Hoste Arms’ new spa is a lasting tribute to Burnham Market’s Paul

Late Norfolk hotelier Paul Whittome would have been 'bursting with pride' as his widow launched her latest business venture this week, according to one of his closest celebrity friends.

Television star Anneka Rice stood beside Jeanne Whittome in the centre of the Hoste Arms' new beauty spa in Burnham Market as she welcomed its first visitors.

It was the culmination of months of work which the widow began shortly before her husband's death from cancer in July 2010 after he suggested she throw herself into a new project.

As invited guests tried out treatments ranging from spray tans and pedicures to reflexology and ionisation, Miss Rice – known simply at Annie to Mr Whittome – said: 'Paul would have been beyond proud. Jeanne has created an oasis and I think that's a really lovely tribute to Paul.

'He would have been bursting with pride – I'm bursting with pride. The last few months have been so difficult.'

The spa will be open to both hotel guests and members of the public and the Hoste Arms chairman hopes it will be embraced by Burnham Market villagers, particularly the area's young people.

Mrs Whittome said she was amazed to see the transformation of the site, where building work began just three months ago, and said it now felt like it had 'always been there'.

Most Read

She said her showman husband, known as the unofficial mayor of Burnham Market, would have loved the thought of beautiful women visiting his hotel for treatments.

The South African, who met Mr Whittome 19 years ago while running a Norfolk travel agency, said: 'Paul would have been so proud today, knowing there will be a few massages in his room, and a few waxes.

'I know it's going to be a success and I hope everybody will support us.'

The spa, which has an open-plan treatment area for manicures, pedicures and make-up, has seen the Hoste Arms' offices transformed.

It includes Mr Whittome's former office which has become the largest of three treatment rooms, with two beds for couples or friends to lie side by side while getting a massage or body wrap.

Miss Rice said she had not seen the site since the larger-than-life hotelier's death. 'I was worried how I would feel walking in,' she said. 'But there is a such a calmness and spirituality about the place. It's filled with so much love.

'It's my go on Saturday. I'm booked in for the whole day.'

Mrs Whittome's children have also been heavily involved with the project – Natasha, who is studying architecture in London, drew up the plans, while Lauren's lingerie range Beautiful Bottoms will be sold at the spa.

A Japanese garden with hot tub will also be completed in the next month or two.

The venture will be run by spa directors Janet and Ali Ficarra, who are mother and daughter.