Scottish hotel to install 'eden project' style domes for alfresco dining - here's how it'll work

As plans to reopen the hospitality industry in Scotland take shape, one hotel has unveiled how it'll ensure social distancing between dinner guests.

Published 10th Jun 2020
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

A Scottish hotel has unveiled plans to reopen its outdoor space – with transparent domes and a 20 metre marquee.

A 20-metre open-sided marquee and transparent igloos style domes form part of the plan for the reopening of the outdoor areas of The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen.

The hotel has planned an alfresco dining offering, which will open in line with Scottish Government advice.

A 20 metre open-sided marquee with a transparent roof will be erected over the car park area in front of 55 - 57 Queen's Road in the city – subject to planning permission – to complement the existing covered outdoor seating area.

This marquee space, along with the canopied patio, will give, with appropriate social distancing, space for around 100 guests.

In addition, there will be two ‘Eden Project style' transparent domes, in which guests can dine.

These vented ‘igloos' will be constructed at the front of the hotel and customers will be able to pre-book the structures for small groups of up to eight to meet and dine in.

Graham Wood, owner of the 71 room hotel says, "It's important for us that, as well as keeping our staff and customers safe, we provide everyone with The Chester experience.

“After such a long period of lockdown, where treats, and socialising have been in short supply, we think people will want to feel a little normality and have the choice to go somewhere of their choice.

"Our team which has been working throughout the lockdown to protect and deep clean the hotel has also augmented the planting at the front of the hotel and we have hurricane lamps and open fire effect patio heaters.

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"Although we have a large area of our outdoor seating area already under canopies, the addition of this 20 metre marquee will give us one of Aberdeen city's largest outdoor spaces.

"We'll be serving a comprehensive selection from our full bar food menu and everything from our drinks' menu. If we're going to do something at The Chester we always do it properly and in style."

How reopening will work

The hotel has also put in place comprehensive measures to ensure staff and guest safety with the purchase of an electrostatic fogging machine to sanitise all areas and free standing, automatic hand sanitising units.

There will be one way systems in the outside areas for guests and staff, and also behind the scenes for all waiting and kitchen staff.

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All tables will have to be pre-booked online and customers can only be admitted if they have a reservation.

The reservations will be in two-hour blocks. Guests will be able to download the menu to their own device and to order directly from the menu. Payment will be contactless and made through an app or by card as the hotel staff will no longer accept cash payments.

Stephen Gow, general manager says, "A high degree of customer service has always been important to The Chester Hotel and we're having to look at how we serve food and drinks which keeps everyone involved safe, but which doesn't depersonalise the interaction to the point where it's uncomfortable.

"The team is keen to get back to doing what we all love to do, which is providing award winning standards of service to our customers in stylish surroundings."

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When can outdoor hospitality spaces open?

Scotland’s journey out of lockdown will be done in phases, with changes to outdoor exercise, work, seeing family and friends, and the reopening of some businesses among the first restrictions to be eased.

A number of relaxation to rules came into force on 29 May, permitting one household to meet with one other household at a time outdoors, providing social distancing is maintained, and no more than eight people are in a group at one time.

Phase one will be under regular review until 18 June when a detailed review will determine if we can move to phase two.

The country must also meet the six criteria set out by the World Health Organisation for easing restrictions.

Once these criteria have been met, pubs and restaurants will be able to open outdoor spaces with social distancing measures in place.

Read more: When will pubs reopen? Date Scottish bars, restaurants and cafes could open in phase two of lockdown exit plan

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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