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We need people to invest in Clacton and we'll be great again
6:00am Thursday 28th November 2013 in News
CAROL and Peter Oleggini have seen it all in Clacton – its highs of being a tourism boom town and the lows of neglect.
They have been running the Chudleigh Hotel – a traditional bed and breakfast in Agate Road – for 50 years.
Carol, 71, and Peter, 79, moved to Clacton in its Sixties heyday when it was a busy tourist trap with a bustling Butlins holiday camp.
They have witnessed the town fall on harder times, culminating in it being described as a magnet for drugs and gangs in Channel 4 TV show Bouncers.
Carol said: “Clacton has been through a rough patch. The TV programmes at the moment certainly do not help the town.
“But you have got to have hope.
Back in the Sixties, we came and invested our money and ourselves in the town.
“We just need people to keep doing that and there is a bright future for Clacton. Hope comes from the prospect of future developments and investment.”
The town is enjoying a minirevival with recent major investment in pier and pavillion sites.
A £36million sea defence project, to protect the town’s beaches, is due to get under way next year.
Carol said: “I don’t think the town will ever have the hustle and bustle we once saw. I see Clacton as being a bit lost, lacking the identity it once had. I would love to see more community spirit creep back into the town and for it to find the right path again.”
The bed and breakfast trade in Clacton has suffered a demise in line with the shrinking tourist trade, with many guest houses converted into bedsits or homeless accommodation.
Although tourism is still important to Clacton, more visitors now are day-trippers who do not want to stay in traditional guest houses or bed and breakfasts.
Despite the change in tastes, the Chudleigh Hotel is still going strong. The secret to Carol and Peter’s success is the personal touch and the first-class breakfasts.
Carol said: “In a seaside town it is always busy in the summer followed by absolutely nothing in winter, though we have worked to change that over the years.
“When we first started, the business was not so commercial, a bit more family oriented.
“We always wanted to maintain that family feel and that is one of the advantages of being around so long.
“Even though we have been here for 50 years, hopefully it still feels fresh and new.
“Constantly updating and keeping up with the trends is what this business is all about.
“You have to keep up and we are proud to have been going strong for this long.”
We're not talking of retiring just yet
CAROL and Peter fell in love with the Chudleigh Hotel on their chance first viewing.
They were a young married couple living in London but their jobs – Peter worked in catering and Carol at a hospital – meant they never saw each other.
They gave up their jobs and started working at hotels in Bedfordshire and then Hertfordshire.
Carole said: “I spoke to a neighbour and she knew someone who was selling a property in Clacton.
“We came to view it and we just fell in love with it straight away.
We moved in and the rest is history.
“After three weeks we thought what the hell have we done. Running a hotel by the seaside was different, but we soon got used to it.”
Carol and Peter still take care of the hotel without help. They have one eye on retirement, but do not plan to call it a day just yet.
Carol said: “The last year has been fantastic for the hotel, getting good reviews and recognition through Trip Advisor. When I think of all those people we have had come through the doors over the last 50 years, it is amazing.
“Retirement cannot be too far down the road, but it’s not something we have talked about.
“It is about finding the right person to take it off our hands.
“Chudleigh is a part of us. We are protective of it and it will be an emotional day when we finally let it go.”
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