A three-star hotel in the Lake District is to be the setting for a new prime-time Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary series.
The Hotel, which features the 40-bedroom Damson Dene hotel in Crosthwaite over the course of the eight-week series, is likely to make a media star out of its flamboyant general manager, Wayne Bartholomew, as well as bring a flood of interest to the property, which is part of the four-strong South Lakes Hotels group.
Dragonfly Production TV and Film Productions, which have made the programme on behalf of Channel 4, selected the Damson Dene from more than 300 hotels which applied to take part following an advertisement in Caterer and Hotelkeeper a year ago.
Jonathan Denby, owner of South Lakes Hotels, said that it had been a risk allowing more than 50 cameras to be installed into every corner of the hotel, including several guest bedrooms, over the course of six weeks last summer.
"I think the industry could be split in their views of the programme, with some not agreeing with the way we run the hotel and others being jealous with the amount of publicity we shall get," he said.
"But I don't regret my decision as I wanted to show the realities of running a three-star hotel out in the country, which is very different from the luxury hotels we usually see on our TV screens."
Denby described his typical guest at the hotel, which he bought in 2000, as the "Mondeo man".
The Hotel documents life both front and back of house with the guests and staff being given equal air time. Simon Dickson, commissioning editor at Channel 4, said the programme provides a fascinating insight into people's dreams when they book a weekend in the country.
"It is classic Upstairs Downstairs territory. The guests arrive with high expectations and most of the staff have just arrived from Eastern Europe," he said. "There is tenderness, culture clashes, surprise and some wonderfully flamboyant characters."
Sanjay Singhal, executive producer of Dragonfly, which also made the BAFTA-award-winning One Born Every Minute series, said the Damson Dene had been selected because it was a quintessential, provincial English hotel, which provided an interesting take on immigration issues with its large quota of East European staff.
"And once we met Wayne, we knew we had a key selling point."
By Janet Harmer
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