

2.            Take all existing wedding planning, and shift in entirety to a brand new date in either 2021 or 2022.

Please note the above can only be offered to you 12 weeks prior to your wedding.

In the meantime, for all clients with weddings April 2021 inclusive, scope now to hold a further backup date in either 2022, or 2023. We will hold a provisional backup date for you without any further deposit payment being required. Our wedding planning department will be directly in touch with all clients with these dates, within the next 7 days.

For all clients with weddings May 2021, we anticipate extending the option of a provisional back up date in the followings 7 days after all April couples have been contacted. This is yet to be confirmed.

For all clients who have diary dates for June 2021 onwards, we will continue to hold all planning aspects in our Special Events diary. Our policies and systems are completely intact, and we very respectfully continue to highlight to future clients with dates which may or may not be able to proceed, that you continue to maintain composure and await your time and turn, in order to enable our planning team to be able to deliver their absolute best for you.

We re-confirm today, that everything we are working with at Balbirnie House, is to best manage circumstances and NOT to issue any cancellation charges. We highlight as per policy however, that if any client wishes to cancel a future wedding, as opposed to waiting until we can define 12 weeks in advance if we can postpone (without any cancellation costs) to another future date, then cancellation terms are as stated.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

 

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Policy update 25th September 2020 

Following Tuesday’s ScotGov updates, in conjunction with the most recent published advice, a further policy update for Food & Beveridge service:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tourism-and-hospitality-sector-guidance/pages/frequently-asked-questions-faqs/?fbclid=IwAR2yW3ddwZ6_P7t5v9IMrlEBv80GVAfAlLLPgp_WkhH4_Ma7dWUJ4Gsk07U#closeat10pm

We are required by law to close the hotel by 10pm. Last orders will therefore be called at an appropriate time to allow service, customers to eat/drink up and depart the premises to ensure our doors are closed by 10pm.

For residents, our bar and restaurant services must close at 10pm also, so sadly we will not be able to serve residents either in any of our dining or lounge areas after this time. We will however be able to offer room service to any residents after 10pm.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

 

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Policy update 23rd September 2020 

Following yesterday’s further ScotGov updates, in conjunction with the most recent published wedding advice:

https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-small-marriages-and-civil-partnership-registrations/pages/purpose-of-guidance/

Within the contexts of our 12 weeks in advance rolling review program for all future clients, we will now offer three further potentials:

  1. Fully adapt all wedding planning into the context of our brand new suggestions, for a Beautiful and Intimate wedding for 20 attending (click here for Package!) – Whilst writing today the hospitality sector awaits further clarity from government, but it is our understanding that CEO of Scottish Tourism Alliance has been informed by ScotGov that the intention is to exempt hotel residents from 10pm bar curfew.
  2. Take all existing wedding planning, and shift in entirety to a brand new date in either 2021 or 2022.
  3. For all clients with weddings January – March 2021 inclusive, scope now to hold a further backup date in either 2022, or 2023. We will hold a provisional backup date for you without any further deposit payment being required. Our wedding planning department will be directly in touch with all clients with these dates, within the next 7 days.

For all clients who have diary dates for April 2021 onwards, we will continue to hold all planning aspects in our Special Events diary. Our policies and systems are completely intact, and we very respectfully continue to highlight to future clients with dates which may or may not be able to proceed, that you continue to maintain composure and await your time and turn, in order to enable our planning team to be able to deliver their absolute best for you.

We re-confirm today, that everything we are working with at Balbirnie House, is to best manage circumstances and NOT to issue any cancellation charges. We highlight as per policy however, that if any client wishes to cancel a future wedding, as opposed to waiting until we can define 12 weeks in advance if we can postpone (without any cancellation costs) to another future date, then cancellation terms are as stated.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

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Policy update 17th September 2020

Our sincere gratitude to all clients with weddings scheduled for August, September, October, November and December 2020, who have now taken the opportunity to hold ‘an additional backup date’ next year. From next week we will begin to offer this to our couples with dates in January.

As of Thursday 17th September, clients with wedding dates up until w/c 7th December have been offered the option of official postponement to their held back up date or cancellation with refund. We will continue to offer this on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future until further, more definitive guidance has been given in regards to weddings and large events specifically.

We have been profoundly heartened by the reactions from our clients, we thank you all for your ongoing patience and gratitude.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4. In anticipation of this, and with no real direction we will now extend our previous policy of 10 weeks in advance to 12 weeks, thereby with logical provision and timeline for all clients to liaise with wedding guests and suppliers.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

 

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Policy update 31st July 2020

Our sincere gratitude to all clients with weddings scheduled for August, September, October, November and December 2020, who have now taken the opportunity to hold ‘an additional backup date’ next year. We will not be extending this offering into 2021 as we are at this stage very hopeful for weddings to go ahead as originally planned before then.

As of Thursday 30th July, clients with wedding dates up until w/c 5th October have been offered the option of official postponement to their held back up date or cancellation with refund. We will continue to offer this on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future until further, more definitive guidance has been given in regards to weddings and large events specifically.

We have been profoundly heartened by the reactions from our clients, we thank you all for your ongoing patience and gratitude.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4. In anticipation of this, and with no real direction we will now extend our previous policy of 10 weeks in advance to 12 weeks, thereby with logical provision and timeline for all clients to liaise with wedding guests and suppliers.

Please be advised we will be give clients with dates between 12th – 25th October 2020 a courtesy call on Monday 3rd July to discuss.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

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Policy update 23rd July 2020

Our sincere gratitude to all clients with weddings scheduled for August, September, October, November and December 2020, who have now taken the opportunity to hold ‘an additional backup date’ next year. We will not be extending this offering into 2021 as we are at this stage very hopeful for weddings to go ahead as originally planned before then.

As of Thursday 23rd July, clients with wedding dates up until w/c 28th September have been offered the option of official postponement to their held back up date or cancellation with refund. We will continue to offer this on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future until further, more definitive guidance has been given in regards to weddings and large events specifically.

We have been profoundly heartened by the reactions from our clients, we thank you all for your ongoing patience and gratitude.

Moving ahead in more immediate terms operationally, we are now open for external dining as of 6th July – Adapted obviously for all such forthcoming new practices.

And thereafter, offering hotel accommodation and internal dining July 15th with internal social distancing measures and new practices in place.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4. In anticipation of this, we will continue to roll 2 and a half months in advance, thereby with logical provision and timeline for all clients to liaise with wedding guests and suppliers.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

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Policy update 16th July 2020

Our sincere gratitude to all clients with weddings scheduled for August, September, October, November and December 2020, who have now taken the opportunity to hold ‘an additional backup date’ next year. We will not be extending this offering into 2021 as we are at this stage very hopeful for weddings to go ahead as originally planned before then.

As of Thursday 16th July, clients with wedding dates up until w/c 21st September have been offered the option of official postponement to their held back up date or cancellation with refund. We will continue to offer this on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future until further, more definitive guidance has been given in regards to weddings and large events specifically.

We have been profoundly heartened by the reactions from our clients, we thank you all for your ongoing patience and gratitude.

Moving ahead in more immediate terms operationally, we are now open for external dining as of 6th July – Adapted obviously for all such forthcoming new practices.

And thereafter, offering hotel accommodation and internal dining July 15th with internal social distancing measures and new practices in place.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4. In anticipation of this, we will continue to roll 2 and a half months in advance, thereby with logical provision and timeline for all clients to liaise with wedding guests and suppliers.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

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Policy update 3rd July 2020

Our sincere gratitude to all clients with weddings scheduled for August, September, October, November and December 2020, who have now taken the opportunity to hold ‘an additional backup date’ next year. We will not be extending this offering into 2021 as we are at this stage very hopeful for weddings to go ahead as originally planned before then.

As of Thursday 2nd July, clients with wedding dates up until w/c 7th September have been offered the option of official postponement to their held back up date or cancellation with refund. We will continue to offer this on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future until further, more definitive guidance has been given in regards to weddings and large events specifically.

We have been profoundly heartened by the reactions from our clients, we thank you all for your ongoing patience and gratitude.

Moving ahead in more immediate terms operationally, our management team are now getting ready for the re-opening of Balbirnie House for external dining on 6th July – Adapted obviously for all such forthcoming new practices.

And thereafter, offering hotel accommodation and internal dining July 15th, date tbc, with internal social distancing measures and new practices in place.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4. In anticipation of this, we will continue to roll 2 and a half months in advance, thereby with logical provision and timeline for all clients to liaise with wedding guests and suppliers.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

 

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Status update 25.6.2020

EXTERNAL DINING:

Following yesterday’s Scottish government announcement for the tourism and hospitality sectors, we are now absolutely delighted to be able to confirm that Balbirnie House will open for external dining, and a brand new summer 2020 drinks garden on our south lawns, on Monday 6th July.

The dining aspect will be centred on 10 brand new dark blue windowed mini Gazebos (each 3 metres x 3 metres), which can be booked in advance. (12 noon, 2pm, 4pm (afternoon tea), 6pm (cocktail Happy Hour till 7pm) and 8pm)

Guests can either dine under cover, or simply pull the table out into the never-ending Scottish sunlight! Basically, we’re taking our Bistro outside.

We have installed WiFi, to fully cover south lawns. First and foremost, this enables all food and drinks ordering via App, with all items delivered adjacent to tables, using tray service.

We have also installed multiple external speakers, and that groove will be Euro downtempo during the day, picking up some pace as we progress into the evening.

The areas are also to receive the addition of 400 metres of soft white fairy lights. It’s going to be beautiful.

All services will be delivered with social distancing.

INTERNAL DINING:

To be confirmed, 15th July onwards.

ACCOMMODATION AND STAYCATIONS:

To be confirmed, 15th July onwards.

IN-HOUSE SPECIAL EVENTS, SOCIAL GATHERINGS AND WEDDINGS:

We continue to very carefully monitor the ongoing Scottish government guidelines.

We also now note, that The Republic of Ireland is scheduling for capabilities for weddings to take place for 100 guests, 20th July onwards:

Revealed: Weddings and outdoor concerts back on as gatherings of up to 100 people allowed from July 20 – https://www.independent.ie/news/revealed-weddings-and-outdoor-concerts-back-on-as-gatherings-of-up-to-100-people-allowed-from-july-20-39299198.html

Stating what appears to be obvious, Scotland is perhaps ‘running behind’ The Republic of Ireland.

We will continue to liaise with wedding clients for review dates, two and a half months in advance of diarised weddings. If your wedding date is further than two and a half months into the future, we very kindly request that you wait until we arrive at your time for that discussion. (In the meantime, should there be an absolute necessity for cancellation, we can action this for you, but cancellation fees will be applicable, as per T’s and C’s.)

Today, I pay tribute to our two Special Events wedding planning team, who have been on duty since Lockdown, working to assist clients with 7 day per week focus, doing all we can to help our future clients, as well as ensuring our operations remain financially viable ahead. Gaynor Russell and Christine Lowe have already successfully re-scheduled more than 80 future weddings. To date, we have only had literally, two wedding cancellations.

We know the many reasons people choose to get married at Balbirnie House. People fall in love with this place, it has such a resonant connection, echoing with the accumulated celebrations of three decades of joy and celebration. For all clients who have already successfully re-scheduled, stating the obvious, we cannot wait to see the unfolding joy of your wedding day, when we finally get there.

THE SAFEGUARDING OF BALBIRNIE HOUSE:

We will deliver a pre-opening Blog detailing the very significant financial challenges we have faced since March, and thanking the many people who have enabled us to address this. The ‘hibernation costs’ have been profound to say the least, however we are absolutely delighted, and the rest, to confirm today that we have already successfully completely re-financed, and we have funds in place to pave the cash flow and way into the future. Additionally, we are proud beyond belief to be able to confirm that our entire brigade is 100% intact.

Our thoughts today are with industry colleagues who have sadly not been able to afford to continue.

FUTURE EMPLOYMENT OF OUR BRIGADE:

We will re-open for external dining with 12 of our brigade on duty. Our ability to accelerate back to full status for the entire 85 members of the team depends on (a) ongoing amendments to government guidelines (b) how busy we are, so without doubt we would very much call for as much business as we are able to safely deliver. More info, opening menus etc via our social media.

With all best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell / MD Balbirnie House

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Policy update 18th June 2020

Our sincere gratitude to all clients with weddings scheduled for August, September, October and November 2020, who have now taken the opportunity to hold ‘an additional backup date’ next year. We have been profoundly heartened by the reactions from our clients, so much so that we are now also going to offer the same scope for clients who have weddings booked in December 2020 as from next Thursday 18th June 2020. Please do get in touch if you wish to hold a 2021 backup date.

Moving ahead in more immediate terms operationally, our management team are now very carefully considering the possibility of opening Balbirnie House for external dining on 18th June, date tbc. – Adapted obviously for all such forthcoming new practices.

And thereafter, offering hotel accommodation and internal dining July 9th, date tbc, with internal social distancing measures and new practices in place.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4. In anticipation of this, we will continue to roll 2 and a half months in advance, thereby with logical provision and timeline for all clients to liaise with wedding guests and suppliers.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

 

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Policy update 11th June 2020

Our sincere gratitude to all clients with weddings scheduled for August, September , October and November 2020, who have now taken the opportunity to hold ‘an additional backup date’ next year. We have been profoundly heartened by the reactions from our clients, so much so that we are now also going to offer the same scope for clients who have weddings booked in December 2020 as from next Thursday 18th June 2020. Please do get in touch if you wish to hold a 2021 backup date.

Moving ahead in more immediate terms operationally, our management team are now very carefully considering the possibility of opening Balbirnie House for external dining on 18th June, date tbc. – Adapted obviously for all such forthcoming new practices.

And thereafter, offering hotel accommodation and internal dining July 9th, date tbc, with internal social distancing measures and new practices in place.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4. In anticipation of this, we will continue to roll 2 and a half months in advance, thereby with logical provision and timeline for all clients to liaise with wedding guests and suppliers.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

 

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Policy update 4th June

Our sincere gratitude to all clients with weddings scheduled for August, September & October 2020, who have now taken the opportunity to hold ‘an additional backup date’ next year. We have been profoundly heartened by the reactions from our clients, so much so that we are now also going to offer the same scope for clients who have weddings booked in November 2020 as from next Thursday 11th June 2020. Please do get in touch if you wish to hold a 2021 backup date.

Moving ahead in more immediate terms operationally, our management team are now very carefully considering the possibility of opening Balbirnie House for external dining on 18th June, date tbc. – Adapted obviously for all such forthcoming new practices.

And thereafter, offering hotel accommodation and internal dining July 9th, date tbc, with internal social distancing measures and new practices in place.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4. In anticipation of this, we will continue to roll 2 and a half months in advance, thereby with logical provision and timeline for all clients to liaise with wedding guests and suppliers.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

 

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Policy update 28.05.20

Our sincere gratitude to all clients with weddings scheduled for August and September 2020, who have now taken the opportunity to hold ‘an additional backup date’ next year. We have been profoundly heartened by the reactions from our clients, so much so that we are now also going to offer the same scope for clients who have weddings booked in October 2020 as from next Thursday 4th June 2020. Please do get in touch if you wish to hold a 2021 backup date.

Moving ahead in more immediate terms operationally, our management team are now very carefully considering the possibility of opening Balbirnie House for external dining on 18th June, date tbc. – Adapted obviously for all such forthcoming new practices.

And thereafter, offering hotel accommodation and internal dining July 9th, date tbc, with internal social distancing measures and new practices in place.

The ability to deliver non-social distancing wedding celebrations and social gatherings is of course dependent on Scotland’s government route map reaching phase 4. In anticipation of this, we will continue to roll 2 and a half months in advance, thereby with logical provision and timeline for all clients to liaise with wedding guests and suppliers.

Onwards we go!

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas / MD Balbirnie House

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Policy updates, and looking at re-opening: 25th May 2020

Given the latest Scottish government update, specifying that hospitality will fully re-open without social distancing at phase 4 on Scotland’s route map, further detailed that ‘this may be many months, possibly longer … ‘ – We are delighted today, to introduce 3 further Policy improvements designed purely and simply, to help our clients.

You can access the full government document via: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-framework-decision-making-scotlands-route-map-through-out-crisis/

NEW POLICY 1

For those wedding clients who have already postponed from eg April and May 2020 to months specific August and September 2020, should you wish to continue to hold your new wedding date and to also diarise a further ‘provisional backup date’ within the entire 2021 calendar year, please get in touch. We will hold a provisional backup date for you without any further deposit payment being required.

As always, we are doing everything we can to assist all future clients, in a way which is as caring, and kind and thoughtful as possible. This new backup addition to Policy, will continue to be applied on what will be over 4 months of lead time, factored on a rolling weekly basis. So, you continue to hold August and September dates (and we certainly hope to be able to provide all operational facilities), but should you wish to do so, we can hold a further ‘backup date’ in 2021. We go live for week 1 October review, next week, and so on.

NEW POLICY 2

We very helpfully highlight that over decades of operations, we are accustomed to seeing weddings in Easter school holidays, and the first two weeks of summer school holidays, for clients who tend to be school teachers. If that is you, then we will also open up availability at those times of year (as part of weekly rolling reviews), for all remaining availability in 2021, and in 2022 as well.

NEW POLICY 3

Furthermore, on the one week rolling basis which we have been working with since trading was initially suspended at the end of March 2020, for those clients who we are contemplating with two and a half months in advance, we are now opening up all remaining dates in 2021 and 2022.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

We note, that World Health Organisation guidelines for social distancing is 1 metre https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

This is in contrast to ‘Stay 2 metres apart where possible’, as detailed by the UK Prime Minister on 20th May 2020. The 2 metres suggestion is mirrored by Scotland’s government. However, the UK Hospitality sector is very actively campaigning for the WHO 1 metre guideline to be adopted: https://www.bighospitality.co.uk/Article/2020/05/22/One-metre-rule-hospitality-leaders-poll-lockdown-pubs-bar-restaurants-Coronavirus

We continue to appraise what is happening across the world. And we are very carefully monitoring how the entire wedding industry is reacting, and how it will continue to react as weddings once again begin to take place.

Stating the obvious, there will be many couples who are so in love, and simply cannot wait to get married, that they will seek to re-structure components of occasions, so as to be able to get married, yet still cope with the element of social distancing.

Certainly, many others who are to become newly engaged may wish to proceed in immediate terms with an intimate wedding ceremony, so as to formalise marriage, and then have a large wedding party after social distancing is no longer applicable.

We will of course continue to keep everyone appraised as to what we can, and what we cannot do, guided by the evolving government instructions.

If there is one thing that weddings are about, it is certainly Love. But how can we conceive the combination of weddings, Love, and global social distancing requirements? Because certainly, that is possible to conceive. Especially so, if the WHO 1 metre guideline is adopted, and weddings worldwide then begin to work together with the global wedding industry, to define new ways of working and delivering.

Here’s a particularly interesting new Guides for Brides article on the subject of weddings and social distancing: https://www.guidesforbrides.co.uk/wedding-ideas/weddings-during-social-distancing/

We are very fortunate indeed at Balbirnie House, in terms of the size, scale and numbers of our public rooms, and we are of course already visualising how we can deliver hospitality with social distancing.

In the meantime, our wedding planning team will continue to apply the same rational and methodical approach to doing our best to manage the circumstances with dates for future occasions.

Social distancing? Our Millennium Ballroom is 22m x 12m = 264 sq m. This means that area alone could host an event with over 100 guests, with WHO guidelines of 1 metre observed. The Millennium Ballroom has hosted many wedding ceremonies over the years, and it could easily have ceremonies with 1 metre social distancing.

So, allowing for staffing etc, logically we could provide a wedding meal for eg eighteen 6 feet round tables of 6 guests = 108 total guests, potentially more with other table formats. Underlined, that is within the scope of phase 3 of Scotland’s routemap, but the hospitality sector still also awaits government clarity as to how many guests we can actually cater for in phase 3, with social distancing in place. The sooner the better!

In terms of how we could deliver weddings whilst ensuring our hotel brigade also applies WHO 1 metre social distancing, this would require us to conceive some entirely re-defined food and beverage service systems. And if any hotel brigade can successfully do that for weddings, then it is certainly Balbirnie’s.

We can consider integrating similar food and beverage systems as those we already deploy for festive parties. Prior to the arrival of guests in our Ballroom, drinks, bread and butter and starter course can be pre-positioned on guest tables. Guests can subsequently then be directed to collect the next courses from a new delivery area, one table at a time, whilst our brigade clears the prior course, and so on. We can certainly deliver all remits within what was already going to be a revolutionary and beautiful new banquet offering for 2020, with all banquet dishes being presented into Scotland’s first online wedding banquet compendium. A first look at that overview via http://balbirniehouse.blogspot.com/2020/05/balbirnie-house-scotlands-2020-wedding.html

Turning to addressing the practicalities of dancing with social distancing. Certainly, no conventional Scottish country dancing would be possible, but as we have such a large dancefloor, we can very easily use marking tape to define 1 metre distancing. Additionally, as the floor itself is extendable, we could make it larger. However, sadly no conga, and breakdancing only if there’s enough space on the dance floor, until we reach phase 4 non social distancing!

Scotland’s hospitality sector now has a provisional opening date for outside dining tbc 18th June 2020, and for opening hotel accommodation, dining, and special events with social distancing in place tbc July 9th. We are now carefully considering the potentials of both of these dates. From 18th June onwards, conceivably, we could offer our North Courtyard, and our south facing gardens, which are all being maintained to pristine, in readiness.

Hotels now have decisions to make as well. First and foremost, is it commercially logical and financially workable to fully open and carry all operating costs, with social distancing in place? Additionally, does it make sense to make any new required investments to enable social distancing, when theoretically that social distancing may (or may not be) short term? Re-opening is certainly going to be a balancing act across the span of hospitality.

We are encouraged at the latest national hospitality polling, which certainly shows that people are indicating that they will wish to dine out. But, what will that dining experience be? Here’s a quick snapshot on the cutting edge of Las Vegas: https://www.latimes.com/travel/story/2020-05-19/eating-scene-vegas-will-look-like

Our decisions will of course also be assisted by what our wedding clients are telling us, as we make our way through each weekly phase of reviewing dates. How do you now envisage your wedding day? We will do anything in our capability, to deliver your occasion within the remit of any guidelines which remain in force, in conjunction with all t’s and c’s.

I also highlight within my own personal duty of care as Balbirnie’s Licence Holder, when it comes to how and when we re-open, that I’m both legally and duty bound to ensure all aspects of Health and Safety within the premises, for our hotel brigade and clients alike. From all we can currently see, those operators intent upon re-opening with social distancing measures in place, will need to be delivering ‘new hospital standards’ both in public areas, and behind the scenes. Our management team are already well in progress with these considerations.

We had previously published plans in progress in any event, to become Scotland’s first cashless hotel as at May 1st 2021, so we are now considering the ability of bringing this aspect forward for Balbirnie’s re-opening.

Yours in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell / MD Balbirnie House

 

__________________________________________________________

 

Policy and status update 21.5.2020

Policy:

Firstly, we’re absolutely honoured and truly delighted to confirm that Balbirnie House is now Scotland’s 2020 national Wedding Hotel of the Year. And furthermore, that our amazing wedding planning team, are Scotland’s Wedding Planning Team of the Year, for the second year in a row! All info via our latest blog:

https://balbirniehouse.blogspot.com/2020/05/balbirnie-house-scotlands-2020-wedding.html

Today, if you have a wedding booked within the dates of 27th July until Sunday 2nd August 2020, and you do wish to postpone, we are now opening up re-scheduled date availability from spring 2021, to early August 2021. If you categorically wish to look to postpone, our wedding planning department will be able to assist.

Please note, due to the sheer number of clients who have successfully postponed with new wedding dates up until spring 2021, until that time we mostly only have midweek dates still available.

Moving ahead, we will continue to offer all future clients the ability to re-schedule dates, rolling as we have done since the end of March, liaising with our clients two and a half months in advance. We thank all clients for working with us, with ongoing dignity and composure amongst such emotional circumstances.

Our policies and systems are completely intact, and we very respectfully continue to highlight to future clients with dates which may or may not be able to proceed, that you continue to maintain composure, and await your time and turn, in order to enable our planning team to be able to deliver their absolute best for you.

We are of course applying our absolute best capabilities one week at a time, so we respectfully ask all future clients to bear with us, as we methodically make our way through the many challenges as they are being presented.

In the 12 months beginning July 2020, we still have circa 180 dates available for wedding bookings, so we will certainly be able to continue to secure future dates.

We continue to deliver new Virtual Reality showrounds, for all future bookings, although noted, most new enquiries incoming are now for 2022 and 2023.

In considering unfolding UK and Scottish government policies, we note that components of hospitality may potentially re-open at the beginning of July 2020, albeit with requirements for social distancing.

We also note that there is some media contemplation of countries elsewhere perhaps thereafter permitting small weddings (eg less than 20 guests). If this is to be the case in Scotland, as we now have ‘a significant diary gap’ between when we could potentially re-open, and when we now have our first scheduled large Ballroom weddings, we could therefore potentially react very quickly, and offer new short notice bookings for those small weddings. All we can say today is, *we watch that space*

And so, to the question the entire wedding industry is now asking, globally. When will large weddings be able to take place, without social distancing? We continue to monitor all government instructions, all we know today is the vague UK perception of ‘significantly after the beginning of July’. This is certainly challenging for all wedding venues, all couples with future dates, friends and family with travel arrangements, and all suppliers. We very much hope that government can issue guidelines for hospitality at the very earliest opportunity.

We will continue to share industry perceptions and breaking hospitality news from our main twitter feed: https://twitter.com/BalbirnieHouse

Our own and other industry articles then collate into publishing our daily twitter newspaper, The Scottish Hotel, Tourism and Hospitality Daily:

https://paper.li/e-1573037373?fbclid=IwAR3D1nUogrPBHExX_npu2l8I6SVnmakw-1jjtXh8QtRP5ICiIdGap5ZzHwI#/

The Balbirnie rhododendrons are in full bloom, our lawns and grounds maintained to immaculate in preparation for re-opening. What I find hardest myself when walking around, is the silence of it all. Where there was previously the chatter and noise of happy hospitality, there is currently only silence. We cannot wait for the day we re-open.

Our thoughts with one and all, during such challenging times.

All best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell/ MD Balbirnie House

______________________________________________________________

 

Policy and status update 14.5.2020

Policy:

Everything we have been working on since late March 2020, has been delivered to our absolute best for all future clients.

We continue to hear of terribly sad circumstances elsewhere across the span of UK hospitality and the generality of future weddings.

Financially, emotionally and logically, we are continuing to do all we can to successfully manage future weddings, so that (a) we can re-open when government instructs this is possible (b) we can provide the intended backdrop for weddings as soon as is possible to do so, for our clients.

Certainly, all planning systems we have in progress, are designed to look after all of our clients, so as to avoid any circumstances such as those outlined in this BBC report.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52400441

Everything we are working with at Balbirnie House, is to best manage circumstances and NOT to issue any cancellation charges. We highlight as per policy however, that if any client wishes to cancel a future wedding, as opposed to waiting until we can define 2 and a half months in advance if we can postpone (without any cancellation costs) to another future date, then cancellation terms are as stated.

 

We’re absolutely honoured and truly delighted to confirm that Balbirnie House is now Scotland’s 2020 national Wedding Hotel of the Year. And furthermore, that our amazing wedding planning team, are Scotland’s Wedding Planning Team of the Year, for the second year in a row! All info via our latest blog:

https://balbirniehouse.blogspot.com/2020/05/balbirnie-house-scotlands-2020-wedding.html

Today, if you have a wedding booked within the dates of 20th – 27th July 2020, and you do wish to postpone, we are now opening up re-scheduled date availability from spring 2021, to July 2021. If you categorically wish to look to postpone, our wedding planning department will be able to assist.

Please note, due to the sheer number of clients who have successfully postponed with new wedding dates up until spring 2021, until that time we mostly only have midweek dates still available.

Moving ahead, we will continue to offer all future clients the ability to re-schedule dates, rolling as we have done since the end of March, liaising with our clients two and a half months in advance. We thank all clients for working with us, with ongoing dignity and composure amongst such emotional circumstances.

Our policies and systems are completely intact, and we very respectfully continue to highlight to future clients with dates which may or may not be able to proceed, that you continue to maintain composure, and await your time and turn, in order to enable our planning team to be able to deliver their absolute best for you.

We are of course applying our absolute best capabilities one week at a time, so we respectfully ask all future clients to bear with us, as we methodically make our way through the many challenges as they are being presented.

In the 12 months beginning July 2020, we still have circa 180 dates available for wedding bookings, so we will certainly be able to continue to secure future dates.

We continue to deliver new Virtual Reality showrounds, for all future bookings, although noted, most new enquiries incoming are now for 2022 and 2023.

In considering unfolding UK and Scottish government policies, we note that components of hospitality may potentially re-open at the beginning of July 2020, albeit with requirements for social distancing.

We also note that there is some media contemplation of countries elsewhere perhaps thereafter permitting small weddings (eg less than 20 guests). If this is to be the case in Scotland, as we now have ‘a significant diary gap’ between when we could potentially re-open, and when we now have our first scheduled large Ballroom weddings, we could therefore potentially react very quickly, and offer new short notice bookings for those small weddings. All we can say today is, *we watch that space*

And so, to the question the entire wedding industry is now asking, globally. When will large weddings be able to take place, without social distancing? We continue to monitor all government instructions, all we know today is the vague UK perception of ‘significantly after the beginning of July’. This is certainly challenging for all wedding venues, all couples with future dates, friends and family with travel arrangements, and all suppliers. We very much hope that government can issue guidelines for hospitality at the very earliest opportunity.

We will continue to share industry perceptions and breaking hospitality news from our main twitter feed:

https://twitter.com/BalbirnieHouse

Our own and other industry articles then collate into publishing our daily twitter newspaper, The Scottish Hotel, Tourism and Hospitality Daily:

https://paper.li/e-1573037373?fbclid=IwAR3D1nUogrPBHExX_npu2l8I6SVnmakw-1jjtXh8QtRP5ICiIdGap5ZzHwI#/

The Balbirnie rhododendrons are in full bloom, our lawns and grounds maintained to immaculate in preparation for re-opening. What I find hardest myself when walking around, is the silence of it all. Where there was previously the chatter and noise of happy hospitality, there is currently only silence. We cannot wait for the day we re-open.

Our thoughts with one and all, during such challenging times.

All best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell/ MD Balbirnie House

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Policy and status update 07.5.2020

Policy:

Over the recent weeks since trading was suspended, our company directors and internal accounts department have successfully delivered financial forecasting through to the end of June, with further modelling stretching beyond that if need be, for 3 further months of continued suspended trading. Our sincere gratitude to EQ Accountants, and HSBC bank.

Our hotel brigade remains 100% intact, mostly remunerated via our company payroll, subsequently recouping from the UK furlough scheme. We have multiple members of the brigade continuing being remunerated exclusively from our own payroll, across the span of security, gardening, remote accounts, and Virtual Reality wedding planning. We are continuing to accept new wedding bookings, and for those clients who have made future bookings without even physically visiting Balbirnie House, we will very much look forward to the day that we can personally welcome you to the Grade A Listed 1777 national treasure.

From all that we can see going on around the world today, we observe what each country’s hospitality sector is doing, in terms of timeline for re-opening, as well as timeline for re-opening to cater for weddings and large social gatherings. On that basis, whilst we have no government guarantees, we are currently hopeful and optimistic that Balbirnie House will potentially re-open at the latest at the beginning of July, but if it’s sooner that will not present us with any issues whatsoever. We are therefore now working on new financial forecasting and cashflows, showing us very hopefully open for business at the beginning of July.

All that any of us can do today, is await government confirmation of re-opening dates. And we very much hope, given the enormity of the economic impacts across the entire span of tourism and hospitality, that the timeline is now defined sooner rather than later.

I pay tribute today, to our amazing wedding planning team, who have already successfully enabled most of our clients from suspended trading until towards the end of June, to re-schedule dates.

Which then takes us to today, and contemplating weddings in the beginning of July. On 16th April the UK government confirmed Lockdown for 3 further weeks. Please reference: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52313715

We therefore highlight that the next UK government (and hence also Scotland government) briefings will be on 7th May, and on the simple basis of logic, we suggest to clients with these dates, that it may be best now to await those briefings, before deciding if you should look to work with us to postpone your wedding day.

In the meantime, if you have a wedding booked within the dates of 13th – 19th July 2020, and you do wish to postpone, we are now opening up re-scheduled date availability from spring 2021, to July 2021. If you categorically wish to look to postpone, our wedding planning department will be able to assist.

Please note, due to the sheer number of clients who have successfully postponed with new wedding dates up until spring 2021, until that time we mostly only have midweek dates still available.

When Balbirnie House re-opens, we will certainly be beginning our busiest 12 months of weddings, in our 3 decade hotel history. We cannot wait to welcome our full brigade back to the house, and we cannot wait to resume trading  .

Our thoughts with one and all.

All best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell/ MD Balbirnie House

 

______________________________________________________________________

 

Policy and status update: 30.4.2020

Policy:

Over the recent weeks since trading was suspended, our company directors and internal accounts department have successfully delivered financial forecasting through to the end of June, with further modelling stretching beyond that if need be, for 3 further months of continued suspended trading. Our sincere gratitude to EQ Accountants, and HSBC bank.

Our hotel brigade remains 100% intact, mostly remunerated via our company payroll, subsequently recouping from the UK furlough scheme. We have multiple members of the brigade continuing being remunerated exclusively from our own payroll, across the span of security, gardening, remote accounts, and Virtual Reality wedding planning. We are continuing to accept new wedding bookings, and for those clients who have made future bookings without even physically visiting Balbirnie House, we will very much look forward to the day that we can personally welcome you to the Grade A Listed 1777 national treasure.

From all that we can see going on around the world today, we observe what each country’s hospitality sector is doing, in terms of timeline for re-opening, as well as timeline for re-opening to cater for weddings and large social gatherings. On that basis, whilst we have no government guarantees, we are currently hopeful and optimistic that Balbirnie House will potentially re-open at the latest at the beginning of July, but if it’s sooner that will not present us with any issues whatsoever. We are therefore now working on new financial forecasting and cashflows, showing us very hopefully open for business at the beginning of July.

All that any of us can do today, is await government confirmation of re-opening dates. And we very much hope, given the enormity of the economic impacts across the entire span of tourism and hospitality, that the timeline is now defined sooner rather than later.

I pay tribute today, to our amazing wedding planning team, who have already successfully enabled most of our clients from suspended trading until towards the end of June, to re-schedule dates.

Which then takes us to today, and contemplating weddings in the beginning of July. On 16th April the UK government confirmed Lockdown for 3 further weeks. Please reference: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52313715

We therefore highlight that the next UK government (and hence also Scotland government) briefings will be on 7th May, and on the simple basis of logic, we suggest to clients with these dates, that it may be best now to await those briefings, before deciding if you should look to work with us to postpone your wedding day.

In the meantime, if you have a wedding booked within the dates of 6th – 12th July 2020, and you do wish to postpone, we are now opening up re-scheduled date availability from spring 2021, to July 2021. If you categorically wish to look to postpone, our wedding planning department will be able to assist.

Please note, due to the sheer number of clients who have successfully postponed with new wedding dates up until spring 2021, until that time we mostly only have midweek dates still available.

When Balbirnie House re-opens, we will certainly be beginning our busiest 12 months of weddings, in our 3 decade hotel history. We cannot wait to welcome our full brigade back to the house, and we cannot wait to resume trading  .

Our thoughts with one and all.

All best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell/ MD Balbirnie House

__________________________________________________________

 

Policy and status update 23.4.2020

Policy:

Over the recent weeks since trading was suspended, our company directors and internal accounts department have successfully delivered financial forecasting through to the end of June, with further modelling stretching beyond that if need be, for 3 further months of continued suspended trading. Our sincere gratitude to EQ Accountants, and HSBC bank.

Our hotel brigade remains 100% intact, mostly remunerated via our company payroll, subsequently recouping from the UK furlough scheme. We have multiple members of the brigade continuing being remunerated exclusively from our own payroll, across the span of security, gardening, remote accounts, and Virtual Reality wedding planning. We are continuing to accept new wedding bookings, and for those clients who have made future bookings without even physically visiting Balbirnie House, we will very much look forward to the day that we can personally welcome you to the Grade A Listed 1777 national treasure.

From all that we can see going on around the world today, we observe what each country’s hospitality sector is doing, in terms of timeline for re-opening, as well as timeline for re-opening to cater for weddings and large social gatherings. On that basis, whilst we have no government guarantees, we are currently hopeful and optimistic that Balbirnie House will potentially re-open at the latest at the beginning of July, but if it’s sooner that will not present us with any issues whatsoever. We are therefore now working on new financial forecasting and cashflows, showing us very hopefully open for business at the beginning of July.

All that any of us can do today, is await government confirmation of re-opening dates. And we very much hope, given the enormity of the economic impacts across the entire span of tourism and hospitality, that the timeline is now defined sooner rather than later.

I pay tribute today, to our amazing wedding planning team, who have already successfully enabled most of our clients from suspended trading until towards the end of June, to re-schedule dates.

Which then takes us to today, and contemplating weddings at the end of June and beginning of July. On 16th April the UK government confirmed Lockdown for 3 further weeks. Please reference: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52313715

We therefore highlight that the next UK government (and hence also Scotland government) briefings will be on 7th May, and on the simple basis of logic, we suggest to clients with these dates, that it may be best now to await those briefings, before deciding if you should look to work with us to postpone your wedding day.

In the meantime, if you have a wedding booked within the dates of 25th June – 5th July 2020, and you do wish to postpone, we are now opening up re-scheduled date availability from spring 2021, to the beginning of July 2021. If you categorically wish to look to postpone, our wedding planning department will be able to assist.

Please note, due to the sheer number of clients who have successfully postponed with new wedding dates up until spring 2021, until that time we mostly only have midweek dates still available.

When Balbirnie House re-opens, we will certainly be beginning our busiest 12 months of weddings, in our 3 decade hotel history. We cannot wait to welcome our full brigade back to the house, and we cannot wait to resume trading  .

Our thoughts with one and all.

All best wishes in Hospitality,

Nicholas Russell/ MD Balbirnie House

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

Policy and Status update: 16.04.2020

Policy:

We confirm that 36 of 40 wedding clients in timeline 27.3.2020 – 21.06.2020 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 22.6.2020 – 28.6.2020 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

_______________________________________________

 

Policy and Status update: 09.04.2020

Policy:

We confirm that 33 of 37 wedding clients in timeline 27.3.2020 – 14.06.2020 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 15.6.2020 – 21.6.2020 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

__________________________________________________________________

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