Northumberland B&B owners reveal the secret of their success amid cost-of-living crisis

Steve and Amanda White.Steve and Amanda White.
Steve and Amanda White.
The owners of an award-winning guest house have revealed how they have risen to the challenges faced by the hospitality sector.

Amanda and Steve White have run the Market Cross in Belford since 2012, winning both the AA Guest Accommodation of the Year for England award and gold in the North East England Tourism Awards in 2023.

The pair purchased the property with support from The Cumberland Building Society but it has not been an easy journey to success, especially on the back of the Covid pandemic and amid the cost-of-living crisis.

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“We’ve been very lucky, especially with the pandemic which really affected the hospitality and tourism sector,” said Amanda. “Two nearby B&Bs unfortunately had to close for good which shows just how hard the area was hit, so we are incredibly grateful for the support we received during that time.”

The Market Cross in Belford.The Market Cross in Belford.
The Market Cross in Belford.

During the Covid lockdowns, the pair were granted a six-month mortgage break and then were reintroduced onto an interest-only tariff to help alleviate the impact of the loss of earnings.

They have since switched back to their normal repayment scheme but noted that their relationship manager at The Cumberland, Graeme Rayson, is always on hand for support.

Amanda credits the success of their business as being down to the pair’s ability to adapt to changing situations.

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“We had a very successful business before lockdown, but the way of the world had completely changed when we were able to reopen our doors. We knew that we had to recoup the losses incurred through being closed for months on end and so we adapted in any way we could to survive.

A suntrap in the back garden.A suntrap in the back garden.
A suntrap in the back garden.

“We faced some staffing issues, but we knew we wanted to continue to deliver an outstanding hospitality business which Belford and the North East could be proud of, so we adapted and took on jobs such as cleaning roles ourselves.

“Coming out of lockdown, we saw that nearby restaurants had reduced capacity and were under pressure to cater for those who were visiting the area. So, we introduced evening meals to provide another option for our guests.” Amanda, who is a trained chef, said.

“This offering proved really popular for those who stay with us and is something we’ve kept to this day. With everything down to the granola and baked beans being homemade, this is something which has really resonated with guests.

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“Since we began our journey at Market Cross, The Cumberland has been hugely supportive throughout, especially in the past few years as we have had to look at ways to pivot to maintain our standards and keep us front of mind for visitors.”

Graeme Rayson, commercial customer support manager at The Cumberland said: “It’s clear to see that Amanda and Steve are devoted to their business and ensuring that every guest that walks through their doors has a memorable experience.

"The countless awards, returning custom and five-star reviews speak for themselves. Market Cross is a longstanding success story in the North East and it’s fantastic to see the pair go from strength to strength.”

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