Marc Hayton, general manager, Foxhills
“Foxhills is a club and resort that employs 230 people. We offer 400 acres that includes golf courses, tennis courts and an award-winning spa, all of which contribute to our success. While managing the pandemic, we have built a £7 million leisure facility that is now due to open in May 2021.
“We are still digesting the announcement and, typically, the fine detail lags a little, with no mention of thermal rooms, which are an important part of spa days. That said, it is good that there is a plan but the business still needs certainty.
“Opening tennis, golf and outdoor classes for up to five people from March 29 is later than we hoped. Golf has proven it’s so safe that it could have been designed by Oxford/Astra Zeneca! Conversely, gyms and spas opening on April 12 is actually two weeks earlier than we forecasted.
“When our spa reopened in August, take up was slow, however, we expect it will pick up quicker this time as everyone has become more comfortable with the Covid-safe protocols.
“Our industry is burning cash every minute, so we would welcome the business rates holiday to be extended for another year. We also believe that encouraging exercise is another way to ‘Save the NHS’, so it would be a positive move to broaden the VAT reduction on some F+B to cover gym memberships for the coming 12 months.
“The government has provided the roadmap, but the spa industry will be powered by the positive energy of its people. Some of our colleagues haven’t worked since October. Speaking to them, what they miss more than the income is half a year without the camaraderie and sense of purpose. Employers must do all we can to support their wellbeing.
“Importantly, the Treasury select committee has said more than a million self-employed people have slipped through the support net. Many in our sector, such as therapists, nail technicians and personal trainers fall into that bracket. I don’t have the answer but they have been cruelly overlooked.”