‘Don’t shut us down again’: Hotel owner’s plea to government as he launches £4m expansion plan
- Credit: Archant
The owner of a hotel in Norfolk who is spending a further £4m on it said he needs customers to keep coming.
Sayed Ahmad Agha, a London property developer, has reopened the Caistor Hall Hotel in Caistor St Edmund. The hotel was originally relaunched last year as the Boudicca Hotel, under different management, although owned by Mr Agha. Later a row broke out with the hotel and the organiser of a series of Christmas party events which got cancelled.
In February 2020 the hotel rebranded under its original name, Caistor Hall, and unveiled its new restaurant – but then only weeks later had to close because of coronavirus.
Mr Agha refused to sell the building, intent on making a go of it, and is now looking at various expansion plans for the hotel including introducing, subject to planning approval, glamping facilities, a permanent marquee enabling conferences of up to 600 people and an extension, building 60-70 more bedrooms, adding to the current 21.
This comes as he’s already spent £1.1m refurbishing the period building, finishing all the bedrooms, many of which now boast four poster beds. He’s also created a new bedrooms suite, the Hayloft.
But Mr Agha knows he’s got a lot to prove to win back customers put off by the previous problems – as well as battle against the biggest threat to business of all, coronavirus.
This newspaper is urging the government not to impose a blanket lock-down on Norfolk which would threaten the survival of many businesses but particularly those in the tourism and hospitality sector.
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Mr Agha, who runs Knightsbridge Development and Investment Ltd and also Agha Developer and investor Ltd, said: “I could have sold Caistor Hall hotel, but I really love Norfolk and Norwich, I love this building and think it has very good potential. I want to make it the biggest conference centre as Norfolk just doesn’t have anything like that, put glamping on the field behind the hotel and do an extension. I want to do more weddings – three a day.
“I admit we made mistakes, especially with the name. Calling it the Boudicca was a big mistake, people know it and love it as Caistor Hall.
“I have completely new management in and we have plenty of space here, we aren’t in the city so it’s very comfortable for people here. Of course we don’t want another lockdown, it would be disastrous, we need people to come, to give us another try.”