With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to bite and residential school trips ruled out for the foreseeable future, Calvert Lakes has created a new revenue stream by launching a range of apartments.
Justin Farnan is business manager at the Keswick-based Calvert Lakes outdoor centre, which has been delivering residential breaks for a variety of groups, including special educational needs (SEN), for 40 years.
He said: “With the new restrictions in place regarding social distancing and household groups there will be fewer residents taking part in activity programmes in the coming months.
“Our fully accessible bed and breakfast accommodation caters for profound and complex disabilities with twins, triples and a quad room.”
The apartments, available to those with or without disabilities, comprise three self-contained two-bedroom mini-apartments which can each sleep up to four people.
The accommodation is available to charities, organisations or individual families looking for a safe and secure location for people to recuperate following the effects of lockdown on their welfare, wellbeing or mental health.
In keeping with COVID-19 guidelines, residents will have access to the on-site hydrotherapy pool and sensory room, plus communal bar and games room. Importantly for vulnerable families, staff are available 24/7 in case of emergency.
While the centre has welcomed hundreds of guests since lockdown restrictions were lifted, the Government’s ban on school visits in the autumn has hit revenue projections for the remainder of the year.
More than 95 per cent of primary schools offer at least one residential experience per year.
Two million young people took part in residential experiences both at home and abroad last year and the school travel sector contributes £700m annually to the economy.
In previous years, Calvert Lakes would expect 3,500 residents taking 12,500 bed nights, with the SEN sector equating to roughly 33 per cent of its visitors.
School groups tend to visit in term time and stay Monday through to Friday and therefore are compressed into 38 weeks of the year, with the centre usually full from the end of February through to mid-November.
Mr Farnan said: “Although not anticipating a blanket ban, we assumed that schools were very unlikely to come in the remainder of 2020 anyway, due to lost planning time and health risk concerns.
“While a major blow, we do have other types of visitors and we are able to adapt moving forward.”
Calvert Lakes will hope to attract the families and adults who already visit the centre in larger numbers due to spare capacity. The centre already attracts adult visitors from care homes and supported living complexes.
Mr Farnan added: “With us also reducing the size of our activity groups due to bubbles and social distancing, our ideal visitors are now groups of six to 12 people from one household. Care homes are perfect as they will be adults and carers who already live together.
“It is going to be a challenging period and we are more reliant than ever on the loyalty of our guests and the generosity of our supporters,” he added.
The Lake District Trust’s new brain injury rehabilitation centre, Calvert Reconnections, will also open next month after its original launch was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.