The Nicolas James Group, owner of Harbour Hotels, has acquired the former Shearings Savoy hotel in Bournemouth, with plans for a £20m investment to develop it into the first property under the group's new five-star resort brand.
The as-yet-unnamed brand, like Harbour, will feature properties located along the UK's coastline and is set to be a "luxury, modern resort lifestyle" brand.
Starting in Bournemouth, with more sites to follow, the new mixed-use concept will include a hotel resort alongside proposed apartments.
The planned phased development will see the hotel undergo a soft refurbishment under its current name to open 60 of its 106 bedrooms for the 2021 summer season. It will then close from September for a full and extensive redevelopment and rebrand, with the new name to be unveiled in due course.
The venue will then relaunch next summer as a five-star, 100-bedroom hotel with a spa and wellness club, multiple food and beverage offerings, including new rooftop and garden restaurants, outdoor terraces and landscaped gardens, as well as meetings and events facilities.
Nicolas Roach, chairman of the Nicolas James Group, said: "For previous generations, Bournemouth was the prime coastal location. With phenomenal untapped potential, on one of Europe's top beaches, it is time to bring back the golden era of Bournemouth's hospitality and raise the game, starting on the Westcliff. As in other locations, our group will invest heavily, much like we did in Southampton, transforming Ocean Village into a five-star destination."
Councillor Phillip Broadhead, deputy leader of BCP Council and cabinet member of regeneration said the investment was "great news for Bournemouth and indeed the whole BCP area"; while councillor Drew Mellor, leader of BCP Council, said it was part of the council's "ambitious vision to create a world class city region".
This year, the Nicholas James Group is set to open the Beach Club & Spa, its second development in Salcombe, Devon, alongside 10 luxury residential apartments, joining the group's Harbour portfolio of 15 hotels across the south of England.
Specialist Leisure Group, parent company of the 117-year-old Shearings coach holiday brand and operator of 44 hotels in the UK, fell into administration last year after failing to secure a rescue deal. The group was significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic as all tours, trips and events were cancelled and the hotels closed to the public, leading to a significant cash shortfall. Around 2,460 jobs were made redundant.
Of the 44 hotels, Shearings owned the freehold of the Grand hotel in Exmouth and a long lease on the Majestic hotel, also in in Bournemouth, both of which are understood to still be on the market.
The remaining 42 hotels were not under the control of the administrators. The 40 previously owned by LSEREF3 Laser (Shearings), a subsidiary of Lone Star Funds which took control of Shearings in 2016, were expected to reopen under Bespoke Hotels' management and a new undisclosed owner, including the Savoy. However, Bespoke Hotels has since announced that just 39 ex-Shearings properties will reopen under its new Coast & Country Hotel Collection.
The remaining two hotels were leased from a third-party and handed back to landlords.