“Gwesty Seren is a subsidiary of the Seren Ffestiniog Cyf charity group. The group was established 21 years ago to support people with a learning disability to live independently, work, socialise and integrate into the local community. It also organises holidays but found that many of the hotels that were claiming to be fully-accessible weren’t.
“The group wanted to design a hotel that could properly cater to people with a disability. With the help of grants and two Charity Bank loans, we were able to purchase a former care home and completely renovate it. Gwesty Seren (which means Hotel Star in Welsh) opened in April 2014 as a 3-star, 10-bedroom hotel and restaurant.
“There are lifts, spacious rooms and bathrooms, wide corridors, hearing loops and other features that make it easier for people with a disability to enjoy a relaxing holiday. There’s also an understanding and supportive atmosphere that can be difficult to find in other hotels. Along with hotel accommodation and a fully-accessible restaurant, we offer a bi-weekly social club for people with a learning disability. Up to 60 people come along to enjoy karaoke, bingo, a disco and the chance to socialise.”
“The hotel intake has steadily increased since opening. We had 82% occupancy in July 2018 and are aiming for 100% occupancy in peak season. We have, on average, 4,000 people staying with us each year now and many more eating at the restaurant. We’re also exploring new avenues for building our revenue base to ensure long-term sustainability and maximise our impact on both the local and wider communities.
“As a social enterprise, we would have struggled to get the funding we needed from a high-street bank, even though it wasn’t a risky project. Thankfully, Charity Bank understand charities and social enterprises. They listened to us and we’ve had a good relationship with them from day one. As with any new business, the first couple of years were quite hard for us, but Charity Bank team were very supportive. It was important to us to have a real person we could talk to and Charity Bank gave us that. If we ever needed another loan, they’d be our first port-of-call.”
Gwesty Seren Hotel is just one of 38 Follow the Money visits. Explore further Follow the Money visits and see how Charity Bank savers' money is used for good.
See the previous Follow the Money visit – On The Brink, and our next visit - Baltic Creative CIC.