Whilst many in the hotel and hospitality industry have grappled with the challenge of converting their facilities to accommodate complex social distancing requirements, Cornwall’s St Moritz Hotel & Spa employed the ultimate in coastal blue-sky thinking and opened the UK’s first purpose-designed and built ‘socially distanced’ hotel restaurant.

The brainchild of founders Hugh and Steve Ridgway, and the St Moritz Director of Restaurants Jonathan Domé, this new summer restaurant has not only surpassed the expected Government requirements on safe and socially distanced dining, it has optimised them at every turn, providing a new and exclusive private dining experience for individuals, couples and groups at St Moritz Hotel & Spa.

Nicknamed ‘The Anti-Social Club’, the new dining concept consists of 16 private dining rooms, with a maximum of 96 covers. The summer pop-up restaurant has been specifically designed to ensure that the individual dining rooms are all accessed from outside, with the service function being provided from a central atrium, and all food and drink being delivered to the private dining rooms via a set of hatches. This clever design, and the complementary operational procedures, mean that the St Moritz service team don’t need to go into the dining rooms, and the individual, staggered dining times mean that guests won’t run into each other. The innovative set-up also means that each and every room can be completely cleared and appropriately cleaned, then re-set-up, to meet all requirements, between each dining party.

St Moritz Director of Restaurants Jonathan Domé will drive menus that pay tribute to the incredible Cornish food suppliers and producers, all enjoyed in a relaxed, sharing style of service. St Moritz Hotel & Spa employs at least 65 staff year round, and the Anti-Social Club will require a team of at least 20 to run across the high season, providing vital local jobs and economic benefits.

Co-owner Hugh Ridgway says: “COVID-19 has stopped the industry in its tracks. Like all hotels, bars and restaurants across the globe, the virus has hit our business like an unbelievable sledgehammer. However, as ever, we have dusted ourselves off, and risen to this unpredictable challenge in our own creative, St Moritz way.”

When the team opened the doors to The Anti-Social Club the demand for bookings was so strong, and so immediate, that the creative team behind the hotel have also reworked plans to enable breakfasting in sea-facing, classically cute British beach huts that come as an accompaniment to the hotel’s King rooms.

The huts, which overlook the Camel estuary towards Steppa Point and the Atlantic beyond, are classic English seaside in style, with bunting, tables and chairs, and all are individually named. Guests within the King rooms are be able to pre-book an allocated time slot for their already laid-out breakfast beach hut, and be able to choose from three specially designed breakfast sharing platters which will sport a combination of a vegetarian Club Continental Breakfast, a Full Cornish Breakfast or a Vegan ¾ Full Cornish Breakfast. Guests naturally have the option to upgrade any breakfast options to a special Cornish ‘champagne’ option that includes a bottle of Camel Valley’s sparkling wine, from the nearby, celebrated vineyard.

Together ‘Breakfast at the Beach Huts’, The Anti-Social Club and socially distanced accessible dining have ushered in a new ‘bubble’ dining ethos as an exclusive holiday opportunity for all guests staying at the hotel across their ‘Summer of Social Distancing.’

CO–FOUNDER AND CO-OWNER OF ST MORITZ HOTEL & SPA, HUGH RIDGWAY, SAYS: “We’ve had to soar to our optimum heights of creative thinking to create The Anti-Social Club, an experience we’re proud to have dreamt-up as an ‘antidote to the C-Word’, whilst surpassing all required standards and processes on social distancing. And given the excited reaction to our summer restaurant, we’re now delighted to also offer breakfasts, as well as casual dining and drinking opportunities, in our brilliant little beach huts to guests booked into our King rooms. Safe doesn’t have to mean boring and we’re finding every way to keep an appropriate sense of humour around all of our new options, as well as delivering yet another first in the UK market.”