Home from home break in our Naturally Inspiring Bay is just what Carolyn and friends needed

Group friends on harbour bridge

Enjoying the views at Torquay harbour - Credit: DenniAnn photography

Torbay tourism leader Carolyn Custerson decided she needed a break to catch up with friends she hasn't seen for months except through a lap-top and the power of zoom.

But where to go for the mini-holiday? Carolyn decided on a resort very close to her heart - the English Riviera.

As chief executive of the English Riviera BID company,  she is devoted to extolling the virtues of our 'Naturally Inspiring' Bay to the rest of the world. At the moment she is helping to lead a campaign to secure a 'yes' vote from the industry for a second term championing the resort as the UK's leading destination.  She and husband Tony and friends Paul and Jenny Spencer from Maidstone and Gary and Denise Philpotts from Birmingham sampled holiday time on the Riviera. Here she was as the visitor and the guest and here is what she thought:

Last weekend was a really memorable time meeting close friends we had not seen for ages right here on the English Riviera for a proper mini holiday. 
For many years I worked in Tour Operating with specialist tour operator Saga Holidays where it was my job to put together detailed itineraries. So, with four nights and three days to fill for a group of active 60-year-olds, I set up my Excel Spreadsheet so that I could Plan, Book and Reconfirm all the things we had said we would like to do if we could.

COVID does mean that doing your research is essential to keep everything moving smoothly and booking ahead and reconfirming is vital. 
So, this is what we did after our friends had checked into the Hilton Hampton which they had chosen to stay at and booked direct:
Thursday Evening 
Pre-Dinner Drinks at Bar 21 
Dinner @ Rockfish Torquay
Friday 
Full day guided Land Rover Safari to Dartmoor 
Saturday 
Full Day to Brixham sailing on the Western Lady 
Lunch at Berry Head Hotel 
Dinner at On the Rocks (Torquay) 
Sunday 
Adventure Mini Golf Torquay 
Lunch at the Aztec Bistro 
Red House Mystery Escape Rooms – Torquay 
Cocktails @ Soho 
Drinks at Offshore Bar   
With the exception of Dartmoor, we walked everywhere and clocked up over 30,000 steps, which with all that we had consumed was needed and took some lovely photos on the way.  
The one thing I want to highlight is the staff we met who are working in very challenging conditions, working long shifts.

My ‘shout out’ is please please be kind and be patient, these are not normal times and table service means that everything takes longer.

Digital ways of working are now common place and you do need your iPhone at the ready for repeatedly researching opening times, emailing enquiries, phoning to reconfirm, checking in and downloading Apps to order.  Personally (and at our age) we do prefer table service and will always seek out this option if available. 
Having worked in the tourism Industry now for over 35 years I like the opportunity to interact (safely) with the people who work in our industry. I like to understand how COVID has impacted them and the challenges they have and continue to face. Furlough has hurt. Open/close (three times) has been very disruptive. I really do wish them the very very best for this summer season, which is already busier than anything we have seen for many years. 
So, my ‘hat goes off’ to all of the local staff we met during our mini holiday on the English Riviera – you are all absolute Super Stars!!  
There is no doubt that the Staycation is happening ‘big time’ evidenced by the numbers of visitors we saw also on holidaying on the English Riviera.

This presents us all with a fantastic opportunity to attract and retain hundreds of thousands of new visitors for many years to come.

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It is estimated that 58 per cent of visitors to the resort are currently first time/new visitors who would have normally holidayed abroad.

We all need to work hard to win their ‘hearts and minds’ so they too recommend us to friends and relatives and most importantly of all, return when holidays abroad open back up. That is the threat. We don’t want 2021 to be a ‘one off’ busy year of the back of COVID, but a long-term year-round growth for the English Riviera. 
On Monday morning when my friends set off, I received this message which made me really smile:
‘’Thank you so much for a fabulous weekend it really was the best time. Your brilliant Tour Guide role made the weekend and this was probably our best get together so far’’
So, job done, four more very happy visitors who can’t wait to come back.  
Thank you, English Riviera you are truly a Premier UK seaside resort.