A LUXURY bed and breafast which was opened by the man behind the Phileas Fogg snack company is celebrating being awarded two major industry accolades.
Keith Gill and his wife Pauline opened The Old Post Office less than a year ago after deciding they wanted to take step back from full-time working without retiring completely.
The couple took the decision to convert their spacious home in Lanchester, County Durham, into a high-end bed and breakfast, offering guests luxury accommodation and breakfast made from fresh local produce.
Now, three months before it reaches its one-year anniversary, The Old Post Office finds itself in the company of the likes of Bistro 21 and Headlam Hall by being named Highest Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion at the Durham Taste Awards. It was the highest award up for grabs and recognised its commitment to sourcing suppliers within a 10-mile radius.
It comes after the bed and breakfast, which has three Post Office themed en-suite bedrooms for guests to choose from, was awarded a Gold 4 Star rating with the AA. On top of this it is achieving near perfect ratings on Trip Advisor and Booking.com.
Keith Gill, who co-founded the Phileas Fogg brand in 1982 and sold it for more than £27m in 1993, said: “Converting our house into a bed and breakfast was for us the perfect solution as we both wanted to work less but didn’t necessarily want to retire.
“Pauline works as an English and Drama teacher at a school in Sunderland and really it was getting too much for her, so the plan was to build the bed and breakfast up so she could retire next year. However, the response has been so good that she’s now able to retire in the summer and run The Old Post Office with me.
“We’ve always loved travelling and are particularly passionate about using only fresh local produce, so the move into hospitality was a natural step. It means our work/life balance is much better and we’re doing something we love, together.”
Keith and Pauline themed each of their rooms around stamps – the Penny Black, the Penny Red and the Two Pence Blue, all of which are decorated to give an English country cottage feel.
They source all breakfast produce from individual suppliers and companies located within the surrounding villages, while their sausages come from the butcher next door.
But Keith, who also founded two food companies, Derwent Valley Foods and The Tanfield Food Company from greenfield start-ups, as well as created the Look What We Found brand, has admitted the early success of The Old Post office has taken them both by surprise.
The 63-year-old, who still works as a food consultant to companies around the world, added: “When we opened the bed and breakfast of course we hoped it would do well. But neither of us thought it would be doing quite so well so quickly.
“The feedback from guests has been superb and we’re now the recipient of a Gold AA Rosette and the Highest Quality Assured and Local Produce Champion accolade at the Durham Food Awards which is fantastic. We beat off competition from places which have been established much longer than we have and that’s testament to the hard work we’ve put in, the attention to detail evident in every room and our commitment to sourcing fresh, local produce.
“The fact that Pauline is now able to retire a year sooner than we’d planned is the icing on the cake.”
For more information visit theoldpostofficelanchester.com