Robert Cook has been appointed as chief executive of De Vere Village to expand the group of 26 new-build hotels across the UK.
In what appears to be a straight swap, Cook's former position as chief executive of the Malmaison and Hotel de Vin brands has gone to Gary Davis, formerly chief executive of De Vere Village.
Cook, 45, will also join the group executive board of the De Vere Group and take on responsibility for the company's golf business across De Vere Village's sister brands, De Vere Hotels and De Vere Venues.
He denied national newspaper reports that he had fallen out with Richard Balfour-Lynn, chief executive of MWB, the owner of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, and, in fact, said he was indebted to him for giving him the opportunity to run what he describes as "two great brands" for eight years.
"I'm now ready for a new challenge and the larger De Vere Village brand, with an annual turnover of £170m, will provide it.
"I have a lot to learn as the leisure part of De Vere Village, which accounts for around 30% of the business, is new to me," he explained. "I also have ideas for the food and beverage operation, which has a £60m turnover within Village."
Cook said that as a passionate golfer, he was excited to be involved in developing the golf business across De Vere. "This is also an expansion story as we have plans to grow the Village brand."
Andrew Coppel, group chief executive of the De Vere Group, said that it was excellent news that Cook was joining the team.
"He is highly respected within the UK hospitality industry," Coppel said. "Given his wealth of operational experience, he will add significant value to De Vere Village in particular and to the group more generally."
A typical De Vere Village hotel is situated close to a major road network, with 125 bedrooms, Buca di Beppo or Verve restaurant, a local pub, Starbucks Coffee shop, meeting spaces and a health and fitness club.
Meanwhile, Davis, 50, who has been instrumental in developing the De Vere Village brand from 17 to 26 hotels and increasing sales 55% to £170m over the past five years, said he was looking forward to working with one of the best and most motivated management teams in the sector at Malmaison and Hotel du Vin.
"It is a privilege to take over Robert's mantle, cast a fresh eye over the brands and take the business on to the next stage of its development," he said. "As well as consolidating and growing their position in the UK we aim to take Mal and HdV into new markets with a dynamic and deliverable plan."
Balfour-Lynn, said: "I would like to thank Robert Cook, who I enjoyed working with enormously, for helping to develop Malmaison and Hotel du Vin and I look forward to continuing the same positive relationship with Gary, who will undoubtedly bring a fresh perspective to the business."
By Janet Harmer
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