An inspector enthralls - Cornwall life meets Anna Polizzi
PUBLISHED: 16:50 26 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:57 20 February 2013
TV's Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, came to Newquay recently on a mission to sort out yet another hotel in need of attention. But as Andy Cooper found when he caught up with her, this time Alex's challenge was a little different to the norm
TVs very own Hotel Inspector, Alex Polizzi, swept into Newquay recently on a mission to sort out yet another hotel in need of attention. But as Andy Cooper discovered when he caught up with her, this time Alexs challenge was a little different to the norm
When Alex Polizzi walks into a room it stays walked into. A whirling melange of throaty laugh, powerful stride and confident opinions, she dominates the room as she enters.
Here in Newquay to interview her as she sprinkles her magic on the Godolphin Arms Hotel, I lob a general question in her direction on the town and its approach to tourism and fifteen minutes later the smoke from this particular lit firework is only just fading.
Its absolute nonsense for people to say Newquay must ditch the stag nights and hen parties image, because thats what many businesses rely on, but there is so much MORE the town could do to attract visitors, she opines.
Just look at the natural environment around us and that has to be what we promote when we speak of Cornwall, she adds. This place has so much going for it and yet we seem to follow a very narrow path when it comes to tourism.
And when she speaks out on such topics she does so from a position of authority. Scion of the Forte family - her mother is the hotel designer Olga Polizzi, herself daughter of Lord Forte - and successful hotelier in her own right across the border in Devon at the renowned Endsleigh Hotel, Alex knows her onions from her shallots when it comes to putting visitor bums on seats.
Ive come down here on family holidays for years and when I was about 15 years old I had to be dragged here kicking and screaming
Thats what makes Channel 5s The Hotel Inspector such compelling viewing. Frankly, in some of the episodes the producers are to be congratulated for finding these hotels still open and attracting paying guests. A quick look at the traumas they inflict on paying customers and its a minor miracle that they are still around for Ms Polizzi to turn up and sprinkle her fairy dust.
Thats not the case with the Godolphin, thankfully. Safely stewarded by Margaret Muff Ashwood for more years than she cares to remember, the hotel faces a somewhat complicated problem it has plenty of customers, with bookings almost always full, but its the amount people are paying for their stay which perturbs Alex following her first inspection.
Muff is doing a lovely job here and the place is spotless, explains Alex, but shes charging an amazingly low price for people to stay here. Its great value for money for the visitors, but terrible for her. Shes hardly making a profit and is in hock to the coach companies who bring these visitors in but only at a certain level of price which is no good to Muff.
Its a tricky problem for Alex to crack, but again her solution seeks to make the most of the local advantages open to the hotel namely the range of family attractions available.
A plan is hatched to bundle visits to attractions with a stay at the hotel, price the B&B and dinner package a little more realistically and then trade on the fact that one price gets an all-in deal for hotel guests.
And while Muff, 71, initially takes some persuading that the plans will work, harbouring a natural fear that not filling all the beds might be deemed a failure, eventually she is won round.
I was fearful at first, she explains as she is quizzed on camera by an intrepid bunch of journalists, including your own correspondent. But Alex has showed me how it can work and I have been delighted with the feedback weve had so far.
There is a natural and easy affection between Muff and Alex as the filming for the programme comes to its conclusions and its clear that, like most things in life it appears, Alex throws herself wholesale into these TV projects and is not just a face who appears on camera and then slinks back to a waiting Winnebago.
Ive had a fantastic time on this series. There have been some real challenges but visits like this to Muffs place and to see her and her extended family embracing it and making changes is very inspirational. Its lovely to be back in Cornwall filming too.
The county will always hold a special affection for Alex, given the familys links, although that was not always the case.
Ive came down here on family holidays for years and of course when I was about 15 years old I had to be dragged here kicking and screaming, but that was just teenage grumpiness, she laughs. Over the years I have come to appreciate the county so much and it is absolutely beautiful and always draws me back.
Its a special place and we must, must, must make the most of the beautiful environment around us. Just take a walk ten minutes out of Newquay and you are in the most incredible countryside.
There is so much for us to promote to people coming down here. I get very worked up and passionate about what we have to offer, not only in Cornwall, but in this country as a whole. But everyone has to step up a gear to beat the competition.
And with that last opinion trailing in her wake she is gone, off to see how the guinea pig visitors are getting on at the barbecue specially prepared for them. And as she quizzes anyone else in earshot who might want an opinion on how the day is going, it appears its not only the sausages which are in for a grilling.
For more on Anna's time at Godolphin go to: