Potters Resorts, a family-owned business based in Norfolk, was a double winner at the East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022.

The company, which runs the UK’s only all-inclusive holiday resorts in Hopton-on-Sea in Norfolk and Maldon in Essex, picked up the Customer Excellence Award, sponsored by Swiss Camplings, and the Resilience and Innovation Award, sponsored by Howes Percival.

The Resilience and Innovation Award was given to Potters in recognition of its response to the pandemic – which forced the business to close its Hopton-on-Sea resort in March 2020, two months before its 100-year anniversary.

“Our tagline ‘Quality Time Together’ is possibly the most awkward tagline with which to face a global pandemic,” said John Potter, managing director of Potters Resorts. “But rather than throw our hands in the air and give up, we fought through the pandemic and did some frankly miraculous pivots – both online and on the resort – to entertain our guests and make them happy.

“To come out of that and win the Innovation and Resilience Award for the entire East of England means a hell of a lot to myself and the team.”

During the first lockdown, Potters held a 12-hour online concert for its 150,000 Facebook followers – raising £25,000 for James Paget University Hospital and Norfolk Accident Rescue Service (NARS).

It also transformed 50 hotel rooms into private dining suites with balconies overlooking a new South Terrace with an outdoor theatre stage – streaming every performance into the rooms and onto giant screens around the resort.

These changes meant the resort could re-open safely to guests in the summer – and in line with Covid restrictions at the time. “It followed the rules in terms of being able to separate every party,” John explained. “People were able to come in their households and their bubbles, and then watch the performances from the balconies or their rooms.”

At the same time, Potters built a second indoor theatre space to accommodate social distancing and overhauled its business model – turning its Hopton resort into the UK’s first all-inclusive holiday resort.

“We were always very inclusive – we included all the sports, the leisure, the entertainment and the food,” said John. “Everything on the resort was free except the drinks, and we went the whole hog as we came out of lockdown.”

John added that the move to all-inclusive makes Potters an attractive option in the current cost-of-living crisis. “When you come to Potters, you know how much your holiday is going to cost because you pay for it in advance,” he said, “and then you don't have to put your hand in your pocket at all.”

It also aligns with Potters’ customer-first approach, which saw it win the Customer Excellence Award at the East of England Tourism Awards.

“We do treat people as our friends and family, and when you invite friends and family into your home, you want them to have a good time,” said John. “You don't charge them for the food, drink or entertainment.”

Last month, Potters opened Five Lakes Resort in Maldon, Essex – a 320-acre site encompassing a championship golf course, spa, three restaurants, bars, theatres, and 200 guest rooms and suites.

The company spent “tens of millions” – and just three and half months – renovating the former hotel, golf course and spa into the UK’s second all-inclusive holiday resort. “To get it open on May 2 and receive such high praise for the end product has been nothing short of a miracle,” said John.

With further developments planned at both resorts, Potters isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

“We reinvest, reinvest and reinvest,” said John. “Our customers tell us what they want, and we build it for them. And it's a winning formula.”

For more information, visit PottersResorts.com

Archant organise and host the annual East of England Tourism Awards to recognise and celebrate those businesses and individuals that contribute to the regional visitor economy. To register for more information on the 2022/23 competition please visit https://www.tourismawards.co.uk/live/en/page/contact-us