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Orient seeks UK link

Orient-Express Hotels is seeking a British presence after its remaining UK hotel management contract, at the Welcombe Hotel and Golf Course in Warwickshire, came to an end last week.

The group sold the 76-bedroom Welcombe to Japanese group Yamada & Co in June 1990 for £11.4m, but retained control of the property through a management contract.

John Verhelst, new sales and marketing director at Orient-Express Hotels, said the period of the contract had come to a close and Orient-Express had decided not to renew it.

Brian Miller, general manager of the Welcombe for the past 11 years, has left the hotel. It is now managed directly by Yamada, whose new manager is Koshi Shirai.

The Welcombe situation mirrors that of the Turnberry Hotel in Ayrshire where first the ownership and then the management passed from Orient-Express Hotels’ hands to Japanese group Nitto Kogyo.

Mr Verhelst said Orient-Express would be keen to manage another UK hotel but it would have to be compatible with its 11 luxury properties, such as the Hotel Cipriani in Venice and the Copacabana Palace in Brazil, which is currently undergoing a £13m refurbishment.

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