The former owners of Gravetye Manor, the three-AA-red-star, three-AA-rosette country house hotel that went into administration last week, are hoping to buy back the property.
Andrew Russell and chef Mark Raffan said they were devastated that they had lost the hotel after having both worked there for more than 20 years.
"Walking away from the Manor was heartbreaking," said Russell, who bought the property from the hotel's founders, Peter and Sue Herbert, in 2004. "We both started working at the hotel in our teens and have lived and breathed the place ever since."
KL Dukes and EM Shires of PricewaterhouseCoopers were appointed as joint administrators of the Elizabethan mansion on 4 January as a result of financial difficulties and are honouring all existing bookings.
"We now have an independent backer and very much hope that we will be able to buy back the hotel and make good with our suppliers," Russell said. "We miss our great team and hope to be working with them again soon."
The administrators said several other parties had also expressed an interest in buying the business, which is a member of Relais & Châteaux.
Jaume Tàpies, international president of Relais & Châteaux, said: "I know that Andrew, Mark and all the staff have fought really hard for their business.
"They have tried to amend the situation over the past year. During this period, Gravetye has kept the highest possible level of service for its clients.
"We shall be studying the membership situation. Our rules are clear: a change of management or ownership can affect or cancel the membership."
By Janet Harmer
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