A new hotel collection will launch to the market this month, curated by hospitality newcomers Nick and Charlotte Dent.
The Original Collection will initially consist of two properties out of a total eight that are owned by the couple – Widbrook Grange and Shieldaig Lodge – with a target of between 10 and 20 hotels to bring into the portfolio.
They also own The Kirkwall Hotel in Orkney, The Elephant in Pangbourne and The Ship Inn in Norfolk which is currently being converted into an inn with rooms by the sea.
The Boathouse, a relaxed eatery opposite Widbrook Grange is also owned by the pair.
Speaking exclusively to Boutique Hotelier, Nick and Charlotte said they have been spending the last few years fine-tuning the service and standards at each property, consolidating their assets and ensuring the offering is right, before officially launching the Collection to the public.
Now they have ambitious expansion plans to reach a maximum of 20 properties within the portfolio.
“I would have thought 20 to 22 properties would be the top end,” explains Nick, “if you’re spending max two weeks at each property per year – which is not a lot of time.
“It will be between 10 and 20 at the end of the day but who knows, for it to get to that it has to do really well. Because there are no other investors or backers, it’s just us.”
Charlotte adds: “We are very happy with what we have at the moment and we want to make sure we spend time getting them to where we want them to be. We’re not interested in further rapid development, it’s more about fine tuning and consolidating what we’ve got.”
With no boundaries on geographical expansion, the Dents look for buildings in places they love, rather than being restricted by easily-accessible locations.
The Collection is based on three core values – ‘creating a memorable experience’, which is ‘authentically crafted’ and ‘warmly delivered’.
The Collection has no shareholders and is funded solely by the Dents, giving them the ‘flexability of free reign’, with each property carefully acquired through a very ‘organic’ evolution process.
The Dents both come from careers outside of the hospitality industry, with Nick training as an economist and then helping to build up a telecoms business in the UAE, while Charlotte’s background is in the PR industry. Nick also runs a children’s entertainment company, which is responsible for the BAFTA award-winning show, Sarah and Duck.
The makings of the Original Collection began in 2014 with the opening of Widbrook Grange in Bradford-Upon-Avon, which was acquired by the Dents prior to their relocation back from the Middle East where they had been living for 15 years.
Soon after a former hunting lodge on a 26,000 acre estate in Scotland was snapped up and completely transformed into Shieldaig Lodge a few months later, to now mark the second hotel to join the Original Collection.