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Diversifying in a time of crisis: New Kent hotel to launch as a wedding venue

Boutique hotel The Vines of Rochester postpones launch and adapts to cater for wedding market in a bid to survive

Mid-2020 was set to welcome 13-bedroom luxury boutique hotel and restaurant, The Vines to Rochester in Kent, following five years of extensive renovation and restoration. However, due to the effects of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry, The Vines owners, father and daughter, Paul and Rebecca Collins have decided to pursue an alternative course, diversifying the property to accommodate the increased demand to host postponed weddings and delaying the official hotel launch until January 2021.

With successful wedding and hospitality businesses already under their belt including Cooling Castle Barn and The Fire Station Brasserie, The Vines proprietors, The Montgomery Group have been able to swiftly make the transition and transform the historic Rochester venue into a magical place to have a wedding.

The Montgomery Group Managing Director Rebecca Collins explains, “we have been working tirelessly to design, plan and restore the exceptional building into a notable restaurant with rooms. As a small family-run business, we cannot be more upset and disheartened to have our imminent opening thwarted, but we are not the only ones to have suffered. During the lockdown, wonderful couples from our sister wedding venue, Cooling Castle Barn have had to cancel their special occasions and look to make new plans. For this reason and for a short period of time, we will be offering The Vines as an exclusive wedding venue to support couples that have had their wedding day ruined.”

The Vines proposes a distinctly different offering to its sibling venues. Formerly Rochester’s old archdeaconry, the building and surrounds are steeped in history and as such, the Collins family’s aim was to create a space that lives and breathes its remarkable history. Eight of the thirteen bedrooms on site are in the main house and each room is beautifully unique following the restoration of original features. The remaining five brand new rooms are housed in the landscaped gardens and each come with an individual patio area. One of the outdoor rooms will be available as a bridal suite.

Accompanying the rooms, The Vines has two restaurants – one offering a la carte and the other a more casual Brasserie affair – a separate bar and outdoor kitchen and seating area. Each entertaining space will now play host to the most magnificent of wedding celebrations.

A new standout feature at The Vines is a statement Nordic-style ‘tipi’, installed to provide a romantic and atmospheric backdrop for wedding ceremonies. Good weather will allow for the sides to be open to the elements and any unsettling wind or rain will mean guests stay warm and cosy within the enclosed structure.

Two types of weddings will be available at The Vines, a ‘traditional’ or ‘festival’ celebration. The traditional wedding includes all of the well-established elements key to a time-honoured English wedding and will host up to 70 day-guests, whilst their innovative and exciting festival wedding offering is The Vines take on a relaxed and interactive all-day celebration of guests’ nuptials with live and inventive food and drink stands and capacity for 120 guests.

With a wealth of experience in the wedding industry behind them, the Collins family aren’t entering unchartered territory, however these are unprecedented times and this certainly isn’t how they had anticipated the launch of The Vines. To date, all weddings cancelled at Castle Cooling Barn have been offered full refunds, an alternative 2021 date or the opportunity to explore the possibility of a celebration at The Vines.

The Vines is now available for exclusive wedding bookings for 2021.

The venue shall look to officially launch as a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar in early 2021 too, more shall follow on this over the coming months.