Suffolk hotel set to get new owners

A LONG-established Suffolk hotel could be heading for its 11th change of ownership or management in little more than 20 years following the appointment of administrators at its owner.

Duncan Brodie

A LONG-established Suffolk hotel could be heading for its 11th change of ownership or management in little more than 20 years following the appointment of administrators at its owner.

James Money and Anthony Spicer of recovery and restructuring specialists Smith & Williamson have been appointed joint administrators for Brentwood Hotels Ltd.

All the hotels owned by the group, including the Belstead Brook Hotel in Ipswich, are continuing to trade, but are likely to be sold.


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“A number of stakeholders are involved in the administration process of Brentwood Hotels Ltd and we are in discussion with all of them,” said Mr Money yesterday.

“We are just at the start of the process, but it is likely that, in due course, we will be looking to receiver expressions of interest in the purchase of the business.”

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The three-star Belstead Brook Hotel has 88 bedrooms and stands in nine acres of grounds alongside the stream from which it takes its name. It is based on a 16th Century hunting lodge although it has been extended substantially and also includes leisure and conference facilities, with a licence for weddings and civil ceremonies.

It has had an eventful history in the 21 years since it was sold by the Hatfield family, who acquired the property in 1956 and opened it as a hotel in 1962.

In 1988 the family sold the business to Europa Hotels & Leisure, which embarked upon a major expansion programme but went into receivership in 1991.

Ownership was transferred to Wimpole Hotels, a company set up as a turnaround vehicle for struggling hotels, with the management initially being taken over by the independent Suffolk-based Butterfly Hotel chain.

Control subsequently passed to East Anglian-based Manor Hotels, which in turn became part of the national Swallow Hotels chain, and just a year later, in 1999, Swallow was itself acquired by hotel and leisure giant Whitbread.

In 2003, having rebranded most of the properties under the Marriott or Renaissance identities, Whitbread put the 13 remaining Swallow hotels, including the Belstead Brook, up for sale. The freehold ownership and management again became split at this point, with the hotels being purchased by property company REIT and leased to London & Edinburgh Inns which acquired the Swallow brand.

When in 2006 London & Edinburgh went into administration, Crerar Hotels took over the Swallow brand and a total of 26 leases, including that of the Belstead Brook.

Last October, following the merger of REIT with fund management group F&C, formerly Foreign & Colonial, the Belstead Brook was one of nine Swallow Hotels offered for sale by specialist hospitality sector agent Christie & Co on behalf of F&C Reit Asset Management, a property investment company created through the merger.

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