14 July 2020
Whilst many in the hotel and hospitality industry grapple with the challenge of converting their facilities to accommodate complex social distancing requirements, Cornwall’s leading style hotel has employed the ultimate in coastal blue-sky thinking and created the UK’s first purpose-designed and built ‘socially distanced’ hotel restaurant.
The brainchild of founders Hugh and Steve Ridgway, and the St Moritz Director of Restaurants Jonathan Domé, the new summer restaurant has not only surpassed the Government requirements on safe and socially distanced dining, it has optimised them at every turn, providing a new and exclusive private dining experience for individuals, couples and groups at St Moritz Hotel & Spa
Nicknamed ‘The Anti-Social Club’, the new dining concept consists of 16 private dining rooms, with a maximum of 96 covers. Mixing the elements of private members clubs, private dining rooms, cool beach clubs and summer pop-up restaurants, the Anti-Social Club features multiple dining times, clear guidance and exacting operating procedures that ensure the 2 metre rule and new environmental health requirements are met at all times. This will usher in a new ‘bubble’ dining ethos as an exclusive dining opportunity.
The summer pop-up restaurant has been specifically designed to ensure that the individual dining rooms all accessed from outside, with the service function being provided from a central atrium, and all food and drink being delivered to the private dining rooms via a set of hatches. This clever design, and the complementary operational procedures, mean that the St Moritz service team don’t need to go into the dining rooms, and the individual, staggered dining times mean that guests won’t run into each other. The innovative set-up also means that each and every room can be completely cleared and appropriately cleaned, then re-set-up, to meet all requirements, between each dining party.
With interiors masterminded by multi-award-winning Cornish agency Absolute, who provided the original design for the stylish hotel, The Anti-Social Club will takes its inspiration from the clean, white art deco architecture of the hotel, mixing a subtle Miami colour-pop palette with classic coastal stripes, textures and flourishes.
St Moritz Director of Restaurants Jonathan Domé will drive menus that pay tribute to the incredible Cornish food suppliers and producers, all enjoyed in a relaxed, sharing style of service. St Moritz Hotel & Spa employs at least 65 staff year round, and the Anti-Social Club will require a team of at least 20 to run across the high season, providing vital local jobs and economic benefits.
Co-owner Hugh Ridgway says: “COVID-19 has stopped the industry in its tracks. Like all hotels, bars and restaurants across the globe, the virus has hit our business like an unbelievable sledgehammer. However, as ever, we have dusted ourselves off, and risen to this unpredictable challenge in our own creative, St Moritz way.”
Hugh continues, “Our purposeful architecture allows us to trade our rooms in a safe and socially distanced manner, however we can only sell those hotel rooms if we can feed our guests – and feed them well. Simply reworking our current restaurants and bars, and operating at 30% capacity doesn’t allow that, so our specially-designed summer ‘pop-up’ restaurant, overcomes this obstacle, adding to, rather than detracting from, our stylish, VIP guest experience.”
Hugh’s brother, Steve Ridgway, until last month the Chairman of Visit Britain and former Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “We are forever talking about the pioneering British spirit and it’s true to say that out of adversity comes creativity. Within Visit Britain we have been encouraging the industry to discover, and unlock, experimental opportunities that provide a silver lining amongst the COVID challenges. With The Anti-Social Club, and other changes to St Moritz Hotel & Spa, I am very much putting my money where my mouth is - and we’re all exceedingly pleased to have landed on a new concept and dining solution that elevates the summer experience there. Thousands of customers do not want to miss their summer holidays and this will mean that they won’t, and that they can holiday in a safe and enjoyable way.”
St Moritz Hotel & Spa has recently completed the Safe, Clean & Legal accreditation from Quality in Tourism, assuring guests of their safety as lockdown begins to lift. Deborah Heather, Director of Quality in Tourism said "We have been impressed with the amount of innovation we have seen across the tourism & hospitality industry during the pandemic. The Anti-Social Dining Club at St Moritz is a step beyond, faultless in the conception, it's operational process and the ability to still ensure that guests feel safe, welcomed and most importantly enjoy the experience of eating out."