Discovering a Hidden Gem: Owner of The Grove discusses national award success
One of Cromer's best-loved establishments has been awarded a national prize in the "hidden gem" category.
Following his businesses’ success at the Eviivo awards, The Grove owner Richard Graveling discusses how not only his B&B, but his home town, should be proud to be a tourist secret.
“I think at The Grove we’re a microcosm of Cromer itself,” said Mr Graveling, who was born and raised in the seaside town.
“The idea of being a hidden gem we see as something to celebrate. People find us because they discover us, they have that sense of adventure.”
Mr Graveling, who owns his old family home alongside his four siblings, continued: “We’re good on social media, we have a good facebook page; we could put all the publicity in the world out there.
“Tourism is such a fundamental part of Cromer, the town would disintergrate without it, but we don’t want to shout too much about what we do because after a point it’s for the tourists to find us.”
Mr Graveling, 44, continued: “And I think Cromer is the same. We’re not a neon-lights town that shouts about everything we do, people come here because they want to discover the area.
“We’ve been talking for years about Cromer being on the cusp of becoming something different, but I think we’ll find our own way there and in a way which works for us.
“We’ll never be a quaint little seaside town or a really cosmopolitan one, I’d like to see a bar for younger people in the very centre of town, but there’s an economic reason for why there isn’t.”
The Grove on Overstrand Road has been in Mr Graveling’s family for generations, after his grandparents bought it as a family home in 1936.
“The tourism industry itself is definitely changing,” Mr Graveling confirmed.
“In the summer months people want to come to Cromer, they look for a place to stay, and discover we have a restaurant. This flips almost to the day after half term ends.
“People from Norwich or maybe Suffolk look for a nice meal to have at the weekend, and then realise they can stay here overnight and make it into a weekend stay. From there they have a walk along the beach or a look in the shops, and they discover Cromer in almost the opposite way.”
The bed and breakfast faces the same challenges as all hotels, in that they are quieter in the winter months.
“We’re booked out pretty much every Saturday of the year now. We made a loss the first few years we opened in the winter but we’re bringing it back now.”
Mr Graveling and his brother Chris, who predominantly run the operation, have been in charge of the business for six years.
“Our biggest challenge is the off-peak season, but we didn’t know how to run a restaurant when it opened and now we’ve got a two rosette one, so we’ll continue to work on it,” he said.
The business is also supported by sister Ruth, who runs a glamping operation on a portion of The Grove’s site.
“We grew up here when it was an operating B and B, so we were always used to having people to talk to and guests in the house. My father was born in the living room here, so we’ve all literally grown up in this industry,” Mr Graveling continued.
“One of the things the judges commented on when they came to stay was the marmalade, and how wonderful it was. That was lovely, because my mum still makes the marmalade we serve, so it was an award for all of us.”