The De Vere Group's hotel brand is to become a cohesive golf resort division, following the sale of three hotels and the signing of new management contracts.
Andrew Coppel, chairman of the De Vere Group, said that the profile of a golf-focused brand would be increased significantly by the signing of a management contract for the 324-bedroom Belfry hotel, which has hosted the Ryder Cup on four occasions.
The contract for the Belfry, which is currently in the process of being sold by Irish businessman Sean Quinn, is one of three management deals which De Vere is hoping to sign with golfing hotels.
"There will of course be financial benefits from the management contract at the Belfry, but the real impact will be on the further enhancement of our golf product profile, which currently comprises 16 courses at 11 locations, and which is becoming more cohesive under Daniel Hodson (De Vere's director of golf and leisure)," Coppel said.
In April the 140-bedroom Royal Bath in Bournemouth was sold to Britannia Hotels and the sale of the 173-bedroom Grand Harbour, Southampton, and the 119-bedroom University Arms, Cambridge, are both currently under negotiation. Once they have all been disposed of, the 200-bedroom Grand in Brighton will be the only non-golfing hotel in what will be then an eight-strong hotel group.
Work has recently started on a £4.25m refurbishment of the Grand involving the redecoration of all the bedrooms and public areas, while the spa, which in recent years has become redundant, will be recreated.
"We are restoring the Grand to its iconic status to ensure it will become the best hotel on the South Coast and be a truly great property again," said Coppel, who admitted that the hotel might then be sold "if the opportunity is right".
With regards to De Vere's newly renamed Village Urban Resorts brand, Coppel said that the company was close to signing a new hotel and was in advanced negotiations regarding a further three properties. "Meanwhile we have been working hard at improving the aspirational qualities of Village since the arrival of Robert Cook as chief executive."
By Janet Harmer
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