Couple who left busy lives behind to open Yorkshire hotel welcome first guests after seven month wait

A married couple who left their hectic lives in Nottingham behind to open a hotel in North Yorkshire welcomed their first guests this week after a seven-month wait.

Tony Bates, 59, and his wife Paula, 55, bought Hotel Ellenby in Scarboroughin October

Tony Bates, 59, and his wife Paula, 55, bought Hotel Ellenby in Scarborough in October and they opened on Monday, when the lockdown restrictions were relaxed.

They were co-directors of signs and graphics company Fast Graphics Ltd, but decided to move over 115 miles north and settle in the seaside town after a visit in October 2019.

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Mr Bates, a father-of-four who is originally from London, said: “I’d always fancied the seaside and Paula went along with it.

Tony Bates and his wife Paula

“But by the time we'd finished our weekend and drove back, she was very, very enthusiastic and said ‘imagine if we never had to go home again’.”

After selling their business in Nottingham, they bought the Grade II listed hotel in Queen’s Parade, which comes with 11 bedrooms and a stunning seaside view.

The couple, who have not run a hotel before, moved in back in October 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic prevented them from opening until earlier this week.

“The place was ready to trade and it was well kept, even though it had been closed for a long time,” said Mr Bates.

“But you want to put your own stamp on it. It's given us time to do things like lay carpet throughout the place and buy new furniture.

“We've also managed to establish local contacts and we're trying to buy a lot more local.

“We’re buying beer from a local brewery and our breakfast meat is coming from Knuckles the butchers in Scarborough market, which has been there for 102 years ago.

“We have a commitment to try and support the local economy.”

The couple are now busy taking bookings for the summer season but are also making time to enjoy the local restaurants and theatres, take plenty of walks along the seafront and meet their new neighbours.

“The people are genuinely so incredibly nice,” said Mr Bates.

“Everywhere we've gone, everyone sort of adopts you and they don't mind you’ve just turned up because I think they’re used to it at seaside towns aren't they? People just come and they go.

“It is the original seaside resort and it has all the amusements and things like that.

“But then you can walk five minutes away from there and you come to the castle on North Bay on one side and on the other side there’s South Cliff with a rugged coastline

“You can walk half an hour and look back on Scarborough and you’re looking at this incredible coastline. For us, that was what did it.”

Earlier this week, tourism businesses in Yorkshire were urged to capitalise on the uncertainty surrounding overseas travel to entice more holidaymakers in the wake of the latest easing of lockdown restrictions.

James Mason, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said the next few months will be “crucial” for Yorkshire’s tourism sector, which was worth £9bn and employed 225,000 people before the pandemic.

Mr Bates is confident that Scarborough and other Yorkshire attractions can compete with popular overseas destinations.

“People need to remember, before they rush abroad, that this country is quite something and embrace it again,” he said.