Small Business Profile: The Riverside Hotel

Brenda and David Milne took over Riverside Hotel in 2001

With a sound business plan and associated finance in place, David Milne and his wife Brenda took over Riverside Hotel at Ambleside in the Lake District back in January 2001.

“We knew there was a lot of work needed to build up the business," explains David, “although our financial projections were sensible and we were looking forward to the challenge.” But then, in February 2001, foot and mouth broke out.

When routes for walkers were closed, the visitor numbers dropped accordingly, which had a negative impact on revenue. “Our occupancy levels were only 40 per cent in that first year," he adds, “which was never going to translate into a profitable business.” Luckily David had done something very sensible - he had arranged a four-day-per-week IT role with a London-based firm that allowed him to work from home for much of the time.

It took the best part of five years for the husband and wife team to renovate the hotel, build up the business and to have sufficient confidence for David to become full time. Finally, in 2006, he said goodbye to frequent commuting days of 5am to 11pm.

“It took some time to adjust to the new life," admits the ex-mathematician and IT engineer, “but I am so pleased to have made the move.” And things have gone really well since then and Riverside now employs five other staff part-time and enjoys occupancy rates of 85-90 per cent.

Looking back over the last five years, David is convinced that the secret to achieving success has been attention to detail. “It's quite simple really”, he explains. “We just strive to create exactly the kind of hotel that Brenda and I would like to stay in ourselves.”

And that attention to detail hasn’t gone unnoticed. Trip Advisor has ranked The Riverside Hotel as the ninth best place in the world and the third best in Europe in its B&B and Inns category. “That kind of recommendation has brought us visitors from, quite literally, around the world," says David.

So it was five hard years to establish the business followed by five more years to build the reputation. But what about the next five years? “Riverside holds the key to our future as well”, says David, “since both the building and the business represent our pension fund and retirement nest-egg all rolled into one.” Undoubtedly a solid business model for these uncertain times.

Suggested Topics
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Client Services Executive / Account Executive - SW London

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Executive / Client Services ...

PA to CEO / Executive Secretary

£36000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Executive PA to CEO & Executive Dire...

Generalist HR Administrator, Tunbridge Wells, Kent - £28,000.

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Administrator - Tunbri...

Senior C# Developer (.NET, C#, JMS, TDD, Web API, MVC, integrat

£45000 - £75000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Senior C...

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis