Can you tell us more about your property?
The Enchanted Manor was built in 1938, by the Kirkpatrick family who were bankers on the Isle of Wight – coming originally from Scotland. And it stayed in their family up until the early 60’s. It was quite a special place and often frequented by royalty. In the early 60’s it became a hotel and was running quite successfully for quite a number of years. Unfortunately, when we bought it 10 years ago, it had become very run down and quite dilapidated. The people that ran it didn’t quite know what they were doing. But when we walked through he door, we just knew that we had to have it. So we bought it when it was at the rock bottom and we’ve since been transforming it into something special and unique.
So what is it about a stay with you that makes it so quirky?
We wanted to do something a bit different- an unusual hotel. We wanted to provide people with something so they can just come away and forget about the realities of life. To just come to somewhere special and unique to relax and enjoy themselves. And we always try and do something a little bit different, every year we try and develop something new. This year we decided to take a chance and not do the normal cooked breakfast and started doing our bread and butterfly picnics. And they are proving really popular. I make everything myself – we have little savory tarts with butterflies on. They can have them in their suites or in the dining room. It’s done out in a picnic style now, so you don’t have to have it outside. If the weathers nice then we have beautiful gardens, and on our doorstep is the most beautiful countryside which overlooks st Catherine’s bay. So it’s more flexible. We’ve actually got a wedding coming up this weekend, and I’ve got to do 52 butterfly picnics. So at the moment i’m decorating all the boxes, making them look all pretty. I think as long as you do something with quality, you can do something different- and i think it does attract most people.
What’s your favourite thing about your property?
The most wonderful thing is that we knew we wanted the property as soon as we walked though the door 10 years ago. It still had a wonderful atmosphere. My favourite thing is that every time we come down our drive, we get that wonderful feeling when you walk through the door. It’s like you’re transformed into a different world.
Do you think that people are looking for somewhere a bit out of the ordinary to stay?
Oh definitely. When we go away we’re always looking for somewhere a bit different with great quality. With most of the big hotels, you could be anywhere in the world, and you don’t have that personal attention – which we feel is really necessary. And we do struggle when we’re looking for places to stay. That’s why we did this, because we wanted to create somewhere that we would enjoy going to. There are so many chain hotels now, and they all look the same. But we feel that you’ve got to have that personal service and be different. When we first moved here, people said ‘you’re limiting your market too much,’ but that hasn’t happened with us. There are so many people that are fed up with the run of the mill hotels. So I think that’s where we’ve got the edge.
So how did you end up in the industry?
Well, it was really strange because I came over here on a day trip in the early 80’s with no intention of moving over. And I just passed this old run down house and I thought it looked nice. I went into the agent and I found out that it was within our budget. So I went back home and packed up everything, moved over, spent a year renovating it, turning it into a beautiful B&B and never looked back.
Do you have any funny guest stories?
This has happened a few times and we find it quite strange, we’ve had people to come here who have got married, or they’ve come on a romantic break with their partner and they’ve obviously enjoyed it. And then maybe a few years later they come again but with a different partner. We once had a couple who came to us every year for a number of years and sadly they decided it was time for them to break up, and we didn’t hear from them for about a year. Then we had a phone call both in the same week (they didn’t know,) they rang up to book with other partners! We thought they’d be coming at the same time and it would be awful. But luckily they came a week apart!
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