Planning permission is being sought for a range of comprehensive leisure and activity facilities to accompany a “world-beating” luxury country house hotel currently being developed near Hook in Hampshire.
Previously a training centre and wedding venue, Heckfield Place is undergoing a multi-million pound refurbishment to become a 70-bedroom hotel, which is due to open in April 2012.
Charles Oak, former general manager of the May Fair hotel in London, who is spearheading the project, said the Georgian property will be a unique country “escape” location which will double as a cultural and arts retreat.
“What we are proposing is very different from anything else that currently exists in the UK,” said Oak. “It will be somewhere you will be able to come for one or two weeks and keep yourself occupied. We expect it will be widely used by the music, fashion and media industries for somewhere to relax as well as do some work – such as finishing an album or putting together a listening book in the recording studio, without being hassled by the press.”
Oak is currently building a team of curators to support Heckfield Place. For instance, the food curator, Tom Parker-Bowles, has already been working with the property for six months sourcing the best artisan food suppliers in the country.
Executive head chef will be Chris Staines, formerly of the Michelin-starred Foliage restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, London, and now currently at the Feversham Arms hotel & Verbena spa in Helmsley, North Yorkshire.
As well as the produce sourced by Parker Bowles, Staines will also make extensive use of the produce grown and reared on Heckfield Place’s own farm within its 450-estate.
The interior design – English with a focus on luxury and a hint of contemporary quirkiness – is being created by The Gallery, under the direction of Inge Moore.
Heckfield Place is privately owned and is expected to employ 150 to 200 staff.
By Janet Harmer
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