Learn more about the Winter Wonderland Igloos at Goathland's Mallyan Spout Hotel
A Whitby Guide exclusive interview with Kay of Mallyan Spout Hotel. Words by Lindsey Ebbs.
Igloos? In Goathland?
Yes, there really are Igloos in Goathland.
The Winter Wonderland set in the beautiful garden of the Mallyan Spout Hotel is the location for these surprisingly charming Eskimo homes. This was a clever diversification plan by the family who own the hotel. The idea arose in the middle of 2020.
They, like other businesses in hospitality, have been badly affected by the pandemic and have had to show a lot of creative thinking in looking for other opportunities so that they will survive and eventually thrive.
An exclusive interview
Kay, one of the owners of the Mallyan, was very kind in letting me ask some questions about the family business and the thought processes that went on whilst trying to keep their business afloat in what can only be described as the worst year of most people’s lives.
For those of you who are not familiar with Goathland (not Goatland), it’s a small village located in the North York Moors, just a short 9-mile drive from Whitby.
For our older readers, you may know Goathland better as Aidensfield the name by which it stared in the classic ITV series Heartbeat.
Younger readers may recognise Hogsmeade station from the Harry Potter films. Sadly, for us muggles, it’s just plain and simple Goathland Station.
What an incredible sight the Igloos are, they have certainly made a splash on Instagram. What inspired you to install them in the first place?
We were looking to diversify into new business opportunities and had been brainstorming over our morning coffee for a few days but nothing was coming through.
Then after a visit to York, Stuart came back very excited saying he had seen our next venture – in the shape of an Igloo.
After a visit to try them out, we decided we would see if we could try and get them in our garden. We ordered four, to see how we got on with them and hoped to get them in place for December, ready for the run up to Christmas.
Of course – they were out of stock with no idea of a delivery time. Then the bad news came in the form of a second lockdown, we didn’t hold out any hope that we would have them in place in 2020.
Totally out of the blue, in mid-November, they arrived …… flat packed of course! on the same day we received the news that hospitality could reopen on December 2nd.
After a big mad rush and with lots of help from a few amazing people, family members and our on-site maintenance hero, Simon, and of course Stuart, we had them up and ready to go for the day the Mallyan was allowed to reopen.
They do have a magical “Winter Wonderland” feel to them but will you still use them in the summer?
Winter of course, was always going to be magical for the Igloos as they look awesome with the outside lights in the garden and the fairy lights.
Also, inside they have a flame effect heating stove and an Alexa to play Christmas tunes so it was a great time to launch them.
However, we do have plans to use them throughout the year as each season they will have a completely different look, especially when the garden and weather changes.
We plan to offer lighter eating options in them over the summer such as Mediterranean sharing platters, light bites, lots of summer cocktails, Pimm’s and plenty of fizz.
I think we will all be ready for a summer full of fun, eating, drinking… fingers crossed – lots of sunshine and lazy days spent enjoying outside space with some nice food and drinks!
How many people can one Igloo fit, and does it have to be for a meal or are you allowed to book them for drinks only?
Under our last set of government guidelines (tier 2) we can seat a maximum of 6 people inside an Igloo as long as people are from the same household or support bubble.
When life is back to a more normal situation – we could seat 8 people per Igloo.
This also gives the option then for people to book multiple igloos and be able to mingle outside as well, perfect for small parties and celebrations of up to around 30 guests.
We currently take reservations for food (not just drinks as this hasn’t been allowed anyway) but plan to continue to sell them for a dining experience for the foreseeable future.
How long have you had the Mallyan Spout and what made you decide to move there?
We bought the hotel in July 2003. We are two families myself, my brother and his wife. After a few life changing circumstances prior to 2003, this led us to chat about doing something together.
Since two of us are experienced in this industry (Stuart was a farmer for many years) we thought hospitality was a good option for us.
Location wasn’t an issue and we were really led by what was available through the selling agents.
Wiltshire, Herefordshire Border, Lake District were all options. We were due to view a hotel in the Yorkshire Dales but the day before our viewing, somebody had made an offer.
So, the agent called our viewing off but said he had one in The North York Moors in the village of Goathland.
To be honest, none of us had ever heard of it, but we decided to come and have a look anyway, totally unaware of the Heartbeat connection.
After looking around and being so impressed with the beautiful surrounding area, the hotel was full of potential and we could see a vision of what it could become with a lot of TLC.
After lots of umming and ahhing, we were still left undecided.
We then cited that old saying – “but what if”?
If we don’t do it and then look back, regret and wonder what the hotel might have been?
Or do we do it, commit and realise its potential… nearly 18 years later, we have the answer and no regrets!
I know the business is family run, how do you find working with family on a daily basis?
We all get on great as a family – myself and Stuart have always been close and really get on well, he is my big brother and is always right (we let him think that).
Nicky (my sister-in-law) and I actually met at Brownies in the 70s, we have become close like sisters and best friends.
Of course, there are sometimes differences of opinions but generally, we have a good working relationship and don’t fall out about anything. We are all quite chilled and laid back.
Between us, we have 5 children, all grown up now, but they have played a big part in helping the family business become a success.
How have you dealt with the challenges of multiple lockdowns and changing tiers in between, to keep the hotel, restaurant and café running?
Well, it isn’t something we ever envisaged happening, I mean a pandemic! Nobody had a clue how to get through this but have certainly learnt as we have gone along.
After and during the first lockdown we all trained on COVID-19 safety measures and how to implement them.
The housekeeping regime became stricter and we invested in a fogging machine which sanitizers the rooms once they have been cleaned.
All staff are temperature checked prior to starting their shift, all wash or sanitize their hands frequently and of course, they wear face masks.
There are lots of sanitisers dotted around the hotel alongside a cleaning check list to make sure the door handles, surfaces and switches that people touch often are disinfected regularly.
A table only service is in operation, which helps our guests to keep their distance from each other and the tables in our bar, restaurant, lounges and cafe are the correct distance apart for social distancing.
Checking local government for any changes to the COVID rules is a daily occurrence, ensuring we are up to date and therefore sticking to the guidelines.
The AA have passed us as a Covid secure establishment, which is great recognition for our hard work and also very reassuring for our guests
Is there anything that you have had to implement to help the business survive 2020 that you have since decided to keep permanently?
Prior to the third lockdown we had just taken delivery of the Igloos/ garden pods and were going to run them throughout the winter and make it an annual event for the festive period.
Due to the popularity of the Igloos, we made the decision to keep them up all year around.
Each season will offer a different experience due to the spectacular, ever changing views of the surrounding garden and countryside. There will be seasonal menu and drinks to accompany each theme.
When the nights draw in at the beginning of October, we will revert back to the winter wonderland theme.
So, look out for new ideas and things to do, and book well in advance if you fancy trying one out for a Christmas get together.
During the first lockdown we introduced a Mallyan messenger which we send to regular guests which then updates them on what the family, staff and hotel have been up to.
It's a WhatsApp group that informs members of any new ventures or offers/events that we have and we will continue to do this.
These two changes that we implemented during the pandemic are something that we will keep going forward, hopefully into a more normal year ahead.
I think we should have all learnt from this that things can change so quickly in life and we look forward to welcoming everyone back to The Mallyan as soon as possible.
We thank all of our lovely customers and friends for their continued love and support through what has been a difficult year for so many.
Stay safe and well.
Learn more about the Mallyan Spout Hotel on their website – www.mallyanspout.co.uk
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