Simon Rhatigan, managing director at hotel and restaurant group Tom's Companies, which owns the 19-bedroom Seaham Hall, County Durham, has left to start his own venture.
"This is absolutely an amicable separation. Running Seaham Hall has been great, but I think these projects have a shelf life," Rhatigan said. "The time was right both professionally, as the hotel has just won AA Hotel of the Year for England, and personally, as I've just turned 40 and felt the need to move on."
Rhatigan, former general manager at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, in Oxfordshire, is buying a 17-bedroom hotel in the North of England. The idea is to develop it as a hideaway hotel, with rack rates of £120-£200 per room.
"It will be the sort of hotel people book to escape for a weekend or more - I'm not aiming for the very top end like Seaham Hall. I want a change and it's time for me to put my own personal stamp on somewhere."
The hotel will have a 50-seat brasserie that will do "grown-up but not gastronomic" food. "The food will be appropriate for the area, not over-wrought, but focusing on seasonal ingredients and offering the best of country cooking," Rhatigan said.
The managing director's role at Seaham Hall will not be filled. Tom Maxfield, chief executive of Tom's Companies, is to play a more active role in the running of hotel.
Elsewhere, Andrew Buchanan has joined Sopwell House Hotel in St Albans as general manager. Buchanan was general manager at the Westbury hotel, in London, a role he took on only last year. He has been replaced by Jane Hills.
Buchanan said he had decided to move in order to be closer to his family and to have the opportunity to work with Willi Bauer, chief executive and chairman of AB Hotels, the owner of Sopwell House.