Talking coffee, Christmas, and winter in Cornwall with long-term friends and partners, Watergate Bay.
Getting into the Christmas spirit starts early for the hospitality industry—and for Watergate Bay hotel, it’s no different. The family business has been a part of Cornwall’s vibrant beach community for over 50 years, providing an idyllic spot for all to enjoy watching the waves. With a keen commitment to responsible tourism and protecting and championing the local environment, those who stay in one of the hotels 80 bedrooms are encouraged to embrace the elements all year round. While Cornwall is renowned for being a popular summer holiday destination, there’s a quieter magic that takes place in the county over the winter months—one that the hotel is keen to highlight and celebrate.
We sat down to chat with Watergate Bay’s Group Head of Sustainability and Engagement, Helen Bishop, and Group Events Manager, Laura Smith to talk about the importance of creating meaningful experiences through a thoughtful curation of events, workshops, and food and drink, and their plans to create a brilliant, community centred Christmas in Cornwall for guests and residents alike.
A HOME FROM HOME EXPERIENCE FOR CHRISTMAS
Nearly twenty years later, their ethos and values are aligned with ours as strongly as ever. “Coffee is such a big part of our brand experience, so getting the right partner was vitally important,” Helen agreed. “We’ve always had a great relationship with the team.” Relationships are key to the hotel, resulting in a vibrant community feel throughout the year that comes into special focus at Christmas.
“There’s naturally more attention focused on Cornwall during the summer months, which are always busy; we’ve worked hard on crafting an autumn, winter, and spring events calendar, building a year-round experience at Watergate that keeps the community spirit front and centre.” When it comes to planning for the seasons, talk of Christmas starts early, and dials up while most people are busy enjoying their summer holidays.
“We probably start talking about Christmas in January, while it’s still fresh in our minds!” said Laura. “Sometimes it really does feel like a year-round subject! From August, though, planning really gets underway—it’s always fun to be thinking about Christmas during a heatwave! The winter months do bring a quieter experience and offers some great opportunities for us to do something different for guests and the local community,” she added.
When it comes to a community experience at Christmas, the hotel becomes a place to feel right at home, embracing the quiet with meaningful moments.
“The festive season at the hotel feels like a house party,” Helen explained. “People drop their shoes at the front door and spend days in their pyjamas, a real home from home experience. But if guests do want to get out and about, we have plenty planned—from Santa surfs, fitness sessions, and festive dips—I’m sure some of the team may be persuaded to take the plunge too!
“I think whether you’re a guest or a team member, the festive season at Watergate Bay is all about making memories,” Helen added. “A lot of the team really enjoy working over the Christmas holidays—there’s a special atmosphere in the hotel. You can’t help but feel festive! The magic of the season is seeing the ideas come together, creating a memorable stay for our guests.
CELEBRATING SUSTAINABILITY WITH THE SEASON
Part of the hotel’s festive atmosphere comes from the care and attention to detail the team go to, to bring a touch of Christmas to the décor. Along with room and table gifts that the hotel’s customer service team put together with attention and care, and a gingerbread house collaboration by the chefs and the maintenance team, Watergate have focused on Christmas décor that speaks to community, relationships, and sustainability.
“The whole team at Watergate have worked hard on our Twelve Trees of Christmas campaign,” Helen explained. “The trees were given to the hotel’s suppliers, local partners, and internal teams to decorate. There are some great stories to tell, and we thought as well as making the trees look beautiful, we could use this as an opportunity to raise awareness on sustainability among our guests. You’ll find the trees dotted around the hotel as well as on the Sea Lane,” she added. “The trees include decorations made from ghost fishing gear, gathered by Beach Guardian; flowers and natural decorations grown organically, just seven miles from the hotel, by Emily Talling at 3 Acre Blooms; and creatively repurposed packaging and old tasting cards for baubles from Origin.”
WHAT’S ON THIS SEASON AT WATERGATE BAY
Decorations mark the starting point of the season at Watergate Bay. “Once the decorations are up, the season really kicks off,” Helen enthused. “Food and drink are a key part of fostering community spirit, and we have something for everyone.”
You can look forward to Curry Fridays at The Beach Hut, champagne tastings with Laurent-Perrier, a festive inspired cocktail list, and a tasting Christmas menu for the main Christmas days. Among the many highlights, the team are most excited about the opening of their ocean-view restaurant, Zacry’s.
The hotel teams have dreamt up a whole host of ways to soak up the festive spirit and celebrate with friends and family throughout December, starting with a womxn led shanty group, called Kana, who will launch their Festive Nights season on December 1st.
“We have some great live music performances under our ‘Snug sessions’ programme in our Living Space—although, if the weather is kind, some of the acts might be persuaded to do an impromptu performance on our beach,” Laura said.
From sea shanty bands to country duos, the music line up is sure to appeal to all. And if you’re looking for something a little different this season, the hotel’s range of creative workshops are sure to be a hit.
“We’ve been working with some incredibly talented artists to launch a series of festive-inspired workshops for guests and the local community,” Helen told us. From wreathmaking to calligraphy and mono-printing, there’s plenty to get you in a creative, Christmas mood, sharing experiences with friends and loved ones.
Away from home this Christmas? Make sure to order your coffee to take with you—or send it on to friends and family, for an exceptional seasonal experience.