BOSSES at a hotel operator in Bury are preparing to welcome back guests for the first time in three months.

But management at the Lavender Hotels Group, which runs The Stables Country Club in Bury and the Old Mill at Ramsbottom, admit it has been tough since March.

In the immediate future, they are predicting a downturn in business customers - but are hopeful leisure breaks will take off among the holiday-starved general public.

Sarah Sikorski, the group's owner, said: "To say it’s been a rough three months would be an understatement.

"The hospitality industry above all other has been the worst hit, we were one of the first to close and will be one of the last allowed to resume operations.

"Although we have had some assistance from the government and even with low daily operational running costs while closed, the overheads of running a hotel are immense.”

Plans are in place for a phased reopening at their sites, which also include the Higher Trapp at Simonstone, and The Oaks, in Reedley, both near Burnley, and the Everglades, near Widnes.

Sarah added: "It’s our belief that with everything that’s gone on and although people will be desperate to get away, they will only feel comfortable under certain conditions.

"Firstly I don’t think people will be heading to crowded city centres, they will want cleaning/hygiene procedure reassurance and perhaps looking for a good deal.

"We are extremely lucky that our hotels are located in the countryside with an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy whole still being able to observe social distancing.

"We have also put in place a very robust hygiene and social distancing policy so staying guests can be reassure they will be safe staying at any Lavender Hotel."

The four hotels are all run under the Best Western brand and the company itself has been trading for more than 50 years, with a 500-plus workforce.