£350,000 Upgrade To The Manor House Hotel

Issue 69

The Manor House Hotel in West Auckland, County Durham, reopens on 17th May following an extensive £350,000 refurbishment programme which has seen the creation of improved spa facilities including a heated indoor pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and new beauty therapy facilities to complement the fully equipped gym and relaxation areas.

Reputed to have been Henry VIII’s hunting lodge and home to the Eden family, the Grade I listed Manor House, sometimes also referred to as Auckland Old Hall or West Auckland Hall, continued as a family home until 1914 when the local vicar, Rev Lomax, turned the property into an orphanage before it was refurbished into a hotel. The site was also home to the famous West Auckland Brewery from 1840 to 1877 when it was taken over by the Cameron Brewery of West Hartlepool and finally ceased brewing in 1962. The hotel was purchased by STR Enterprises in 1997, as Managing Director of his family owned leisure group, Chris Sanderson, explained, “As a hospitality company, we’re interested in unique buildings whose potential hasn’t been realised for one reason or another but can be achieved with investment and great service. The Manor House had it all in abundance – an incredible building in a great location but a little run-down so it fitted all our criteria. We’ve been constantly upgrading and improving the building since we purchased it but decided to use the break in business that the Pandemic forced upon us to bring forward our investment programme to refurbish the 30 bedrooms, install a new plant room and completely upgrade the Spa to create an even better offer for our customers.” The location, just off the A68 running through the village, is not only on the heart of the superb County Durham rural landscape but also surrounded by local food producers, as Angela Thomas, Group Operations Manager, continued: “We have some of the country’s finest food producers right on our doorstep and try to use local and seasonal food wherever we can so that we can become almost a shop front for the local economy and plan to hold food fairs once we can get over the current restrictions later this year.” “Probably our main market is the wedding sector and we see the enhanced Spa as a great attraction for guests to enjoy our facilities before and after the actual ceremony in our historic King’s Hall – as part of this we’ve also redesigned the bridal suite to link via a private dining area to two other bedrooms where parents and in-laws can stay as another unique offering. It’s all about differentiating the Manor House from other venues and future plans include the possible provision of a second function area in a purposebuilt barn venue within the grounds.” “What’s also very exciting is the possibility of restarting brewing on site. We’ve had the original West Auckland Brewery well tested for quality and volume and are looking to begin discussions with brewers who are interested in reviving the famous brand.” The Hotel is also looking to boost employment back to its pre-Covid numbers of up to 60 fulltime staff and has already began recruitment for senior personnel. The STR Enterprises estate includes The Victoria Hotel, Bamburgh, The Honest Lawyer Hotel, Durham, Point Cottages in Bamburgh, The Quayside Exchange, Sunderland, The Centurion Bar in Newcastle and Centurion Park, Wallsend

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