Hospitality venues already taking Christmas party bookings
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Hospitality firms across Suffolk are predicting a "phenomenally" busy Christmas party season and are already taking bookings.
After a muted Christmas season in 2020, hampered by social distancing restrictions and Suffolk being put into Tier 4 on Boxing Day, owners are hoping for a bumper festive season in 2021.
Bosses say that previous bookings have been carried over into the next year, and some report they are already taking large new bookings.
Paul Milsom, who runs Milsom Hotels & Restaurant chain in Suffolk and north Essex, said: "Christmas is a really important time for us.
"And we expect to be really busy this coming Christmas, assuming everything is back to normal and all the other caveats that we're now all so used to talking about.
"At Kesgrave Hall we've got our hangar which seats up to 300 people and we hope that we will have the record uptake.
"Lots of people obviously have moved their parties from one year to the next so bookings look really, really good at the moment."
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Mr Milsom said the chain would also stop offering Christmas parties at some of its venues.
"Like any downturn this has led us to look at what is working and what isn't," he said.
"From a point of view of Le Talbooth restaurant, where we traditionally had a mix of some party nights and some people having the normal a la carte menu, we're just going to go back to our normal a la carte restaurant trading."
Philip Turner, founder of the Chestnut Group of 12 pubs, inns and restaurants, said: "We've had new bookings, as well as bookings that have been rolled from last year to this year.
"And we've already seen the start of evidence of people actually extending out their Christmas periods to include November.
"If we are able to do what we should be doing it will be phenomenally busy. If we are unable to do that it will just be the same as last year.
"There's a lot of water that will go under the bridge between now and December," he added.