Stay positive and hope staycations are here to stay

Michael Caines

Chef Michael Caines is looking ahead with positivity - Credit: Matt Round Photography

Celebrity chef Michael Caines is talking on his hands free car phone … dashing between meetings, having returned from London the day before.

For someone who thrives on being busy, a return to a form of normality has been a long time coming for him.

However, despite being a pint half full kind of guy, he is apprehensive about what lies ahead.

“It’s been a relief to come out of lockdown but I fear we aren’t out of the woods yet,” he said.

“I’m keeping one eye on the horizon as we approach the autumn but it’s good to have turned the corner.”

And it’s understandable that he’s apprehensive. The first lockdown hit Michael hard, delaying the planned opening date for his Exmouth beach restaurant, Mickeys, and forcing him to temporarily shut his upmarket East Devon hotel, Lympstone Manor.

The second set of restrictions came at a time when bookings had picked up as a result of the great British staycation and the third forced closure led to another significant loss in revenue.

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When Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown, Michael was preparing to celebrate Lympstone Manor’s third anniversary.

“The last year or so has been a case of permanently adapting, changing and learning how to survive,” he said.

“On the plus side, Lympstone Manor is still operating at almost full capacity due to the travel restrictions on some foreign holidays and bookings have been healthy at Mickeys too.

“There has been no let up in demand and that trend looks to continue into 2022.”

The fact that so many of us ‘staycated’ has also given Michael another reason to be optimistic.

“I think a lot of people have rekindled their love for holidaying in the UK and I’m hopeful that we will reap the benefits from that in years to come,” he said.

Exeter-born Michael is still wrestling with a number industry-wide issues including a shortage of staff which has forced him to close Mickeys two days a week and he is also playing catch up financially.

“It’s not been easy but, hey, we have to remain positive. That’s what has got me through all this so far,” he said.

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