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'We are not slowing up,' confirms Watergate Bay's Will Ashworth as group announces latest hotel acquisition

22 May 2020 by

Watergate Bay chief executive Will Ashworth has confirmed the group is still targeting a collection of five or six Another Place-branded hotels over the next five years, with Amport House in Hampshire announced as the latest addition.

The group acquired the Grade II-listed, 19th-century property in March (pictured) through a formal tender process with the Ministry of Defence. It is expected to relaunch as a 50-bedroom hotel under the name Another Place, the Garden, after the property's listed Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll-designed garden.

The first hotel under the new brand, Another Place, the Lake, opened in 2017 following the expansion of the former Rampsbeck hotel in Ullswater, Cumbria.

Like the first hotel, it will have a Swim Club, two restaurants and bars, and will offer a relaxed hospitality experience that enables guests to get active and enjoy the landscape, with opportunities for running, cycling, walking and horse riding in the area. Ashworth hopes it could open as soon as 2022.

Speaking to The Caterer, he confirmed coronavirus has not dampened the group's ambitions, that he is "still looking" for more properties and confident about the future of UK hospitality.

He said: " We are well-placed, as are other British hospitality businesses, to continue to innovate but be successful, given where we think hospitality will be going, with more people staying within the UK. There is a golden opportunity for UK hospitality to demonstrate how good a British holiday can be to an awful lot of people who would naturally have wished to go abroad."

While the hotel concept hasn't changed, Ashworth acknowledged that space will be ever more important and that room service will become part of the brand in a way it hasn't been before.

The group is also seeking permission to develop 10 further units of accommodation at Another Place, the Lake, including shepherd's huts, treehouses and garden suites. There will also be more provision for picnics in the grounds; and a pizza oven is being built at the Watergate Bay hotel in Cornwall, where guests will be able to take pizzas onto the beach.

Ashworth said: "We are feeling relatively confident that, as soon as we are allowed to open, both Watergate Bay and Another Place, the Lake will be busy." He added that they are planning to open both hotels on the first day it is permitted.

"People have been very keen to hold onto their summer bookings with very few cancellations. We believe that, should we open in the summer, we can make a success of that."

However, what the industry needs, he said, is clarity: "We've had clarity now that hospitality won't open before 4 July at the earliest, but we're not sure what that means to us with our regional hotels – does that mean we'll be open in early July? Will there be a delayed timeframe for those of us in Cumbria and Cornwall? And on what basis will we be allowed to open? Is it going to be based on a square metre per guest? Because to a leisure hotel with plenty of public areas that would be encouraging. If it's purely done on an occupancy, I think that would be very unfortunate and will really hamper us."

Another Place, the Lake opens following £3.5m expansion >>

Minute on the clock: Ben Harper >>

New bar to open at Watergate Bay this summer >>

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