We caught up with Ben Young, general manager of The Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth, Cornwall. How long was the new look in the making? When did you first think about new concepts?
From inception to completion of the planning stages for all the projects it was around six months. We were keen to get it right, rather than just getting it done quickly. We were mindful to fully form the concepts, to an oven ready state. We felt the timing was right, after I’d run my first full summer season at the hotel and once I’d had the opportunity to understand the hotel, the people and its current place in the market.
Why did it need a revamp?
The hotel, although a successful 4 star, gave the distinct impression that its heyday was in the past. The building as it is over 400 years old and is one of the original founding buildings of the town. Over the years several conflicting looks and styles had evolved and to the modern eye it looked like a mismatch of different colour palates and eras – none of which were particularly sensitive, or in keeping with the rich heritage incumbent in the very walls. With some global instability and uncertainty we felt, more than ever, that today’s guests were looking for safe havens, and The Greenbank has been providing this for hundreds of years – we just needed to enhance our proposition and synchronize with the needs of today’s well-travelled guest.
Additionally over 20 years ago a well frequented locals pub in the hotels lower ground floor ceased trading after two hundred years. Knowing Falmouth and its people well, having had family involved in hotels locally for many years, I knew that there was very significant demand for the pub to be resurrected. I am proud of what’s been achieved and the pub is now, once again, a well-loved local community hub, as well as an authentic taste of Falmouth life for our hotel guests! We are delighted that today’s ferrymen use the pub, just as they did when it was first opened.
What was the inspiration behind the refurbishment?
Our location is jaw dropping, having worked on all the coasts of Cornwall over my career, I truly believe The Greenbank has a unique magic –perched right on the waters edge, I think it has something to do with the ever changing views across the water and across the town. We have tried to do justice to its unique sense of place and awe-inspiring location in all our improvements which sensitively reflect the deep natural beauty surrounding us.
What were some of the major challenges? How did you overcome them?
I knew the hotel had huge historical interest and significance to Falmouth so the improvements we sought to achieve, we’d have to be mindful of local considerations – we’re fortunate to have a great customer base of loyal guests and loyal locals who, over the years had come to view the hotel as ‘theirs’ – being respectful towards their own perceptions of what the hotel stood for was really critical. We’re very fortunate in having a supportive and positive customer base that helped steer our renovation decisions.
Where are you hoping to position the hotel now?
We‘re one of Cornwall’s most iconic and highest rated 4 star hotels - The Greenbank is the one of the counties oldest – The hotel origins predate the town itself. We believe that the Greenbank has such history - a soul, and whilst we are custodians, we owe it to the place that we sensitively preserve and enhance our guests experience making sure it is at the centre of decision-making. We intend to endlessly evolve the hotel in line with the changing requirements of the luxury market place whilst preserving and nurturing the unique sense of heritage and authenticity.
The length of the project: 9 months.
Cost of project was 500K