The Hotel Inspector Channel 5: Historic Yorkshire Dales business Stump Cross Caverns has seen its busiest season in 20 years following advice from Alex Polizzi after struggling due to rising costs and soaring energy prices

The owner of a popular Yorkshire Dales attraction said her business was saved by an advert she spotted on Facebook - as The Hotel Inspector’s Alex Polizzi’s advice led to their best season in 20 years.

Historic Yorkshire Dales visitor attraction Stump Cross Caverns has been open to the public since its discovery in 1860.

Lisa Bowerman, 54, bought the business in 2003 and since then the limestone cave system has expanded with its own cinema, gift shop, cafe and outdoor play area.

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However, since the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms Bowerman has experienced challenges keeping the business afloat - particularly during the cost of living crisis which has seen rising costs and soaring energy prices.

Oliver Bowerman (Lisa’s son), Alex Polizzi, Lisa Bowerman (Caverns owner) and her fiance Nick Markham. (Pic credit: Channel 5)Oliver Bowerman (Lisa’s son), Alex Polizzi, Lisa Bowerman (Caverns owner) and her fiance Nick Markham. (Pic credit: Channel 5)
Oliver Bowerman (Lisa’s son), Alex Polizzi, Lisa Bowerman (Caverns owner) and her fiance Nick Markham. (Pic credit: Channel 5)

Ms Bowerman, who previously worked in the children’s nursery sector, struggled to see a future for the business even after trying hard to take necessary measures to keep it going.

One cold February evening she came across an advert for The Hotel Inspector on Facebook for businesses who needed help during these uncertain times.

She jumped at the chance to apply and was accepted.

Since filming for the episode, which aired today (October 24) and receiving much needed advice and guidance from hotelier and presenter Alex Polizzi, Ms Bowerman has seen a massive improvement in the business.

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“I remember sitting snuggled up in my armchair one cold February evening doing social media posts. I was worried sick about the upcoming season,” she said.

“We had limped out of the Covid 19 pandemic.

“The thing that saved us was a Crowdfunder.

“We had used our Campervan and Family apartment in Pateley Bridge to raise much needed funds to keep the visitor attraction open.

“Now we are facing surging inflation rates, rising costs and soaring household energy prices which have resulted in a devastating cost of living crisis. It just seemed like there was no end to it. I was drained and exhausted with it all.”

Ms Bowerman said she was inspired to apply thanks to a Facebook advert she spotted.

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“As I was scrolling Facebook I noticed an advert calling for any business who needed help during these unprecedented times, including tourist attractions, to get in touch”, she added.

“We had watched The Hotel inspector and had seen how Alex could turn businesses around so I emailed straight away.

“Alex is a wonderful lady who understands family business; her years of knowledge and expertise have helped to turn ours around. It wasn’t an easy process, change never is!

“But I trusted Alex and knew we had to listen to her and follow her guidance if we were to succeed.

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“We have just had the busiest season ever and can be certain that the changes have been successful and we now feel we are on the right path.”

Ms Bowerman, from Pateley Bridge, runs Stump Cross Caverns with her fiance Nick, a shop manager, and her son Oliver who is co-director.

She admits that it was difficult to ask for help but she has no regrets and is looking to the future.

“It seemed crazy to own something so special, a national treasure, and lose the ability to share it with folk. We live and work on site. Imagine living here and not being open,” she said.

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“Alex and her team were all incredible and put us all at ease. To be honest it was full on from the onset as there wasn’t much time to get everything done. Alex and her team made a plan and then it was about head down, focus, get it done!

“As a business owner of 20 years, I don’t mind telling you, it’s hard to let anyone into your business and ask for help but we did just that and we are absolutely over the moon.”

Ms Bowerman shared her experience working with Alex.

“Alex looked carefully at the whole business with an expert eye,” she said.

“Her vision and changes for the business weren’t done on a whim, they were carefully thought through and we were very lucky that Alex also called in other experts to help.

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“Change is always hard but we knew we needed it. We were tired of being busy fools. Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees!

“We listened very carefully to all Alex’s advice and have taken on board everything that she has suggested. Some things are in the process of being implemented.

“We will be forever grateful and it will be something I will never forget. Alex’s guidance has made us realise our mistakes.”

Looking to the future, the business is set to host a variety of new inclusive events for children with special educational needs (SEN) as well as a new lighting system within the caves.

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“Our future plans are to continue making a profit so we can totally change the entire lighting system within the caves,” Ms Bowerman said.

“We have started the pot off with the prize draw for the apartment in Pateley Bridge but on Alex’s advice we will save more before we complete it.

“We plan to focus more on education both SEN and mainstream. I have started offering SEN fossil digs and discovery days which I find very rewarding with my background in children’s nursing.

“On Alex’s advice we are offering packages to couples and adults in the shoulder periods. We have put a brand new event on this Halloween, a fright night for over 14 year olds on the 27th and 28th October. This is being presented by a theatre group called We are Theatre Yorkshire. So very excited to see how it turns out.

“We are now so excited to see what the future holds. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Alex Polizzi and her team for all their help and support.”

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