Suggestions for unforgettable summer staycations right here in Northern Ireland
With your safety in mind, our award-winning hospitality providers are ready and waiting to welcome you
People are being encouraged to enjoy summer safely by exploring destinations closer to home. Taking a holiday here offers people the chance to uncover some stunning scenery, wonderful attractions and superb accommodation without having to jump on a plane. Here, we take a look at the type of places you can stay, the rules you need to follow and how to enjoy a great staycation.
Take a trip with confidence
Northern Ireland’s colourful countryside, breathtaking beaches and glorious gardens are ready to welcome visitors this summer. Many locations are reopening, but have restricted visitor numbers and pre-booked time slots, so we recommend looking at the official websites for attractions and organisations before you travel, so that you’re in the know before you go.
The national tourist organisations of Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England have launched a UK-wide industry standard and ‘We’re Good to Go’ mark. The mark means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective government and public health guidance, ensuring they can welcome visitors back with confidence.
Do remember that Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England have different guidelines, advice and timescales for reopening tourism. Please respect government guidance on social distancing and also any regional lockdown measures that are provided by the respective nation.
Summer is here and we are beginning to reopen, providing everyone with the opportunity to start dreaming about a holiday. And this year a staycation could give you some much needed rest and recuperation, while also helping get the holiday industry back up and running.
Hotels, campsites, bed and breakfast accommodation and other places to stay are now opening if they can follow the guidelines relevant to their locality to ensure that their guests will be safe to stay and spend days wandering our award-winning coastlines, exploring our green spaces and getting inspired in our cities. Each accommodation provider is unique and those that have reopened have had to adapt depending on the nature of their business, including the size and type of accommodation. But these changes mean it is safe for visitors to come and enjoy a change of scenery. But even when we are away from home, we still need to follow the guidelines.
Speaking earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “As lockdown eases, we should focus on supporting the livelihoods of business owners and their employees up and down the country – all of whom are opening their doors for the first time in more than three months.
“They are our local restaurants, hairdressers, libraries, museums, cinemas, and yes, pubs. They are also hotels, B&Bs, indeed much of our tourism industry.
“All these businesses and their workers have put in a heroic effort to prepare their venues for this reopening, to work out a way to trade in a way that keeps their customers safe.
“But the success of these businesses, the livelihoods of those who rely on them, and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly. We must not let them down.”
Mr Johnson emphasised that even if we are now allowed to spend nights away from our own homes, we must still follow social distancing rules.
When out and about, we need to remember to look after ourselves, one another and the environment around us. To make sure we’re all doing our bit to travel responsibly, just follow a few simple steps.
- When planning your trip, check that important facilities like toilets and car parks are open before you travel.
- If you have an attraction in mind, check online to see if you need to pre-book.
- Some places may be extremely popular, so get off the beaten track and discover a hidden gem.
- Stay socially distanced apart from anyone outside your household while walking, running, cycling, sitting and sunbathing. Wear your face covering at all times when on public transport.
- Make sure you have a bank card; many outlets are currently only accepting cashless payments. Take hand sanitiser with you. Leave the car behind where possible and visit nearby attractions by walking, cycling or public transport.
LUXURY STAY: Beannchor Group managing director Bill Wolsey at the Merchant Hotel
Relax in five-star luxury
Social distancing measures aren’t the only change visitors are experiencing at Belfast’s five-star Merchant Hotel. The hotel has used lockdown time to complete its £750,000 investment of the Great Room Restaurant and Cocktail Bar. The management team is confident that customers will benefit from, but not be inconvenienced by, the Covid-19 compliant changes it has also made.
The Great Room has been reimagined to create a standalone restaurant and the Cocktail Bar has also benefited from significant refurbishment. Other venues within the Beannchor Group portfolio have also opened their doors.
Beannchor Group managing director Bill Wolsey said: “We’re aware that customers and guests may be curious about the experience that awaits them and, while there are measures in place that follow the scientific guidelines and industry best practice to ensure the safety of our staff and customers at all times, we have striven to minimise the impact to the overall experience at all our venues.”
Camping perfect for keeping distance
Cool Camping is a curated website of small, independently-run camping and glamping sites across Wales and beyond.
Marketing manager James Warner Smith said: “Having campfires, spreading yourself out, being able to chat with the owner of the business who’ll be able to recommend a local pub – they’re all big parts of the appeal of camping.
“You’re much more likely to be pitching your tent among shrubs and long grass with a lot of space between you and your neighbours.” The company has been working closely with campsites in Wales to ensure safety guidelines are met. At the moment, only self-contained accommodation can open, so the website only allows those types of sites to be booked.
They’ve introduced a new feature on the website where each business can indicate what new safety measures they’ve put in place.
Among the most popular places among potential visitors is Pembrokeshire, with secluded spots outside of national parks all proving popular.
Wales is open for camping from 25 July.
Courtesy of Cool Camping
Extra measures in place so you can embark on lakeside holiday
Heidi and Stuart Cordner have reopened their self-catering property on the shores of Loch Lomond and their family-run passenger cruise business, Cruise Loch Lomond.
The 10-person rental property is set in self-contained grounds on the shore of the lake, and the Cordners hope guests will contribute to the local economy while being respectful.
They have implemented virus prevention measures in both the property and on the boats, including increased cleaning and social distancing procedures.
They have also invested in additional cleaning equipment and training for cleaning staff.
Passengers are asked to wear face coverings and book in advance, and capacity has been reduced to allow for social distancing.
“We live in a small community but we’re fortunate that there’s a lot of space and our main business is an outdoor activity,” said Mr Cordner.
“There are a lot of positive health implications of being outside and on the water.”
LOCH LOMOND: Heidi and Stuart Cordner have reopened self-catering properties and cruises