Peak District Log Cabin Holidays with Disabled Access | COVID Safe Travel
Is an isolated farm stay the perfect safe and accessible holiday in the COVID era? In this #SafeAccessibleTravel interview I chat with David and Felicity Brown from Hoe Grange Holidays, who offer self-catering log cabins with disabled access in the Peak District.
Can you tell us a little bit about Hoe Grange Holidays?
Hidden in the spectacular Peak District hills between Ashbourne and Bakewell, Hoe Grange Holidays offers four stylish self-catering log cabins, two gorgeous glamping pods and a romantic gypsy caravan.
At Hoe Grange Holidays we are passionate about providing high-quality wheelchair accessible holidays with outstanding disabled facilities and a wide range of specialist equipment. We also welcome guests with autism and learning difficulties who find Hoe Grange a peaceful haven away from crowds.
All four of our cosy log cabins have level thresholds throughout and are rated under the National Accessible Scheme.
Our larger Pinder cabin has three bedrooms, with a standard family bathroom and is rated Hearing Level 1 and Mobility Level 1, ideal for more mobile, active guests.
Hipley, Rainster and Daisybank cabins all have two bedrooms, sleeping up to 4 guests and are wheelchair friendly with a spacious accessible layout. The zip and link beds in the double rooms are flexible so you can choose to have single beds or super king doubles.
The wet room showers are wheelchair accessible and have grab rails, achieving NAS Mobility Level 2 and Level 3 Assisted. For added independence, Hipley cabin has a Closomat wash and dry toilet.
For those with hearing loss or partial sight, these three lodges are also rated Hearing Level 1 and Visual Level 1.
What is your role?
David and Felicity Brown are the owners of Hoe Grange Holidays and live on-site on the farm.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
We closed to visitors during the official lockdown. A large proportion of our guests have some form of disability and many are in the vulnerable groups who are shielding, so we also had many cancellations for later in the summer.
We had very little money coming in from new bookings and had to give out lots of refunds for cancellations, so our cash flow was severely affected. With a minimal grant from the Government and no other support as a limited company, we have had to take out a bounce-back loan to tide us through. Our housekeepers were put on furlough whilst David and Felicity carried out major maintenance such as painting cabin windows and replacing decking. Our housekeepers and Felicity took the opportunity to also do the Purple Disability and Customer Service training modules online.
To keep ourselves positive during lockdown, maintain our relationship with guests and attract possible new customers, we maintained an active social media presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, often using #fascinatingfact to explain modern farming and interesting information about the local area.
Hoe Grange Holidays provides dedicated accessible facilities for disabled guests. How has the accessibility been affected by any changes you’ve had to make?
As usual, all accessible equipment booked by guests will be in place ready for their arrival and we ask guests before arrival if they need any furniture or beds rearranging. We make sure visitors feel they have all the information they need before their visit, but we won’t be doing the usual welcoming tour of the cabins.
We are currently offering a self-check-in, but as we live on-site, we will be around as guests arrive. We can still help with unloading luggage if needed, with appropriate PPE and social distancing measures. We will still be providing excellent customer service and guests can contact us by phone or email.
Have you taken any extra training to ensure that Hoe Grange Holidays is COVID safe?
David, Felicity and all the housekeepers have completed a 6 hour certified “Cleaning and Infection Control for Domestic and Housekeepers Course” through Cleaning Masterclass and completed the test at the end. We have introduced new cleaning checklists which housekeepers complete and sign for each changeover and carried out a full COVID risk assessment. We sent out a survey through email and social media asking for feedback on our proposed changes due to Coronavirus to make sure we can still offer the excellent customer service our guests expect.
Hoe Grange Holidays has achieved the Visit England 'We're Good to Go" Mark. This certification means we are following government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and have all the correct cleaning protocols, risk assessments and preparations in place for making your holiday as risk-free as we can.
Can you tell us about the cleaning procedures you’ve put in place?
Our cabins and glamping pods are thoroughly cleaned to our usual high standards using eco-friendly cleaning products. Once clean, the areas that people touch the most - such as door handles, light switches, door frames, appliances, and work surfaces - are all disinfected. We use a disinfectant called BAC 5 which kills 99.999% germs (not just 99.9%), targeting both viruses and bacteria. It has no odour and remains on surfaces for a long time, giving good protection. It is highly unlikely to cause any problems, but we can’t say it is hypo-allergenic.
Our housekeepers now work on their own in one property instead of in teams, reducing the number of people entering each cabin or pod. We give them gloves, disposable aprons and face masks to keep both staff and guests safe.
Have removed all unnecessary ornaments
Change mattress protectors and pillows between guests
Wash all bedding and towels at 60 degrees and dry them on the line in the sunshine
Provide hand sanitiser and extra hand towels for guests use
Seal TV remote controls in small plastic bags and change these between guests
Run cutlery and crockery and glasses through the dishwasher ready for arrival
Have you adjusted check-in and check-out times and procedures?
We have moved check-in to 4 pm, an hour later than before, to allow more time for cleaning. Our guest survey told us that visitors still want to check-out at 10 am, so departure time has stayed the same. We can also still offer a later check-out if arranged in advance.
To start with, we are operating a self-check-in. The accommodation will be open and ready to receive guests and there will be a welcoming note with our contact numbers in case of any difficulties. We will be keeping a strict social distance but will be on hand with appropriate PPE if needed to help unload luggage.
The guest information files have been removed from the cabins but information is available to guests through our online booking system in the new “Manage My Booking” tab. Information includes directions, what to bring, what’s included, eating out and the pubs that are currently doing takeaway meals, where to visit and what’s currently open.
We are asking guests where possible to remove bedsheets and put sheets and dirty towels in a laundry bag to minimise the risk to our staff. We are also asking guests to empty bins and leave the windows open.
Are you offering extra flexibility for bookings?
We have introduced a new money back guarantee where guests can cancel their booking for any reason up to 3 days before their arrival and get 100% of their money refunded. This applies to all bookings and is an added insurance expense for us, but it’s worth it to give our guests confidence to book.
As you reopen, roughly how many people will be on-site at any one time?
Nestled in the Derbyshire countryside, it’s easy to maintain social distancing at Hoe Grange. If all the accommodation is booked at the same time, there will be approximately 22 people on site. Each property is the perfect size for one household and the cabins and pods are at a safe distance from each other with their own parking areas, so the risk is minimal. We will be asking guests to adhere to social distancing guidelines during their stay.
Eating and drinking – will supermarkets deliver to Hoe Grange Holidays? Are there local, safe options for takeaways and/or eating out?
Supermarkets do deliver but we also promote Sauced Here and Peak District Deli that deliver local Peak District produce. Our little on-site shop is closed but guests can pre-order ice cream, milk, butter, yoghurts and bacon, sausage and burgers - all sourced locally.
The nearest pub in Brassington village is delivering takeaway meals to the door and other local pubs are offering takeaways to be collected at a prearranged time with social distancing measures in place. Local pubs and cafes are now open but guests must prebook places
For guests who wish to get out and about, are there accessible activities or places to visit nearby with social distancing measures in place?
Chatsworth House and Gardens, Heights of Abraham, Carsington Water, Cromford Mills Peak Wildlife Park, Kedleston Hall Gardens are all open, but tickets have to be pre-booked. We are keeping track of what other visitor attractions in the area are opening and sharing details on our social media.
An important thing to consider when getting out and about is the availability of accessible toilets. Are you aware of local accessible toilets which are open at the moment?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any at the moment but we will are monitoring the Changing Places and County Council websites.
Are you able to provide information about nearby hospitals?
Yes – Royal Derby Hospital is the nearest.
Have you made any changes that we haven’t already covered?
We hope we have done everything possible to keep everyone safe at this difficult time. We still want to provide a warm welcome despite social distancing and the extra measures we have in place. If there is anything you think we have missed, we are always happy to hear from guests!
Where can people find out more about Hoe Grange Holidays?
A huge thank you to David and Felicity for taking the time to answer my questions! I’ve stayed at Hoe Grange Holidays twice, most recently in 2019. You can read my review of Hoe Grange’s Peak District accessible log cabins here.
If you’re planning future wheelchair accessible travels, I have some blog posts which may help.
Read More: #SafeAccessibleTravel Interviews