New hotel staffed by students is first in the country

AN INNOVATIVE development worth �10 million will see an historic Essex building transformed into the first working hotel in the country to be run and staffed by students.

Ambitious plans for the 18th century Wivenhoe House, on the Colchester Campus of the University of Essex, have been approved by Colchester Borough Council’s planning department.

The Wivenhoe House Hotel and Edge Hotel School, which is due to open in spring 2012, will operate as a training school for people in the hospitality industry as well as a fully functioning boutique hotel.

Led by the University of Essex, the development is also being funded by Edge, the independent education foundation which promotes vocational learning, and Colchester Institute.

The hotel will be staffed by about 60 students per year who will not be paid, but will receive subsidised accommodation and food on duty while gaining their degree-level qualification.

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Registrar of the University Dr Tony Rich said: “The Edge Hotel School will fully integrate theory and practice and allow students to draw on real-life commercial experience whilst gaining a degree level qualification.

“We are excited to be working with Edge and Colchester Institute on this important development both for the eastern region, which will gain a top quality hotel, and for the hospitality industry.”

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Edge president Sir Garry Hawkes said: “This is one of the most exciting developments in hospitality education for well over a generation.

“To be able to operate a fully functioning hotel with real members of the public staying, as well as providing both quality practical and vocational learning for the next generation of hospitality students is a great move forward for the industry.”

Colchester Borough Council granted planning permission and listed building consent for the development last week.

The Wivenhoe House development will see most of the 16 bedrooms becoming hotel suites and the dining room being converted into a restaurant.

The existing extension, built in the early 1980s, will be demolished and replaced by a new garden wing with 24 new rooms, a brasserie for up to 100 people and additional conference and meeting rooms. Building work is due to start in March next year.

Originally a Georgian family home, Wivenhoe House acted as an army camp during both World Wars and became the original headquarters of the University while the main campus was being built in the 1960s. Recently it has been used as a hotel and conference centre.

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