Expanding the chain
Macdonalds Hotels & Resorts has an exciting year with major investments, developments and expansions
This year sees the completion of a number of exciting development and refurbishment projects at Macdonald Hotels and Resorts across the UK as the company’s extensive investment programme gains momentum, ensuring it is on course to secure its position as one of the UK’s top leisure and conference venue destinations.
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, which operates 48 well-located hotels across the UK and ten resorts throughout the UK and Spain, employs over 4400 staff and boasts in excess of 3900 bedrooms. With a focus on developing its strong portfolio of four and five-star hotels the Group is also passionate about the quality and provenance of its food.
Each of its hotels offers a unique menu using the finest seasonal ingredients meaning each dish is served to customers the way good food should be. From fresh wild fish and seafood to the best beef reared on natural Scottish pastures, crisp vegetables, freshly baked bread, pastries and exquisite desserts, all dishes are created with flair by teams of award winning chefs.
On the 26th January, the group completed a significant deal with the sale of 24 of its UK hotels to Moorfield Real Estate Fund for a price in excess of £400 million, a move that has enabled the Group to reduce its debt and create a platform from which to invest in the its portfolio and take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.
The Group has recently embarked on an extensive programme of investment and refurbishment that includes properties such as Macdonald Blossoms in Chester; Macdonald Old England in Windermere and Compleat Angler in Marlow. One of the oldest hotels in Chester, The Macdonald New Blossoms Hotel opened its doors again on the 4th April after undergoing a four-month long, £3 million investment programme to completely refurbish its 67 en-suite bedrooms, conference and meeting rooms, restaurant, lounge and cocktail bar.
Regional director, Debbie Johnson believes the investment has completely transformed the property: “We have decorated and added new bathrooms and modern furnishings including 23-inch LCD televisions, to the 67 executive and feature bedroom and suites, which have still retained their individual charm – there has been an inn on this site since 1410.
“All the leaded windows throughout the building have been sympathetically restored and repaired and our conference rooms have had the latest technology fitted to provide delegates with all the facilities they need.”
She added: “There has been a great deal of hard work but we are all delighted with the final results and I hope many of our new and old guests will pop into the hotel to have a look at the transformation that has taken place for themselves.”
Representing an investment of nearly £1 million, the Macdonald Compleat Angler completed a massive restaurant redesign in May 2007. The two new restaurants created, Dean Timpson at the Compleat Angler and Bowaters, replaced the Riverside Restaurant and Alfresco Brasserie.
Dean Timpson at the Compleat Angler is a joint venture between chef-patron Dean Timpson and the Macdonald Compleat Angler; the first time privately owned Macdonald Hotels & Resorts has entered into such an arrangement and a firm endorsement of their confidence in Timpson’s talent.
Dean has set his sights on improving on the existing three AA Rosette status (maintained since 2003) by taking cuisine to a new level. He said: “Achieving and maintaining our third rosette still gives me a buzz but I want to improve the quality of the food and service to such a degree that we achieve even higher accolades. This venture is the ideal platform for us to work to that goal.”
Dean Timpson at the Compleat Angler is an intimate 36-cover restaurant whose stunning aspect overlooks the River Thames and Marlow Weir. A striking décor in rich colours of intense purple, white and silver, has been created to enhance the historic polished oak panels and maple wood. Furniture, attractive as it is comfortable, and tableware are stylish and hint at the contemporary, whilst luxurious fabrics and opulent brocades combine to present a chic and sophisticated ambience that is cosy and welcoming.
Bowaters, named in honour of Sir Ian and Lady Bowater who owned the hotel (1932-1980), is a 90-cover restaurant replacing the Alfresco Brasserie, that also benefits from the wonderful riverside setting; al fresco dining in summer months, (weather permitting) is a bonus.
Mark Constable is the head chef for Bowaters, working with a team of 18, and he is also responsible for conference and banqueting operation for the hotel. He said: “I am steering clear of brasserie-style dining in favour of a great 21st Century restaurant where dining celebrates the best of British and is fun. Bowaters will complement Dean’s fine-dining restaurant, so much so that I hope guests and local residents will feel spoiled for choice.”
More than just investing in its portfolio, Macdonald Hotels has also invested £700,000 in the future of hospitality and created 30 new jobs with the launch of a new world-class education and training centre in Aviemore. Based at the Macdonald Aviemore Highland Resort, the centre will help combat the growing skills shortage within the industry, and is the first of its kind in the UK.
Headed up by managing director, Dr Craig Thompson who has trained many of the world’s upcoming hospitality managers during his five years as academic director of Swiss Education Group in Montreux – Switzerland’s largest provider of hospitality education – the Centre of Applied Tourism and Hospitality Management (CATHM) adopts the renowned Swiss hotel school model of applied learning.
The issue of hospitality training is crucial – there are currently in excess of 20,000 tourism vacancies waiting to be filled in the UK, and this situation is set to worsen as the industry grows and the country continues to attract major events such as the 2012 Olympics. Craig said: “Hospitality and tourism is crucial to the UK economy, employing nearly two million people – seven per cent of Britain’s total workforce and generating over £70 billion annually, but still many students choose it as a last resort. For some time the industry has recognised the answer must come from inspirational education centres, backed by the industry; I am delighted Macdonald Hotels has taken a bold and innovative step with the formation of CATHM.”
Macdonald Hotels & Resorts looks forward to its vibrant future with two new hotels – the Macdonald Portal Hotel & Spa will open in July 2007 on the site of the Portal Championship Golf Course in Tarporley, Cheshire; whilst the Macdonald Manchester Hotel, situated in the heart of the city centre adjacent to Piccadilly Station, will be launched in September 2007.