AS Bournemouth’s hotels start to emerge from the latest Covid lockdown, visitors should notice millions of pounds’ worth of difference.

The eye-catching announcement of recent days was the news that the Savoy Hotel on the West Cliff had been bought by hotelier Nicolas Roach.

The Christchurch-based chairman of the Nicolas James Group said the business had submitted plans for a £20milion redevelopment.

Mr Roach, who built the Harbour Hotels brand, said the plan would create a five-star hotel with 100 bedrooms, as well as a spa and wellness club, rooftop and garden restaurants, alongside residential apartments.

Bournemouth hotel The Savoy bought by Nicolas James Group

The news has gone down well in the industry.

Simon Scarborough, a Bournemouth-based consultant to the hospitality industry, believes the addition of a five-star hotel will boost the sector throughout the town.

“Everybody’s delighted,” he said.

“It will have an impact on rate – what we can charge – if we have more quality product here, more quality service. What I like personally is a nice variety of good quality choice of accommodation.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Tim Seward of BAHA

Tim Seward, chairman of BH Area Hospitality Association (BAHA), says a host of other hoteliers have been using the enforced pause of lockdown to get moving on their own refurbishment projects.

The Miramar has been refurbishing several floors of rooms. The Collingwood has improved around 20 bedrooms as part of a rolling refurbishment. The Marsham Court has refurbished its kitchen and balconies.

The group Nq2 has been refurbishing the Mercure Bournemouth Queens Hotel throughout. Oceana Hotels has been refurbishing the restaurant and rooms at the Suncliff. Nq2 and Oceana have jointly taken ownership of the Hotel Royale and are spending £2m refurbishing it as part of the Ibis Style brand.

Bournemouth hotel to undergo £2m refurb and reopen as town's first ibis Styles

“There’s lots of regeneration happening,” said Mr Seward.

“I think it’s really positive for the town.

“There are investors in the town. They see this as an area that’s been regenerating.”

He links this wave of investment to a sense that Bournemouth is on the up, citing redevelopment in the Holdenhurst Road area in particular. “I think it’s going to lift the area for quite a few years now,” he said.

Bournemouth Echo:

Rosie Radwell of the Marsham Court Hotel

Rosie Radwell, managing director of the family-owned Marsham Court Hotel, is among those who have been investing during the successive Covid lockdowns.

“We had essential works to the front of the hotel already planned which would have been done in five stages,” she said.

“It has actually been easier to complete these much-needed works while being closed and we also changed or refurbishment plans for the winter and completed a whole revamp of our kitchen too as there is no appropriate time for us to close our kitchen for two months.

“We have spent our time wisely and now can’t wait to open and show off our new balconies. The front of the hotel is now being unveiled gradually and we can’t wait to see the finale when all the scaffolding had been removed.”

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The town has lacked a five-star hotel since 2000, when the AA took away that accolade from the Royal Bath.

“We’ve missed a five-star hotel in Bournemouth,” said Mr Seward.

“The Savoy is going to be great for the town. It’s definitely going to lift the West Cliff area.”

Rosie Radwell added: “The Savoy is a great building and in an ideal place on the West Cliff.

“It needs much love which it will now get and I hope that this helps with promoting a better area. The West Cliff needs it and a lot of hoteliers will welcome all the refurbishment being done to this area.”

Hoteliers are facing the prospect of a busy summer, with millions of people holidaying in the UK when they would normally go abroad.

“I think there’s optimism for the summer,” said Simon Scarborough.

“A lot of people have invested in themselves. Marsham Court has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds and a lot of other places have spent money, realising they need to use this time constructively.”

Tim Seward predicted that, once people are clear what rules will apply, this summer will be like the trading months of 2020, “where the town just sold out”.

Meanwhile, BAHA itself is expanding and offering training for hotels as they gear up for reopening.

“We’ve got some great hotels now. Bournemouth is going form strength to strength,” he said.