Hotel on sale to ‘test the market’

The Grand Hotel
The Grand Hotel

HOTEL chiefs say it is business as usual for one of Hartlepool’s best-known landmarks which has gone up for sale.

An asking price of £2.5m has been put on the Best Western Grand Hotel.

But Keith Donkin, a director of Tavistock Leisure, which owns the hotel, told the Hartlepool Mail: “We want to stress that it is business as normal.”

He said the hotel was “performing well” and had been put up for sale to “test the market”.

Mr Donkin added: “We bought the Grand Hotel and invested £1m in it, and got it into a strong position which it is now.

“The reason we have put it up for sale is to continue with the business model which is buying failing sites and refurbishing them, selling them on and moving on to the next one.

“I want to stress that it is business as usual.

“The fact that the hotel is performing so well is down to the staff. It is about everyone working together. We feel it is the right time to test the market.”

The sale is being handled by the Newcastle office of business agents, Christie and Co.

It has been instructed to market the hotel which, while owned by Tavistock, is operated under the Best Western banner under a franchise arrangement.

The 50-room hotel has an average occupancy of 72 per cent, say officials at Christie and Co, with that rising to close to 100 per cent on weekdays.

Christie and Co associate director Mark Worley, who is handling the sale, said: “This recently refurbished four-storey, three-star hotel produces a significant turnover and an equally impressive net profit.

“A forecast for 2012 shows an increase in turnover and a substantial increase in net profit. It has 50 rooms, all of which have en suite facilities and are presented to an excellent standard.”

The hotel also has a restaurant, bar, conference and banqueting facility as well as The Great Room, a ballroom which the agents described as “the most impressive room in the hotel”.

The imposing town centre building was constructed in 1899 and opened two years later, modelled on the style of a French chateau. It has hosted royalty. Princess Anne stayed there when she opened the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre in 1970.

Other famous guests have included Barbara Windsor, Geoffrey Boycott and David Bellamy.

The building was bought in 1912 by North Eastern Railway which later became British Transport Hotels, part of British Rail.

It was bought in 1983 by West Hartlepool Hotels, a subsidiary of one of the town’s oldest companies at the time, The West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Company.

In 1986, the Grand joined Consort, the UK’s largest group of independent hotels. Tavistock Leisure Ltd took over the hotel in 2007.

The Grand became part of the Best Western group in 2008, and was the third hotel owned by Tavistock Leisure Ltd to be accepted by Best Western.