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Boss reveals £4m makeover plan for historic hotel

PUBLISHED: 08:00 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:12 10 January 2020

General manager David Graham outside Dunston Hall which will see up to £4m invested to refurbish the rooms and restaurant. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

General manager David Graham outside Dunston Hall which will see up to £4m invested to refurbish the rooms and restaurant. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

The new manager of Norwich’s Dunston Hall hotel has announced the entire venue will be refurbished as part of a multi-million pound investment.

Dunston Hall's general manager David Graham will oversee a multi-million pound investment of up to £4m to refurbish the hotel's facilities. Picture: Ella WilkinsonDunston Hall's general manager David Graham will oversee a multi-million pound investment of up to £4m to refurbish the hotel's facilities. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

David Graham, who took over as general manager before Christmas, declared: "We're putting Dunston Hall back on the map, we're making it the premier hotel in Norfolk and we'll make local people love it again."

Mr Graham, who returns after being operations manager from 2006-12, is spearheading the transformation of the hotel in Ipswich Road - scheduled to be completed by November.

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The restaurant at Dunston Hall is one of the areas which will benefit from a multi million pound investment in the hotel complex. Picture: Ella WilkinsonThe restaurant at Dunston Hall is one of the areas which will benefit from a multi million pound investment in the hotel complex. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

It will see nothing left untouched - all 166 bedrooms will get improvements with the oldest, including the penthouse suite - last given a complete new-look back in the 1990s - given a total revamp. Communal areas including the bar and the restaurant will also be redecorated and carpets replaced throughout. There will also be a new menu with executive chef Paul Murfitt returned from working away. He is aiming to use more locally sourced produce and also introducing new tapas and small plate meals in the bar. One of the gambles is the hotel has scrapped its 'pile your plate high' carvery for a traditional Sunday roast.

Mr Graham, who returns to Norfolk from working for hotels across the UK and who lives in Queen's Hills, Costessey, said: "I'm coming back home."

"This is going to be the year of the staycation and we have a building that sets us apart from the competition, you only have to come up the drive to see that. Our greatest asset is the front facade, People talk about North Norfolk hotels but actually we are in a better location.

Dunston Hall near Norwich is to undergo a major refurbishment of its facilities. Picture: Ella WilkinsonDunston Hall near Norwich is to undergo a major refurbishment of its facilities. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

"I want to create a resort feel, we have good numbers of people coming to stay here from away but the local market has dwindled. We don't have as many local people coming to celebrate special occasions here or just coming for lunch." He said Sunday lunches used to attract 4-500 diners whereas now it was less than 100. And despite Dunston Hall being a major wedding venue, with 57 held there last year, they'd like to do more - already they've got 64 booked for 2020 and a target of 90.

He emphasised work would be done in small stages and discreetly, with no disruption to guests.

Dunston Hall is under ownership of Almarose Hotels & Resorts, the management arm of London property firm Aprirose, which acquired QHotels together with Chinese investment. It is one of 20 hotels across the UK being refurbished but unlike some, will not be getting its name changed.

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