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A DAY IN THE LIFE… …of The Royal Castle Hotel, with owner Nigel Way MBE

6am The cleaners come in and start cleaning the bars. Our head housekeeper and her assistant, Pat and Linda, have both been here for 10 years and they run a willing and hard working team. Ev- erything has to be clean and tidy ready for the day ahead.

7am Reception opens at this time. Usually our guests are getting up and about

and they might have matters that need our attention. We have someone on reception until 11 o’clock at night. They answer online and telephone queries, organise the valet parking of cars, welcome new arrivals and ensure the safe departure of guests. It is a very busy job. This morning reception was full of people and dogs, and the reception- ist was calmly dealing with everybody’s queries. Service is important to us. The breakfast chef also comes in at 7am.

7.30am Breakfast starts and everyone is welcome to have breakfast here. That includes our overnight guests of course, upstairs in the restaurant, but also local people who regularly meet here for breakfast, or visitors to the town who come and join us. It’s very sociable in the Harbour Bar in the mornings. During the Regatta, all the big cheeses who make things happen come here for their morning meetings and have breakfast, and when it’s all finished we give a full breakfast to the street cleaners who get up early to get the town back to normal. I always think of the hotel like a theatre production – cur- tain up at 7am and it doesn’t come down until midnight. That’s a long performance, every day!

8am This is usually the time when people start coming into the Harbour Bar in greater numbers. They know they’ll get a breakfast, and one of Carlos’s famous coffees which have become an institution!

8.15am I come in after I’ve walked the dog. She often comes in with me. I like to walk along the river every morning to remind myself why I came to Dartmouth in the first place. It doesn’t disappoint. I used to live in the hotel with my family, but it was quite a challenge with young children so we moved up to Mount Boone. My daughter Rebecca is now part of the management team here, and my son Tim lives in Mid Devon, but is working in Dart- mouth at the moment as part of the team working on the Higher Street buildings damaged in the fire.

9am – 10am By this time the mid-morning clear up is underway, tidying up after breakfast ready for lunch. We also have our housekeeping team hard at work on the 25 bedrooms. It is so important that they are clean and tidy – a stray hair in a plughole can be the difference between people coming back or never booking again. It’s usually at 9am that we allow any tradesmen here to start working. This is a very old building – it dates from the 1630s, a Tudor building with a Regency façade – so there is always some maintenance job that needs doing. We use local people who we know will do a good job, not get in the way of our guests and clear up after themselves. We don’t let them start too early otherwise that would be a nuisance to people staying here.

9.30am This is often the time we do staff training or appraisals, but because we are working around the clock we fit them in as and when. It’s not unusual for our bar staff to be tasting new drinks at this time or the morning. We operate a rolling programme of appraisals and swap staff between here and my other hotel, the Seven Stars in Totnes, sharing best practice but hopefully not bad habits!

10am Local groups often hold morning committee meet- ings in our function rooms so they have to be prepared ready. Again it’s like a play – Act One , Scene Two: the restaurant becomes a function room; Act One, Scene Three: the library becomes the venue for a civil wedding. We are very much a part of the community and lots of groups meet here. It is the home of the Dart Music Festival, for example.

Downstairs in the Galleon Bar we might have a charity staging a coffee morning or bring and buy sale. Again it is important and wonderful to be used by the community in this way. A lot of people have marked important events at the Royal Castle and we are part of their lives, whether they have got married here, celebrated an important an- niversary or birthday, or said goodbye here to a member of their family. We are at the heart of so many occasions.

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