This article has been submitted by leading food and travel journalist, Angela Youngman.
Rural Retreats and Leisure have announced major hotel investment plans in North Wales involving Seiont Manor and Plas Glynllifon.
Planning permission is being sought to refurbish and adapt Seiont Manor, its recently acquired hotel near Llanrug. Seiont Manor has attracted attention before – Anglina Jolie stayed here while filming Tomb Raider.
Paul Williams, Rural Retreats & Leisure director, says that they want to make Seiont Manor a destination venue in Snowdonia. It has already received a makeover with revamped menus but is now seeking to undertake a complete refurbishment.
“We want to extend the restaurant so that customers can enjoy the views over the lake, and build self contained lodges in the grounds. We have had 5 weddings already and 28 are booked for 2017. A function suite will be developed looking over the lake. The self contained lodges will encourage outdoor activities like fishing, archery, horse riding and we plan to build a grand conservatory around the swimming pool.”
Much bigger plans are scheduled for Glynllifon. The 102 room stately home near Caernarfon was once the home of Lord Newborough and was the site of an Investiture Ball held for the Prince of Wales following the ceremony in Caernarfon Castle in 1969. The Grade One listed Regency building was subsequently sold, and fell into severe disrepair.
Rural Retreats and Leisure plan to turn the house into a luxury hotel and spa. Sympathetic reconstruction work is now underway and is expected to take at least three years at an estimated cost of around £6m.
“The property is in a bad state but we have a passion for restoring buildings like this.”
The intention is to reinstate the building to its original state, creating around 50 rooms plus a museum on site. The Orangery will be turned into a brasserie and coffee lounge. Discussions are also underway with the local authority regarding management of the adjacent park, as Rural Retreats and Leisure would like to rejoin all parts of the original Plas Glynllifon estate. The task of reconstruction is aided by the fact that Plas Glynllifon is the best documented building of an estate on record.
Roof leaks have already been stopped, and decades of debris removed. Permission was given to remove the bat roost from the east to the western elevation of the north wing. Cameras have been fitted into the bat roost and the intention is to provide live feeds which guests can watch, as well as allowing the bats to be monitored by wildlife experts.
Rural Retreats & Leisure anticipate that once the hotel is finished, visitor numbers to the area will increase by 30,000 a year. These will not just be visitors staying at the hotel, but visitors visiting the park and the mansion. The intention is to become a facility for the local community as well.
Rural Retreats & Leisure is a rapidly growing hospitality management company based on the English/Welsh border. It won the Best New Start Up at the 2011 Powys Business Awards for its property The Knighton Hotel. Other properties include The Radnorshire Arms Hotel, Presteigne, and the Castle Inn, Wigmore in Herefordshire.
It states that it’s goal is to ‘become the best Independent Hospitality Provider in Wales, big enough to make a difference but still small enough to care for all our individual guests on a personal level. We intend to achieve this by concentrating on great food and first class service, delivered in properties with charm and character.’