Cyngor Gwynedd business loan facilitates relaunch of historic Harlech hospitality business
The Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 left many businesses in turmoil, with several closing their doors for good. But for one family, in a roundabout way the pandemic opened up an opportunity for them to start a brand new venture.
Jason Way and his family astutely noted that with international travel off the cards, Brits were holidaying at home – and Snowdonia was seeing a huge increase in tourism between lockdowns. So, he took the plunge and bought a pub and hotel in Harlech, just 50 metres from the castle.
Jason, who is UK Business Development Director for Assetz Capital in Manchester, says: “We were looking for a family-run pub/hotel business to buy during the Covid pandemic, and Snowdonia tourist figures became very high and continue to grow.”
Finding the right business to buy wasn’t that difficult, as Jason explains: “Gwynedd has a strategic development plan for Harlech and wants to attract more hotel accommodation and visitor facilities.”
The building Jason bought – Harlech House – is 150 years old, and the only pub/hotel in Upper Harlech. It had been closed for six years, having previously been owned by Enterprise Inns.
It seems a big leap for a big city banker to open a hotel in Snowdonia. But Jason has experience in the industry, having been Operations Director for a large UK leisure business with food and beverage operations. What’s more, he and his family have also owned a number of family catering businesses and restaurants in south east Wales.
A cash injection was going to be needed to get the business off the ground so that Jason, his wife, and his son Josh could start renovating the building and preparing it for opening. That’s where Cyngor Gwynedd were able to step in and help - by providing a substantial loan through the Town Centre Loans Fund.
Although the pub half of the business opened to the public on 7 October, the accommodation side – which will include luxury glamping pods in the back garden – won’t be fully open until spring 2023. The loan has been a huge help in funding the renovation, furnishing and staffing of the new business.
Asked about future plans for the business, Jason says it will be a “simple operation, but quality; a wet-driven local pub selling craft ales and wines while offering much-needed accommodation and year-round employment for Harlech.”
And it’s clear that tourists aren’t Jason and his family’s only concern – he’s keen to point out that given Harlech House’s prime, central location in Upper Harlech, the business will also meet the demands of local people who are already enjoying having a stylish new social space to enjoy all year round, right in the heart of their community.
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The purpose of the loan is to improve the property for continued ownership, to sell, to rent or unlock a vacant or stalled site. Improvements can include making a residential property safe, warm and / or secure.