Cateys 2011: Hotel of the Year – Independent – the Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa

15 July 2011
Cateys 2011: Hotel of the Year – Independent – the Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa

Sponsored by Colliers International

This 36-bedroom hotel in North Yorkshire has been on an incredible journey since it was purchased in 2003, thanks to the passion and drive of a talented hotelier, owner Simon Rhatigan. His vision has been to create a modern country inn hotel with good food and a great spa where guests can chill out - and he has achieved it in spades.

Rhatigan is no stranger to success. His impressive career includes being general manager of Blanc Restaurants, overseeing the development of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons and more recently managing director of Tom's Companies, where he oversaw the opening of the boutique Samling hotel in the Lake District.

This experience has stood the Feversham in good stead during the recession. But, as with any hotel deserving of this particular Catey, Feversham is also blessed with a dedicated team of staff who are passionate about delivering good service. This is generated through hard work, training and by recognising those who show initiative and flair.

Through the team's proactive and focused sales and marketing strategy, as well as the investment of 4.95% of revenue in refurbishing and adding new rooms and the spa, the Feversham was in good shape to face recession in 2008.

No wonder Simon Numphud, hotel services manager at AA Hotel Services, described Feversham as: "A great example of an independent hotel that has continued to evolve and improve through reinvestment in both its product and its people. As a result it has become well established as a leading hotel, both locally and nationally, commercially successful and above all a great hotel that others can look to emulate and be inspired by."

The hotel's successful PR coverage has generated more than £345,000 of tracked business and the hotel has won scores of awards - being named, for instance, Alastair Sawday's Travel Guide Britain's Favourite Hotel 2009/10.

By consistently improving standards, Rhatigan and the team have increased turnover from £3.17m in 2009/10 to £3.79m in 2010/11, while spa turnover is up by 34% on the previous year to £687,000.

They have also embraced the social network era and, in deference to technology-driven world that guests now live in, the well-designed website is now interactive, with chef blogs, a facility for guests to choose their own room and even a video.

Judge Claire Randall, managing director, Lucknam Park Hotel, said: "With continuous and steady improvement, this property has blossomed in to a real gem."

Jonathan Raggett, managing director of Red Carnation Hotels, was impressed, too. He noted that: "The Feversham Arms has become a destination property for the North of England with the right balance between relaxed style and perfectly executed, consistent and personal service."

Consultant Melvin Gold added: "The hotel benefits from Rhatigan's combined blend of skills as entrepreneur and hotelier. The product has evolved year-on-year to create this excellent example of a modern, independent hotel."

Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa, Helmsley
â- Lime Wood Hotel, Lyndhurst, The New Forest
â- The Scarlet Hotel, Mawgan Port, Cornwall

The Judges

Richard Ball, managing director, Calcot Health & Leisure
Melvin Gold, managing director, Melvin Gold Consulting
David Guile, chief executive, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts
Simon Numphud, hotel service manager, AA Hotel Services
Jonathan Raggett, managing director, Red Carnation Hotels
Claire Randall, managing director, Lucknam Park Hotel

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