Robin Hutson, the founder of Hotel du Vin, has joined forces with Michelin-starred chef Alex Aitken to launch a £30m boutique country house hotel in the heart of the New Forest, Caterersearch can reveal.
Lime Wood, a 30-bedroom five-star hotel in Lyndhurst, is set to open at the end of October and will mark Hutson's return to the UK hotel industry after he sold the Hotel du Vin chain, co-founded with Gerard Basset, in 2004.
The hotel, designed by David Collins, will consist of a main house, incorporating half of the bedrooms, as well as two pavilions and a coach house, two restaurants, a cocktail bar and terrace with a sliding roof, and a spa which will open in spring next year.
Hutson described the venture as "an extraordinary project for today". "I don't think the country house sector has seen such a development in the last ten years. We're aiming to be in the top five country house hotels within two years," he told Caterersearch.
"We're encouraging anyone who's worked with us before and enjoyed it to get in touch now to work here."
Hutson has already recruited some of the hotel's key staff members towards what he describes as his "dream team".
Aitken, chef patron of Le Poussin restaurant in Lyndhurst, will move the Michelin-starred restaurant to the hotel as well as overseeing a second brasserie-style eaterie The Scullery, which will serve steak frites and all-day hamburgers.
Justin Pinchbeck, general manager at The Zetter hotel in London, will take the role of hotel director, while ex-Ritz Carlton director of marketing and sales David Elton becomes the non-executive marketing director.
The hotel's owner is local businessman Jim Ratcliffe, who recruited Hutson four months ago to consult on the project.
By Gemma Sharkey
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