A SCOTTISH hotel took nearly 1,000 bookings in the first hour of opening reservations for al fresco eating and drinking and now plans a second marquee.

The Chester Hotel in Aberdeen took 996 reservations in the first hour of bookings opening for "The Gallery Al Fresco Experience", which will open on July 8, from Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 10pm. Within two hours, the total had risen to nearly 1,400 bookings.

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The hotel has invested in a 25-metre-long transparent, canopied marquee which has open sides to allow guests to eat and drink outdoors when it reopens, having closed to customers temporarily because of the coronavirus crisis lockdown. The hotel expects that up to 70 guests can visit at any one time while remaining at two-metre physical distancing.

A second marquee has been ordered today to extend the hotel's covered area further and give greater capacity for bookings.

Stephen Gow, general manager at The Chester Hotel, said: "We've been working hard throughout lockdown to prepare for the day when we can reopen. But I don't think anything has prepared us for the reaction that we've had today. We had been considering erecting a second marquee, and it looks as if we will put a second one in place to service demand. There will be a partnership between our team and our guests to make the new way of working a success."

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The Chester Hotel earlier this month highlighted its plans to offer al fresco dining as soon as reopening of open-air spaces to serve food and drink was permitted by the Scottish Government.

The hotel, owned by Graham Wood, furloughed staff in March as it closed temporarily amid lockdown measures implemented by the UK Government to slow the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.

The 71-room Chester Hotel noted the marquee that has been put in place would “complement the existing covered outdoor seating area”.

Plans for two transparent domes, described by the hotel as “Eden Project-style”, were also unveiled earlier this month.

The hotel noted that customers would be able to pre-book these “conservatory-style-structures” for small groups of up to eight to meet and dine.