New chief sweeps into Barnham Broom

Jonathan Ellse, new general manager at Barnham Broom. Photo: Bill Smith

Jonathan Ellse, new general manager at Barnham Broom. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2013

One of Norfolk's best known hotel and country clubs is ambitiously seeking to broaden its markets under a new general manager.

Jonathan Ellse, 39, is the new broom at Barnham Broom looking not so much to sweep clean as to build on recent investment totalling nearly £3m.

The hotel dates back to the 1970s but extensive refurbishment over the past 18 months has added new chic to the 46 bedrooms and improved the appearance of much of the rest of the site, including public areas, meeting rooms, the sports bar and health and fitness centre.

The latest development has been the transformation of the old restaurant into a smart new brasserie which opened about five weeks ago.

Mr Ellse, who arrived like a whirlwind three months ago, is proud to have already achieved a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence and sees his challenge as continuing to improve the experience of guests to match the new-look facilities.

'My vision is one of quality people offering a quality product through quality service in a quality environment – and it must all be delivered in a consistent manner,' he said.

The father of two, who began his career in his homeland of South Africa, boasts an impressive CV which includes managerial positions at five-star properties in Johannesburg, Cape Town and London.

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He also enjoyed a spell at the quintessentially English Imperial Hotel in Torquay and was part of the team that launched the luxury resort, The Grove, in Hertfordshire.

He was executive assistant manager at Northern Ireland's Lough Erne resort which hosted the recent G8 summit and in his last position as director of food and beverage at the Sandy Lane Hotel in Barbados, he was rubbing shoulders with such stars as Rihanna and music mogul Simon Cowell.

Mr Ellse, who has settled with his wife Trish and daughters Megan, 10, and Jessica, seven, in nearby Wymondham, said Barnham Broom, nestling in the Yare valley off the A47, had made an immediate impression on him.

'I fell in love with the property, the vision and the location. Everything fell in place,' he said.

'The investment taking place showed the commitment of the director, Edward Beckett. In the current economic climate, it is difficult to find people investing in property.'

Mr Ellse said room occupancy had been improving year on year and he was proud to see the trend continuing.

'Last night we were full up and today all our meeting rooms are being used. Overall, our room occupancy rate is higher than 80pc which is really good,' he said.

Key to his growth strategy has been the appointment of Samantha Clifford, who began earlier this month as sales manager.

He said: 'On a local scale, within a 40-mile radius, she will be approaching businesses in a concerted effort to put Barnham Broom back on the map.'

He added that the property was perfect for business functions offering well-equipped meeting rooms, a relaxed, picturesque setting and the chance to play golf on two championship standard courses.

Mr Ellse also aims to make further inroads into the market for mid-week and weekend leisure getaways and to draw increased business from golf societies around the country.

He said the new brasserie was also already receiving 'exceptional feedback'.

'We offer golf as well as spa and health and fitness facilities and are becoming increasingly known as a food venue,' he said. 'It's becoming a popular place for people in the area to eat out and it's our aim for Barnham Broom to be increasingly used by the local community,'