Robert Cook is to step down as chief executive of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin.
After eight years at the helm of two of the UK's most successful boutique hotel brands, Cook has decided to pursue a new challenge.
"I have two or three opportunities in the pipeline and I shall be making up my mind which one to pursue in the next few weeks," Cook told Caterer and Hotelkeeper. They are not all hotel-related, but they are all in the leisure sector."
Cook said that with the recent refinancing of MWB, the parent company of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin, now is a good time to go.
"After being with Malmaison for 12 years, I want to prove that I can make my mark somewhere else. I have had a fabulous time with the two hotel brands and I'm proud that I shall be leaving behind a strong team. Many of the staff have joined us as young people and have grown into general manger and regional roles."
Cook joined Malmaison in 1997, initially spending four years with the group, first as general manager of the Newcastle and Manchester hotels and then as regional operations director, before the company was sold to Patriot Hospitality.
After working with Malmaison's founder Ken McCulloch on the Columbus hotel in Monte Carlo and the Dakota hotel group in the UK, he rejoined Malmaison (now owned by MWB) in 2004 as chief executive in time to see the acquisition of the Hotel du Vin chain from founders Robin Hutson and Gerard Basset.
The two brands have expanded under Cook's steerage - there are now 12 Malmaisons and 15 Hotel du Vins - but the group did suffer during the recession and responded by cutting rates and stalling its expansion programme.
However, in 2010 Cook announced the resumption of the group's growth with plans to take the Malmaison brand international and the launch of standalone Bistro du Vin outlets. Two restaurants have already opened in London's Clerkenwell and Soho, and a further 12 Bistro du Vin outlets are set to open in the next five years.
Cook said he will remain as chief executive until March 2012 and will help Richard Balfour-Lynn, chief executive of MWB, appoint his successor.
By Janet Harmer
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