Award-winning Kitley House in South Devon plans to re-open from September as a dedicated, exclusive-use wedding and private events venue, making the most of its 600-acre estate on the banks of the river Yealm at Yealmpton.
Last year the four-star hotel and restaurant won a raft of awards, most notably a Devon Tourism Awards’ Gold for Best Wedding Venue and a Silver for Best Events Venue. Following enforced closure in March because of the Covid-19 lockdown, all bookings had to be postponed and employees placed on furlough.
Kitley’s management team met with staff this morning to outline plans to refocus the hospitality business and cease to operate as a hotel and restaurant. An HR team will be working with those staff affected and a consultation process has commenced.
Kitley is making personal contact with all clients who have booked weddings and events to let them know about its plans and provide reassurance. All existing gift vouchers will now be valid until the end of 2021 to allow recipients time to use them.
With appropriate social distancing measures in place, Kitley hopes to re-open for September with a fresh business model and name – ‘Kitley House and Country Estate’ – which play to its strengths as an outstanding venue for weddings, special celebrations and corporate events.
Managing Director Spike Bastard, whose family has owned Kitley for generations, says: “In recent months I have taken the opportunity to reflect on the future of the business and how best to thrive in the new economic and social climate following the pandemic. We consider now is the right time to refocus Kitley, re-opening soon as a dedicated wedding and private events venue, concentrating on the services we deliver exceptionally well and for which the estate offers incredible scope.”
“This will inevitably necessitate a certain amount of staff restructuring and it saddens me that some of our loyal and long-standing employees, who have been furloughed since the spring, will face redundancy. We hope to keep as many people as we can in employment here and look forward to welcoming back those we can retain to a revitalised and revamped business.”
During the lockdown closure, the manor house and grounds have been undergoing further renovations and improvements. Plans are currently being refined to landscape a dedicated area for a modular marquee with full 360-degree open views including the River Yealm. This will provide flexible indoor-outdoor space and greater scope to run weddings and events undercover in line with social distancing guidelines.
Once the Government gives the go-ahead for wedding receptions and larger social gatherings to resume, Kitley hopes these improvements to the venue will give guests even more opportunity to personalise their day and celebrate safely on the estate exclusively with family, friends and colleagues.