The Apartment Group (TAG) has bought two County Durham hotels, with plans to invest millions of pounds at both sites to create two five-star boutique hotels aimed at the leisure, wedding and corporate market.
Whitworth Hall Hotel & Deer Park (pictured) and Jersey Farm Country Hotel will join TAG's portfolio of hotels, restaurants, bars and wedding venues located across the North East of England.
The sale of Jersey Farm hotel, just outside of Barnard Castle, was completed in February. The property will be renamed Runa Farm, a derivative from the first two letters of rural and nature. When it reopens at the end of 2020 it will be a rustic hotel, country pub and wedding venue, "combining natural rural beauty with cool Balearic vibes".
Whitworth Hall & Deer Park was sold in September and the Grade II-listed mansion will reopen in early 2021. The hall sits within its own private deer park and dates to the mid-17th century and was once the ancestral home of the Shafto family. Robert Shafto, a British politician who sat in the House of Commons 1760-1790, was immortalised in the folk song and nursery rhyme ‘Bobby Shafto's Gone to Sea'. He resided in the hall, which remained a country residence until the late 20th century, when it was converted into a hotel.
TAG's chief operating officer Debrah Dhugga said: "Our plans for Whitworth Hall are completely different to Runa Farm. Where Runa Farm will be luxurious, boho and earthy, Whitworth will be an excess of opulence, sophistication and glamour, with a chapel, ballroom and bedroom suites like nothing else in the UK."
The sales were completed by Mark Worley, director at Christie & Co. He said: "The sales point to the healthy demand for hospitality businesses in the north-east region at present, particularly those which are able to host weddings and which are reliant on leisure-based trade.
"The foreign travel restrictions imposed upon us all have benefited the domestic pub and hotel industry and, as wedding income has been pushed into next year and beyond, hospitality buyers can now see the financial appeal of purchasing this type of business."
Other sites in the group's 12-strong collection include Newton Hall and Le Petit Chateau in Northumberland.