It’s fair to say that a lot of boutique hotel operators pay lip service to technological advances and connectivity and then sometimes miss the mark when it comes to the simplest alterations. But there is no danger of that happening where Stephen Hargreaves and his Cranleigh Boutique brand are concerned.
Stephen’s whole ethos is based on providing guests a real ‘experience from the future’ and giving consumer complete control over their environment when they come stay. Dubbed the ‘next level of boutique accommodation’, Stephen made an impact on the traditional hotel market in the Lake District when he launched The Cranleigh Boutique in Windermere a decade ago. Since then the property has enjoyed consistent year-on-year growth and benefits from Stephen’s extensive knowledge of marketing and business acumen.
The Cranleigh Boutique’s strong year-round occupancy levels demonstrated the ‘futuristic’ model’s success and paved the way for the launch of The Hideout Boutique House in 2013 – complete with cinema room and cocktail-making equipment on request – and the third addition to the portfolio, the Church Suites in January 2015. Numerous awards won by the properties, encompassing both the social media and design spectrums, simply pay testament to Stephen’s striking business concept.
Each property brought a completely new style of accommodation to the Lake District and Stephen is hoping they will help change people’s perceptions of the area as a destination. But Stephen has no plans to restrict his ideas to the confines of the Lake District. He is fiercely ambitious and already wants to take the brand to key cities around the UK, including London. “I’d take the brand to where the money is,” explains Stephen, “it might be more Leeds, York, Edinburgh, Manchester; all those key cities. I think the Church Suites concept would go anywhere – there’s definitely nothing like it in London.”
As if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, at the end of last year Stephen’s next business venture came in the form of Cranleigh Marketing, a new project dedicated to helping wean hoteliers off the Online Travel Agents. This year will also see the launch of a trendy new bar from the Cranleigh empire, The Fizzy Tarte.