About five years ago a group of local folks made a short-term cash investment (but a long-term tangible investment) in the community by helping Linda and Tony Beck purchase the crumbling Dale Hotel, with a view to increasing the number of guest beds in the village.
Those investors are long since repaid, and the village has watched as the Becks’ plans steadily evolved. First the Bunkhouse was brought back to life to accommodate overflow from the outdoor residential centre Deneholme, so that 80 beds could be offered to any one group, and then it was the Dale Cottage renovation on the end of the block, and then the Dale Town House, and gradually, step-by-step, with a sustaining cashflow from new lettings, the project moved forward.
The Dale Manor, an eighteen bed grand holiday house enterprise, goes live this evening with a practice dinner party, after years of hard, painstaking work. As Linda notes, lots of the effort was involved in creating the sort of decorative finish that guests from around the country would be happy to pay well for. Even before the Dale Manor has been completed, however, Tony tells me that they had clocked up some 6000 ‘visitor nights’ throughout their business during 2018. That reflects something like a 95% occupancy rate in the two holiday cottages since their renovation.
I asked the Becks, during a friendly chat in the midst of last-minute decoration work yesterday afternoon, “Why do folks like to visit Allendale?” It turns out it’s the ambience of the little village, the easy stroll to the pubs, the countryside itself with its endless walks, the outdoor activities put on by Becks Training Ltd, and then there’s the Golf Course, the Pony-Trekking up at Sinderhope, the friendly pubs, the big events. And the Dale Manor will be catering for all sorts of parties for which eighteen beds are ideal. The Becks have experience in dealing with many different kinds of celebrations, and they seem to handle everyone with courtesy and aplomb. Oh, and did I mention the friendly pubs all within walking distance?
Indeed, the cosmopolitan flair of these parties, these lovely groups of people from outside the local area, but mostly from around the UK, give a very special buzz to the village, helping life here feel more dynamic somehow. Young people here as part of the National Citizenship Service, or from schools, colleges, universities, and older adults here for corporate events, wedding parties, anniversaries — it’s a grand mix bringing the world in to Allendale.
The very last phase of the whole building project will involve the conversion of the far wing of the old hotel into two long-term flats. So another two dwelling places for local inhabitants will be offered, as cash-flow permits. And then, I think, the Becks may consolidate their lovely enterprise, settle down and enjoy the fruits of their labours for the next while, as they see the effects of increased visitor numbers impacting on local businesses throughout the valleys. It’s no wonder we think of Allendale as a vibrant little village, with this sort of careful, forward-thinking enterprise!