Southport is packed with loads of great businesses, many of which are small, family-run enterprises. We’d like to introduce you to some of the people who help make a visit to Southport truly special.

This week we’re chatting with Jane and Andy, who run The Bowden Lodge Guest House.

Tell us a bit about yourself

We are a family of three who moved up from West Sussex in 2016 to start a new life in Southport running The Bowden Lodge Guest House. Andy's background is commercial horticulture and he spent 28 years 'growing' for the garden centre trade, followed by six years in horticultural sales selling to growers. Andy loves his plants and since being at The Bowden Lodge we've been awarded 'Gold' by 'Britain in Bloom'. Jane spent 23 years working in Financial Management for the NHS and that experience has proved invaluable now that we’re running our own business. 

When our daughter was only six months old we took a holiday in the south of France and stayed in an idyllic little hotel with a sea view. During our stay Andy had the mad idea that we could run the hotel ourselves! He was all for buying the property regardless of the fact that it wasn't on the market; the realisation that we couldn't have afforded it even if it had been up for sale, and the small matter or neither of us speaking French, didn’t stop it from seeming like a good idea in Andy's world!

Despite the drawbacks to this plan, it did cause us to re-evaluate things and we soon came to the conclusion that we needed a change from the jobs we had been doing for such a long time. We began a three-year journey looking for the right place and finally settled on Southport, having fallen in love with the town during our first visit in November 2015. 

sitting room with sofa and armchair. Blue carpet and red walls

What do you love most about what you do? 

We love our guests most of all.  We love providing a warm welcome and our aim is that our guests will want to return again and again - indeed many of them do. We love Southport! We love the friendly local people and have made fantastic friends in the short time we have been here. 

What was your average day like pre-COVID? 

Busy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way! It’s always an early start to provide a freshly home cooked breakfast for our guests, after which Andy is on 'clearing up' duty in the dining room and kitchen whilst Jane works with the housekeeper to service the rooms.  There's always plenty to do, and once everywhere is clean and tidy Andy usually throws himself into some maintenance job or another. Jane loves baking and many an afternoon is spent whipping up some delicious goodies for our guests to enjoy. If you add laundry, social media, and business admin to all of this you’ll see that we’re never bored! We both thought we worked hard in our previous jobs but this is totally different from the 9-5 we had before. Running a B&B is certainly a lifestyle choice, but one we’re so pleased we made.

table set for two next to a window, with cooked breakfast and toast with scrambled eggs

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever had left behind in a room?

We’re still quite new to running a guest house so thankfully nothing too unusual has turned up! It’s often things like socks, shirts, tops, shoes, books etc.

What changes have you made to your business to be ready for reopening? 

We have always prided ourselves on offering a clean and comfortable stay, and cleanliness has become even more important since the pandemic. We put in enormous effort to sanitise our rooms during a guest’s stay, and especially after departure and before welcoming new guests. Our 'check in' and 'check out' procedures have been updated to make it as contactless as possible, hand sanitisers have been set up around the property, and all staff wear visors or face masks in guest areas. We’re registered with Visit Britain’s ‘We’re Good To Go’ as well as ‘AA COVID Confident’. These schemes give visitors the confidence to book knowing that we’re doing everything we can to help keep them safe.

We know some people are desperate for a break but may not feel comfortable with eating out every night so we now offer two course evening meals (including a glass of wine!), as well as introducing packed lunch bags for the same reasons. The packed lunches are also a great option for guests who want to set off on a lovely long walk along the coastal path. Breakfast and evening meals can even be delivered to the rooms.

Whilst there have been some extra things that we’ve needed to introduce, we have a policy of continuous improvement and so have been doing lots of decorating in the guest areas. We can’t wait to welcome back guests old and new – it looks lovely, even if we do say so ourselves!

large bedroom with red patterned wallpaper and three beds

In addition to all of this, we do have an exciting new project up our sleeves. We have been very fortunate to have secured a 'kickstart tourism grant' to erect a glasshouse in our back garden, with the idea that we use Andy's horticultural knowledge to offer residential gardening courses for keen and 'would be' gardeners. Andy is currently working hard on creating course material and we look forward to being able to share more about this new venture very soon.

What do you love most about Southport? 

We love the fact that Southport has so many large, open, airy spaces! We have 22 miles of coastline you can stroll along or build sandcastles on, and there are some great routes for ramblers and cyclists. There are so many parks to wander around too, including Victoria Park, Kings Gardens, Hesketh Park and The Botanic Gardens.  The main street, Lord Street, is three times wider than a normal high street so even on the busiest of days you still feel like you have space. Southport has something to offer everyone from singles, couples and families. With its Victorian architecture and feel it’s a unique place and something to be shouted about. But the most important thing for us - being Southerners who have moved up North – is that Southport is full of the most friendly people we have every met.

Bowden Lodge Guest House, 18 Albert Road, Southport PR9 0LE

01704 543 531 / enquiries@bowdenlodge.co.uk

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