English Lakes Hotels

Activities:

English Lakes Hotels is a family-run group of individually styled three- and four-star hotels in and around the Lake District. They cater for both the tourist and the conference markets. The company owns all the hotels bar one, which it manages for a third party.

Key People:

Chairman and managing director: Simon Berry
Buildings and leisure director: Tim Berry
Operations director: Douglas Dale
Sales director: Jane Knowles
Finance director: Mike Doyle

Commentary:

English Lakes Hotels has been a leading player in the Lakeland hotel community for many decades. Michael Berry was awarded an OBE in 1997 for his services to training and tourism in Cumbria and, three years later, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Cumbrian branch of the HCIMA.

The company’s plans to double in size, announced in 2003, have yet to be realised. Rather, the company has shrunk slightly, with the closure of the Royal hotel in late 2004 because it did not fit the company profile.

It will be a challenge for ELH to find suitable sites in a tourist hotspot, where demand for hotels is high and management contracts are unusual. It has now said that it would consider leaseholds as well as outright buys and management deals. Its acquisition criteria are specific – it wants high-quality three- and four-star hotels with water frontage that lie within a 10-mile radius of its Windermere base.
Meanwhile, the group continues to invest in upgrading its existing estate. The 29-bedroom, two-star Waterhead hotel closed in November 2003 and re-emerged the following April as the area’s first four-star town house hotel, with 41 bedrooms.

ELH is currently adding 19 luxury suites to Lancaster House, along with new conference and function facilities and an improved leisure and beauty centre, that will be complete by March 2005.

Strategy:

The company plans to expand to 10 hotels over the next two years. These will be good-quality hotels, primarily in the Lake District, and could be a mixture of management deals and owned hotels.

Source: Simon Berry, Caterer & Hotelkeeper, 24 April 2003

Operating Data:

Number of hotels: five

Number of employees: about 350

Group turnover for the year ending 31 March 2004: £11.8m

Payroll as a percentage of turnover: 34.8%

The hotels:

Low Wood: 110 bedrooms, two restaurants, leisure club, beauty salon and watersports centre.

Lancaster House: 80 bedrooms and one restaurant.

The Famous Wild Boar: 36 bedrooms and one restaurant.

The Waterhead: 28 bedrooms, one restaurant and bar & bistro.

The Royal: 29 bedrooms, one restaurant and two theme bars.

Storrs Hall: 28 bedrooms and one restaurant.

Address:

Low Wood

Windermere,

UK