Operators anticipate a World Cup and festive season double-header
THIS will be an unusual festive season for the Scottish trade, with the World Cup in Qatar coinciding with what will hopefully be a return to busy festive business.
And operators around Scotland told SLTN they are confident the combined tournament/festive season will be strong for hospitality.
Jamie Rodgers, general manager at MacGregor’s in Inverness, said he expects the World Cup, which starts on 20th November, to help boost Christmas trade.
He said they will be bringing in televisions specifically to show the games and that the bar will be staging events around the matches.
He is also looking forward to the day of the final (18th December).
“Being a week before Christmas means that many people will already have finished work for the year and will be looking for ways to celebrate, so having such a big sporting event on TV should lead to a busy full day of trade,” he said.
Rodgers said he expects that while the cost of living crisis could be keeping people at home during winter, he thinks that they will see a Christmas night out as something to look forward to.
He said: “That will make Christmas events with friends and colleagues all the more special.”
The Adamson in St Andrews is determined to be prepared for the festivities with a special festive menu at the printers in early September and two special cocktails created for the party season.
General manager Liam Carson told SLTN: “Each year we have two specific Christmas cocktails. One is always Champagne-based and this year’s is a black raspberry and rosemary Kir. The other is a chocolate creation.
“We work closely with our chef to pair these drinks with the festive food menu and our regular menu, including some desserts made to match drinks on our cocktail list.”
Carson said The Adamson is already taking enquiries and menu requests, and has bookings in the diary.
He said: “People are getting organised, and we have bookings for office groups and for lunches from different faculties at the university.”
Carson expects the World Cup to bring more people out from late November onwards; and with many overseas students in the town, he expects the trade in St Andrews to benefit.
He also sees the festivities carrying on beyond Christmas Day.
“Hogmanay is always a big night for us and we are already taking bookings for this year,” he said.
Overseas customers are already booking rooms for Christmas and New Year at the George Hotel in Inveraray.
General manager Claudio Poggi said: “People are realising they need to make the most of life after the lockdowns.
“They want to go out and enjoy themselves.”
That attitude has seen bookings filling up rapidly for the month of December at The George.
Christmas is already shaping up to be a success in the restaurant and this year’s festive menu has a real celebratory feel to it.
Poggi explained: “Our Christmas menu this year is a celebration of our chef Eric Lionnet who is leaving the hotel after 12 years.
“To mark the occasion, Eric has come up with a special menu drawn from his menus over those 12 years, including pervious Christmas menus.”
As well as new dishes, The George has been working on new drinks and has come up with a winter cocktails menu featuring several new drinks such as classics like the Grasshopper and twists on classics like the Maple Old Fashioned.
Poggi said guests are enthusiastically asking about the menu and enquiring about rooms.
To help the festive feel, The George will be switching its traditional lights on in mid-November and has two special Christmas celebration days planned for Saturdays 10th and 17th of December.
The cost of living crisis has made a difference at the hotel, but Poggi said it manifests itself in how people spend their money rather than how much they spend.
He said: “People are being more responsible.
“A lot more are coming for food and while they are only slightly reducing their spend, they are going for quality rather than quantity.
“For example, they might go for two quality beers rather than four or five of a standard beer.”
Looking past Christmas to New Year, The George already has accommodation bookings from returning international guests.
Poggi summed up: “People want to get back to enjoying Christmas as we used to.”