A consortium of leading hospitality entrepreneurs has bought the 83-bedroom Green Dragon hotel in Hereford off a guide price of £2.95m, with a view to turn the Grade-II-listed building into a business with global appeal.
Luke Johnson, serial hospitality entrepreneur, who lives near Malvern and owns the Penyard House hotel in Ross-on-Wye, is among the group of investors who bought the property from Mahal Hotels. Robin Sheppard, founder and chairman of Bespoke Hotels which has invested in the hotel, has been appointed chairman of the Green Dragon's new board of directors.
The project has been led by Julian Vaughan, who until recently was commercial director of hotel technology and marketing company Journey, as well as being involved in transforming his wife's family home at Dewsall Court in Hereford into a wedding and events venues. Vaughan has been supported by Christian Dangerfield, acting for Blue Sky Corporate Finance.
The hotel in Broad Street is historically a coaching inn dating back to the 16th century and it retains many of its original features. It represents nearly a quarter of Hereford's hotel inventory and will now undergo an extensive refurbishment. It features a 120-cover restaurant, coffee lounge and two bars, as well as extensive banqueting facilities, including a ballroom for 200 sit-down guests.
Sheppard said: "The Green Dragon hotel is a real gem and its restoration should be a tremendous boost for Hereford and Herefordshire. Julian and Christian have some very exciting ideas about how to reclaim its position at the heart of the city with broader national appeal."
Vaughan, who has been appointed as the hotel's managing director, said: "There has been a coaching inn on the site of the Green Dragon hotel for hundreds of years. We plan to celebrate its past, while creating a 21st-century meeting point for Herefordshire's leisure and business communities.
He added the group of locally based investors had "taken it upon themselves to support the scheme because they think its a good commercial decision, but also they are very keen to see the hotel brought back to life to help regenerate the city of Hereford" and described the building as "tired…it's clearly in need of renovation and refurbishment".
He said: "Over the first 12 months I'd put a budget of £2.5million in, but there will be ongoing refurbishment over the first five years with extensive cosmetic changes to the building. It's a beautiful listed building so we're not looking at doing anything structural other than where we need to carry out repair work, and then the rest of it will be about respecting what's here and making it work for guests in the 21st century".
Bespoke will not manage the hotel, but will provide support to the company via Sheppard's chairmanship.
The hotel will continue to trade as normal and remain open during a phased refurbishment programme, which will begin in the winter.
The sale of the hotel was handled by Christie & Co.