Power List 2016: Market Marvels – Chris Ward, Farncombe Estate

Chris Ward edit

Since joining the business in 2013 Chris Ward has been the main creative force at the Farncombe Estate and has transformed the business into one of the most dynamic, forward thinking and talked about hospitality businesses in the UK.

With over 20 years’ experience Chris has worked at some of the finest hotels in the UK and abroad including Chewton Glen, Lime Wood, Cliveden House and Orient-Express (now Belmond).

In the last three years he has helped create three of the most compelling and successful boutique hotels in the UK.

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Key to all the Farncombe properties is the focus on the way they make you feel, combined with intuitive and friendly service. The Scandinavian-inspired design (taken from the estate’s owners), the lighting and ambience that ‘hugs’ you, the fun brand tone of voice – signs that say ‘please walk on the grass’ and ‘beware of the chef’ – and the attention to detail – tablets for booking milk, toy helicopters in the gents’ loos – are just some of the brand’s points of difference.

Chris says: “We know there is a lot to be learnt from the big boys who have been around for a long time and know what they are doing, but we are getting better every day. The best compliment is that a lot of people have said it’s like the Firmdale of the country, which is really nice, they are beautiful hotels.”

Farncombe Estate’s critically-acclaimed private house hotel, Foxhill Manor was the first of its kind when it opened in June 2014 and huge success came less than 12 months’ later when the hotel was voted the Sunday Times Hotel of the Year 2015.

The results for the Dormy House are equally as impressive having won countless awards including AA Hotel of the Year and Mr & Mrs Smith Best Spa Hotel.

The Fish Hotel is the latest creation to the portfolio and is a boutique hotel ‘with a difference’, boasting a relaxed and informal vibe.

Each business is at its own individual stage of development and is positioned differently within the marketplace, dictated by varying price points, but all three share the same strands of service DNA.

Ward’s enthusiasm and passion for his product is inspiring, and he is clearly the creative driving force behind a lot of the new ideas at Farncombe, helping to keep the business moving forward.



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