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Blunos leaves Lygon amid sale rumours

14 October 2005

Martin Blunos, executive chef at the Lygon Arms, has left the hotel amid rumours it will finally be taken over by Paramount Hotels in December.

Blunos's two-year contract with the Michelin-starred business, part of Furlong Hotels, was due to end in January next year, but he left on 1 October citing an increasingly hectic media-related workload.

Blunos, who is believed to have a high-profile TV programme in the pipeline, said: "It has been a real challenge here and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time. There is now a very capable kitchen team and strong management structure in place, and I wish everyone the very best for the future".

However, sources close to the hotel contradicted this, claiming the kitchen brigade had been halved from 17 to fewer than 10 in the past six months. One said: "There is a funny atmosphere in the hotel, and there are so many cutbacks going on."

Paramount, owned by Dawnay Shore Hotels (the investment arm for Dawnay Day and Shore Capital), is expected to complete the purchase of the Furlong group for about £47m at the start of December.

The group comprises the Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds, Billesley Manor in Warwickshire and Combe Grove Manor in Bath. Paramount is also thought to be considering keeping on Furlong's chief executive, Haydn Fentum, as a consultant.

Fentum declined to comment on the group's potential sale and denied there were staffing issues. He said of Blunos: "We're genuinely sorry we couldn't work the situation out, but wish him well and hope to work with him again in the future."

A Dawnay Shore Hotels spokesman declined to comment.

By Emily Manson

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