Happy Birthday to the Bristol Wing!

Today marks one year since we reopened our doors to guests at The Bristol Wing! It has been quite a year, but we wouldn’t change a thing.

A quick overview of The Bristol Wing:

We opened as a commercial hostel with a social purpose in 2016. During this time, we were also running The Kitchen as well as providing supporting housing to young people in 9 of our rooms. Specialists were on site to offer support and advice to those young people, and the commercial hostel ran alongside the support work. The idea behind running the commercial side, like in Bath, is that any profits are donated into the central costs of our charity, YMCA Brunel Group. Ultimately, by covering our own central costs, this means that when we receive donations, 100% of the donation goes towards our charitable work.

We closed our city-centre hostel during lockdown, but the building didn’t stay empty. Throughout the pandemic, The Bristol Wing was sublet to St. Mungo’s Homeless charity, to help tackle street homelessness throughout the pandemic.

The building was returned to us in summer of 2022, and we got to work! Dave (now General Manager) came on board to lead the renovation project, and after many cleaning sessions, lots of paint, refurbished floors, and some good old teamwork, we opened again as a commercial hostel on the 1st of March 2023!

The best man to talk about the Wing (an interview with Dave):

Why did you choose to take on The Bristol Wing and it’s renovation?

I initially read the job description and knew I was perfect for the role of project manager here at the Bristol Wing. After a meeting with Mike and Trish and having a look around the building I knew I had the skill set and contact list to bring life back into this incredible property. It was also a perfect time for me to sink my teeth into this kind of project and show what I can do.

Looking back, what would you have done differently?

I wouldn’t have changed anything. That’s not to say that everything has been perfect and smooth but its more that we learn and grow when we make mistakes. As long as you understand and can see what went wrong, why it went wrong and know how to ensure it doesn’t happen again then you will always build something brilliant.

What were the high-points of the year?

There has been a couple for me:

  • Opening the Wing on 01/03/2023 was a great feeling as we were able to welcome back guests to stay with us and had a fantastic month with big groups staying and experiencing Bristol
  • Most recently seeing Chris and Vanessa reach 1 year with us at The Bristol Wing and seeing both of their growth since they first walked through our doors.
  • Appointing Chris as deputy manager and seeing him embrace the role and engage with our team daily.
  • September being our busiest month where we sustained an average of 80.64% occupancy for the month!
  • Personally for me being brought in as General Manager after finishing the refurbishment of this project

What were the low-points of the year?

We have suffered a couple of damaged rooms over the year which is always hard to see after the time you spent refurbishing them but unfortunately you have to take it with a pinch of salt as 99% of the time it is always so good and hearing guest experiences of staying with us and how much they have enjoyed our hospitality makes you realise you are on to a good thing.

Why do you do what you do?

My job is so varied that I am never doing the same thing each day. I could be working on maintenance around the building ensuring that things are operational here, ensuring that compliance is adhered to around the building, hiring and training new staff, helping on front desk, covering nights, cleaning rooms. It is a varied job! I love to see the Bristol wing succeed and grow and that’s why I do what I do, I cover and help everywhere I can and make sure that operationally we are covered in all areas.

What do you enjoy most about working at The Wing?

My favourite thing is interacting with our guests. Finding out about them and why they are in Bristol. It really is incredible all the stories that you hear here and one of the great things that the Bristol Wing does so well. It connects people.

What plans do you have for the future?

My 2 biggest plans for the future is to develop our outdoor space. On our ground floor area we have access to the back yard where we will look at making a ‘bistro’ style seating area for guests to enjoy in the summer months. On floor four we have access to an outdoor roof area which would make a brilliant roof top garden/bar area for guests to utilise .. I don’t know of any other roof top bars in Bristol!