Plymouth’s famous Grade II listed Duke of Cornwall Hotel has been saved and staff will get their jobs back.
The Victorian building’s owner, Singapore-based The Fragrance Group, has signed a deal with leading hotel management company RBH, which has taken over operations with immediate effect.
The previous general manager, Peter Adams, has been appointed to the same post with the new company and it is intended that, over the coming weeks, a number of other staff from the 52 who were made redundant when the hotel closed in February 2021 will also be offered jobs with RBH – as soon as the hotel is permitted to re-open when Covid-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Mr Adams said: “It’s really fantastic news for the hotel and for the city. We received such positive support from the community when the hotel closed – people clearly do have a lot of affection for the hotel.
“The Fragrance Group have been very reactive and this shows their commitment to the hotel as an asset and an operational businesses. We can’t wait to reopen the doors and move forward.”
Mr Adams has a long association with the building, having first worked there at the age of 17 collecting glasses. He said: “It’s an incredible building. It’s survived two world wars – when Plymouth was decimated the hotel still stood. To this day it’s such an iconic meeting place and is considered as one of the finest examples of architecture in the city.”
The Duke of Cornwall was closed by the Bespoke Hotels group in February alongside three others in the chain: – The Lyndene and St Chads, both in Blackpool, and The Townhouse in Manchester.
The Cheshire based company said it had faced mounting costs due to the Covid pandemic and continued overheads and reached the point of no return despite every effort being made to continue trading.
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But all four hotels have been taken over by RBH with general managers given their old roles back and jobs saved. London-based RBH manages 45 hotels already in the UK, but has none in the South West.
RBH will be contacting previous guests and those who had booked weddings and events with Bespoke Hotels. They will be advised that compensation for existing bookings that were made with the previous operator will need to be managed directly with Bespoke Hotels or, if bookings were made on a credit card, directly with the credit card company.
Divisional Director for RBH Steven Foster said: “We have moved swiftly to re-employ the general managers to ensure the hotels are ready to re-open as soon as we’re allowed to do so.
“Exactly when we open will be dependent on the Government’s plans for lifting restrictions on the hospitality and leisure sector but we are optimistic that as we move towards summer, and with the roll-out of the vaccine programme, we can look forward to a very busy season, especially in the seaside resorts of Plymouth and Blackpool.”
He added: “We know that there are many guests who return year after year to these excellent hotels and we very much look forward to welcoming them back, alongside new visitors who are keen to explore new parts of Britain in this ‘staycation’ year. We aim to be ready to take bookings in the spring.”
The Fragrance Group’s UK representative Martin Rogers said: “Since discovering that Bespoke Hotels had effectively closed four of our hotels by making all staff redundant without warning on February 3, we have had an intense fortnight of discussions, culminating in an agreement with RBH who became the new operators of the Lyndene and St Chads in Blackpool, The Townhouse in Manchester and the Duke of Cornwall in Plymouth on February 18.”
Mr Rogers added: “We already have an established working relationship with RBH who operate one of our flagship hotels, The Crown in Harrogate, and we have every confidence that the four Fragrance hotels will thrive under their professional management.”