Estate aims to tap into UK 'staycation' market
By Stuart Laundy - Senior Reporter
THE operators of a village pub are branching out in an effort to grab a slice of the expected boom in “staycation” tourism.
Preparations have begun for the reopening of the Milbank Arms, in Barningham, later this month after the further easing of lockdown restrictions.
In addition to letting the pub’s four rooms, the Barningham Estate, which owns the premises, is also renovating four adjacent cottages which will be offered as self catering accommodation.
Prior to the lockdown, the pub had been managed on behalf of the estate by Coghlans, the Barningham-based bakery, tea room and restaurant. Lady Natalie Milbank said the decision had been taken for the estate to take over the management as part of the wider scheme to develop the cottages.
As part of the plans, David Nicholls has been appointed to manage the pub and accommodation.
Mr Nicholls, 32, grew up in Bowes, and returned to the dale after working for self catering specialists Natural Retreats (now rebranded as Together Travel) in John O’Groats and Cornwall.
Lady Milbank said the estate had taken advice from a rural economy specialist before embarking on the new venture and recruiting Mr Nicholls.
She said two of the renovated cottages would be available this season, along with another self catering property the estate has at Helwith, while three of the pub’s four rooms would be let at any one time.
“It is a step into the unknown for us but we have got to have confidence,” she said.
“We have got to embrace the unusual circumstances.”
As far as the pub is concerned, new picnic-style tables have been added and Lady Milbank said the aim was to make the most of the large outdoor spaces available both to the front and rear.
A food and drink takeaway service has begun at the pub and it is hoped it will be fully reopened later in July.
“People are going to be nervous but they will want to get out of the house for a drink and something to eat,” said Lady Milbank.
“People need to feel reassured that we have taken all steps possible but that they can still have fun.
“We have listened to all the Government guidelines and are reacting to what the Government is asking of everyone. We don’t want people to give up on us. I think we need people to support the great British pub. If we don’t support them, this institution will go under.”
With rules and parameters regarding how business can operate continuously changing, she urged people to keep checking the pub’s website or call 01833 621955 for updates.