The Ginger Hall Hotel has changed hands.
The inn is well known for its location on the TT course, between the 20th and 21st milestone, and sees visitors and locals alike enjoy the views, drinks and hospitality on offer throughout TT and MGP and during the rest of the year.
It’s a popular venue with outside seating, live music and a varied selection of beer, wine and spirits.
However, it has been shut for the past two-and-a-half weeks while it underwent refurbishment and the new innkeepers got a chance to settle in.
We caught up with the Mark and Anya to see how preparations are going ahead of its grand re-opening this Friday (July 18), just in time for the centenary Manx Grand Prix.
They explained their big plans for the place, including new pub grub, renovating the upstairs rooms, and improving the hospitality at TT.
The couple live in nearby Ballaugh.
It is the first time they have run a bar, unless you include the one they made in their garden a few years ago.
Mark’s background is the navy, in which he served for 30 years, while Anya was the Isle of Man Prison healthcare manager.
With former landlord Ben Sowery moving on from The Ginger Hall, Mark and Anya were enthusiastic to take on the opportunity.
When asked how it had happened, Mark said: ‘Almost by accident really!
Ben suggested to Mark that he should take over.
‘It took a lot of thought really, but it was definitely something we wanted to do,’ Mark said.
He went on to explain the reason for the closure and how surprised he was at the workload.
Mark said: ‘It’s been a lot more involvement than I thought it was going to be because we’ve had a bit of work to do in the cellar, behind the bar – things that people wouldn’t normally see.
‘A lot of work has gone into that and the floor, which we’ve spent a long time sanding and varnishing, so there has been quite a lot to do.
‘The administration side of things has also taken quite a bit of time but we’re only two weeks into it.
‘We had to shut just so we got everything right, so we’re ready to open shortly.’
While renovations to the inside of the pub continue, the pair are keen to ensure they don’t change too much to the much-loved country pub, as many of the locals have said they are happy with how it is.
Mark said: ‘We’ve got a really great core of locals in the village and they’re very attached to the pub and people from a little bit further out are as well.
‘The main thing is we haven’t wanted to change an awful lot within the fabric of the inside of the building.
‘We’ve kept it as it has always been mostly, but we have put a little bit of different colour in there and changed a couple of pictures around but mostly everything is very much as it was.’
Despite not wanting to lose the charm and character of ‘The Ginge’, Mark said that they do have extensive plans to ensure the business is profitable and a success.
He said: ‘We have big plans. Of course the bar is our core business but the restaurant is something we really want to bring up and do something with.
‘We’re looking at doing traditional pub grub type offering.’
This would be a change for the Ginger Hall, as for the past few years the restaurant has offered Thai cuisine by Lemongrass.
Mark went on to talk about the plans for the rooms upstairs and the beer garden at the back.
‘All the rooms we offer are going to be refurbished one by one.
‘This will take some time but we’d like to hope that the rooms would be ready for next TT, so people staying then have a slightly upgraded room.
‘We want to develop the hospitality further, building on what Ben has done, and we’ve got a great outdoor space here to make something of as well.
‘Ben used it for weddings and other things so we’d like to develop that further as well.’
Although both laughing when asked if they work well together, Anya insisted they do and believes the pair make a good team.
She said: ‘Yes, we do! I’m more design, colour and organisation and Mark is the workhorse and the admin!’
Locals may know the Ginger best for its reputation of live music and atmosphere, and with all the plans for change Mark insisted they certainly don’t want to lose that.
He said: ‘We’re keeping a similar thing in terms of music, it has a good reputation for live music, so we’re definitely keeping that on, but maybe not as often.
‘Some of the locals prefer to be here in the early afternoon and evening and just want to sit and have a chat so we’ll bear that in mind and maybe have something on once a week or once a fortnight.
‘We want to offer decent beer at a decent price, and try to build the atmosphere up.’
Opening on Friday, and with the 100th Manx Grand Prix roaring into life on Sunday, Mark and Anya don’t have much of a chance to ease into their new roles, but they believe it’s just the start they need.
Mark said: ‘The Manx Grand Prix is a good test for us because we’re going straight into it. It wasn’t designed that way, but we just wanted to get any major work we wanted to do, in the cellar and behind the bar, out of the way and open up.
‘It just so happened that it was the two weeks running up to the Manx Grand Prix that we closed.
‘We want to make sure that we’re absolutely ready for visitors for that and then, obviously for TT next year, we have further plans for the hospitality offering. It’ll be quite exciting leading up to that to see what we can do and how we can develop it further.
Mark emphasised it was a mix of both excitement and nerves ahead of the reopening.
‘It’s a mix of both. There’s definitely some apprehension there regarding what I can bring to the business, but I think I’m a fairly easy-going genial person so I see my role as keeping everybody, especially the customers happy.
‘We’ve got great staff, who are staying on behind the bar to carry on serving all the customers and keeping everyone filled up with beer.’