Boss of pentahotels hails Ipswich as ‘up-and-coming’ destination following firm’s £2m investment

Lee Ryan and Simon Webbe of Blue join Alastair Thomann, centre, global managing director of pentahot

Lee Ryan and Simon Webbe of Blue join Alastair Thomann, centre, global managing director of pentahotels, at the opening of its newly refurbished hotel in Ipswich yesterday. Picture:Paul Nixon Photography - Credit: Archant

The boss of the company behind a £2m hotel refubishment project in Ipswich says he believes other operators within the sector will also invest in the “up-and-coming” town in the next few years.

German-managed pentahotels, part of the international hotel management company Rosewood, took over the former Ramada Encore hotel – in Ranelagh Road, close to Ipswich railway station – two years ago.

It has just completed a full refit of all 126 bedrooms and the public areas, and yesterday celebrated with a event featuring live music by two members of the band Blue and attended by guest celebrities of a number of popular TV shows.

The refurbishment has involved the roll-out of pentahotels’ “neighbourhood lifestyle concept”. A key feature of the new look is the open-plan ground floor, with the bar doubling as the reception desk.

Alastair Thomann, global managing director of pentahotels, said the aim was to attract local residents as well as business and leisure visitors, and to encourage guests to spend less time in their rooms.

However, in keeping with the hotel’s mixture of contemporary and retro, the bedrooms include six “player pad” suits which feature gaming equipment, ranging from table fooball and pinball to a Playstion4 and an updated Space Invaders machine.

Mr Thomann said the level of investment in the hotel was a measure of the company’s confidence in Ipswich and its economy.

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“We looked at quite a big portfolio of hotels to decide which would make the best long term investments,” he said. “Besides big cities we also look for up-and-coming destinations because that is where you get the biggest returns.”

Among the factors which attracted the company to Ipswich were the level of investment in the town’s Waterfronte and its buoyant business and techonology communities.

“Coming to Ipswich was always a no-brainer,” he added. “We knew we had to be in Ipswich because there is so much happening here, and relatively little hotel capacity in the mid-market sector.

“I am sure we will not be the last brand to come here and that other hotels will follow in the next few years.”

Other pentahotel locations in the UK include Birmingham, Derby, Inverness, Reading and Warrington, with an opening in London in the pipeline. In total, the company runs 27 hotels in seven countries across Europe and Asia.