The former director of sales and marketing of Von Essen, Greg Ward, has joined Amazing Retreats to help grow its portfolio of hotels and exclusive use properties.
Ward, who left Von Essen several weeks after the company collapsed into administration in April with debts of more than £250m, said he had no idea of the extent of the group's financial problems and was "extremely surprised" by its demise.
In his new role as sales and operations director of Amazing Retreats, he will be overseeing a group of 12 luxury properties including castles, monasteries, forts and follies.
Three of the properties are hotels - the nine-bedroom Bath Lodge Castle, near Bath; 30-bedroom Carberry Tower, near Edinburgh; and the 50-bedroom Stanbrook Abbey in Callow End, Worcestershire. The rest of the portfolio, including Spitbank Fort, a former Napoleonic fort in the middle of the Solent, are hired out on an exclusive use basis for private parties or corporate events.
Stanbrook Abbey, a former Victorian monastery, is currently closed for an extensive refurbishment and is due to reopen in 2012.
Ward will be involved in the growth of the company, both within the UK and then into Europe. "The expansion plans are focused on both exclusive properties and hotels which need to fit the criteria of unusual and iconic," he said.
Amazing Retreats is owned by Mike Clare, an entrepreneur who launched Dream Beds, which today has 250 superstores.
By Janet Harmer
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