We’re always excited to welcome new faces to our ESL Membership, especially when they’re celebrating a shiny new accolade too. Meet the new owners of Somerville House, Hereford City’s award-winning Guest House and discover why they chose this special property for a new life in the Shire.
When Sheila Cadd and Steve Wild dreamed of changing their northern lives and taking on a hospitality business, they wanted to do it with their eyes wide open.
The former Community Nurse and Electronics Engineer from Greater Manchester took their life-changing move into tourism very seriously and, after five long years of searching, Somerville House in Hereford City ticked all their well-considered boxes.
‘We were looking for somewhere that could be a home for us as well as a good quality business, where Steve could indulge his interests in cooking and gardening, and I could continue to look after people … but of course in a less medical way’ smiles Sheila.
It is clear that they both enjoy meeting and hosting people and were certainly in at the deep end on their arrival to a very busy venue at the beginning of the 2018 tourism season. But, having already sensibly invested in several professional courses in hospitality and hotel management, they weren’t taken in with a view through rose tinted glasses, agreeing that ‘Everyday is different and we enjoy the challenges’.
5 Star rating
‘We knew about and continue to enjoy the hard work that it needs to maintain the high standards that Somerville House has achieved, and the previous owners of 10 years, Rosie and Bill, have been so helpful. We are still in touch with them’ said Sheila.
The new couple’s commitment has been rewarded with the excellent news that the business’s AA 5 Star rating has be retained for the coming year, along with a 5 Star food hygiene rating.
‘We knew someone would be coming at some point, but had no idea who the inspector was until he checked out. We have lots of independent business travellers, so it wasn’t unusual to receive a man on his own’ explained the couple.
He commended their welcome and customer service in showing him different rooms for choice and the room standards, directing him to local information, and the choice of local products in the mini-bar and breakfast.
‘Of course, we couldn’t have done it without the wonderful team we have here too. We have a mix of original and new staff and we are so grateful for their continued support’ acknowledged Sheila.
A summer of challenges
Having had a full on summer season, Hereford City gave its only 5 Star Guest House plenty of occupancy with the hosting of the 1418NOW Poppies art installation and the Three Choirs Festival, and put all the couple’s new found skills to the test.
Having operated under a paper system for decades, Sheila and Steve have now implemented a computerised hotel management system and started to update the technology in the rooms. With the useful support of their son’s IT skills, they have a new website and online processes too.
‘We have been surprised by the volumes of last minute bookings coming through; perhaps a sign of the current uncertain economic climate. It’s about understanding what people want from us and giving an individual service. Our visitors are here for so many different reasons. I can usually read if someone wants to be left alone or if they welcome more engagement and information for their stay’ said Sheila.
Steve thoroughly enjoys cooking breakfasts to order, happy to include special requests like pancakes, or international fayre, and serving drinks in the garden or the lounge if required. ‘If residents would like to bring a takeaway into the dining room in the evening then that’s no problem, we’re happy to be flexible and accommodating to help them have a relaxed stay’ he said.
The breakfast room also transforms into a useful meeting space for up to 10 people after service, proving a welcome facility for business travelers who’d like a meeting.
Calling Herefordshire History buffs
Catering mainly for couples and business travellers, Steve and Sheila are embracing Somerville’s history not only in hospitality, but also its intriguing past. Having learned that it was once a Victorian Gentleman’s residence and then a maternity hospital, they are keen to discover its deeper background.
So if anyone has photographs or any original information on Somerville House at Bodenham Road in Hereford, they’d be delighted to hear from you.
We’re delighted that this stalwart of Hereford City accommodation remains in good hands and are sure that you will join us in welcoming Sheila and Steve to Herefordshire and cheering them in our congratulations and continued success.