September 19 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, January 11, 2014
The owner of a hotel that symbolises north Norfolk’s upmarket appeal has unveiled his plans for further investment in the county’s tourism industry.
Brendan Hopkins, who has already lavished more than £2m on The Hoste Arms in Burnham Market since buying it with his wife Bee in 2012, now aims to make it the eastern region’s “first five star hotel north of Cambridge”.
He said it was also his ambition to buy a further two hotels in Norfolk and invest in them in a similar way.
“I want to impress that we are investors for the long-term. We are seeing increasing visitor numbers and I have a lot of confidence in the future of Norfolk tourism,” he said.
The couple, who were good friends of The Hoste’s previous owners, the late Paul Whittome and his wife Jeanne, are already reaping the rewards of last year’s development at the historic hotel which saw its star rating elevated from three to four.
The number of bedrooms was increased from 54 to 62 in a scheme that saw the spa doubled in size and the building of a new garden room, a New Zealand style lodge dining area and a revamped reception area.
Mr Hopkins, a former television executive in Australia, said: “The Hoste has always enjoyed very high occupancy but the extra rooms have paid back very well and we have added 10 to 12pc in volume on the business.
“Christmas and New Year business was eight per cent up on last year and forward bookings are well ahead also so 2014 looks like being a strong year for The Hoste and for Norfolk tourism in general,”
He stressed the importance of continued investment and highlighted their focus on renewing rooms every five years and bringing in the latest technology.
“We also invest in a lot of staff training. We have 4,000 customers a week in the summer and it is important everyone who comes in the spa, the restaurant or the hotel has the proper Hoste treatment,” he said.
The hotel’s progression has so far created 10 extra jobs, including an expansion in the number of chefs from 13 to 17.
Mr Hopkins said he had received positive reaction to his idea of branding Norfolk as the Royal County, voiced at the EDP Business Awards, and stressed the importance of the tourism industry “selling” the county’s natural attractions, such as Holkham Beach, just rated top beach in the country by travel writers.
He said: “It is very much a common view in Norfolk tourism that we need to promote the county better and push forward with positioning Norfolk as a destination against Cornwall or Yorkshire.
“I believe there is strong evidence we are starting to do that.”
Phones 4u is to go into administration - placing more than 5,500 jobs at risk - after network operator EE joined Vodafone in cutting ties with the retailer.