One of the UK's most iconic seaside hotels, the 152-bedroom Imperial hotel in Torquay, is set to be returned to the glittering property it once was after being scooped up by Brownsword Hotel Group.
The Imperial is the first hotel to be sold within the 10-strong portfolio of regional properties within the Hotel Collection which was put on the market earlier this year by its owner Lone Star Funds, for a combined total of £130m. The price paid for the Imperial, which comprises a restaurant, two bars, health club, tennis and squash courts, and nine conference rooms, has not been disclosed.
It will be the largest acquisition to date for Christina and Andrew Brownsword, owners of Brownsword Hotel Group, who now intend to undertake "a sympathetic restoration and refurbishment project" of the iconic Victorian hotel over the next two to five years. As a result of underinvestment in recent years, the job will be extensive. Prior to being owned by Lone Star, the Imperial was run by Puma Hotels, having earlier been branded as a Barcelo hotel.
In its heyday, the Imperial's general manager was 1986 Hotelier of the Year, Harry Murray, who ran the property from 1976 to 1994. Murray told The Caterer that the hotel will require a "huge investment in the product, training and marketing" and is pleased that it will be in the hands of a hotelier with a track record of quality. "Andrew and Christina were regular visitors to the hotel during my time and it was always their dream to own the hotel," he said. "I wish them every success in restoring the hotel back to its former glory and look forward to observing progress with great interest."
The Brownswords said that they are looking forward to becoming "custodians of this piece of Devonian tradition and building upon its extensive history and reputation".
Andrew Brownsword commented: "We, like many people in the industry, remember fondly the heyday of the Imperial. The hotel benefits from a very special location on the Devonshire coast and we look forward to working with its team to begin the next chapter of its history. We will be restoring the Imperial with the aim that it will become one of Britain's very best seaside hotels."
Martin Rogers, head of UK hotel transactions at Savills, added: "This is a particular milestone as it marks the first sale within the 10-strong portfolio of regional UK hotels known as Project Solstice, which Savills and Rothschild are marketing on behalf of The Hotel Collection."
The Imperial Hotel will become 14th property within the Brownsword Hotel Group. The main collection of the portfolio is made up of eight primarily country house properties including Gidleigh Park in Devon and the Bath Priory, as well as Sydney House in Chelsea, London, Abode Hotels, its group of city centre properties, is located in Canterbury, Exeter, Chester, Manchester and Glasgow.
Last month, Brownsword completed the acquisition of the 52-bedroom Old Swan & Minster Mill in Minster Lovell, Oxfordshire, from the de Savary family.
Lone Star acquired the Hotel Collection in June 2014, when the group was made up of 21 properties. A year later it announced that it would dispose of the individual properties within the group in order to focus on properties operating under various international brands such as Hilton, Doubletree by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn from Hilton Worldwide, Mercure and MGallery from AccorHotels, and Jurys Inn under the umberella of newly created company, Amaris Hospitality.
The nine remaining Hotel Collection properties to be sold include the Majestic, Harrogate; Old Ship hotel, Brighton; Redworth Hall, County Durham; Billesley Manor, Stratford-upon-Avon; Imperial, Blackpool; Shrigley Hall hotel, golf and country club, Macclesfield; Stirling Highland, Stirling; Aberdeen Altens, Aberdeen and the Angel hotel, Cardiff.
Latest video from The Caterer
Are you looking for a new role? See all the current hospitality vacancies available with The Caterer Jobs >>