I have read with interest the debate on smoking in our trade and national press and thought I would share our experiences, which may help those establishments wavering about what to do.
Missenden Abbey Conference Centre adopted a no-smoking policy in its bedrooms approximately seven years ago. Our restaurant, meeting rooms and coffee lounges had been non-smoking before then. Negative comment from guests was zero. The only smoking area in the building was the bar.
During the early part of 2005 the debate really hotted up. We read of fights in the Cabinet, profit warnings from some operators and civil rights arguments for both sides of the debate. I desperately wanted the Government to make a decision and ban it completely. This would then allow me to hide behind the veil of bureaucracy. Regrettably, the issue was fudged. We had to make our own decision.
Brave souls that we are, in January we went completely non-smoking. We have not heard one dissenting voice. Our customers have welcomed it, and we have provided a safer, cleaner environment for our guests and staff.
I believe we are one of the first dedicated conference centres in the UK to have adopted such a policy. Resisting such a move is akin to trying to push water up a hill.
Centre director, Missenden Abbey Conference Centre