Moreton Hall, a listed Georgian-style mansion in Warwickshire, could be transformed into a four-star ‘commercially designed’ boutique hotel, dedicated to training the next generation for a career in hospitality.
WCG (formerly Warwickshire College Group) is planning to create the new hotel which will train over 350 young people per year in the key skills, with the proposal ‘very well received’ by key industry figures.
Moreton Hall is owned by WCG but was badly damaged in a fire in 2008.
It has been repaired but plans for the training hotel include its full restoration, while maintaining its heritage features.
WCG – which hopes work will start next year – has held a series of industry show-rounds to raise support for the scheme which has attracted more than half the £9 million needed.
Angela Joyce, WCG CEO, said: “Our vision is providing hotel operators and visitor destinations with a pipeline of staff trained to the highest standard and at the same time establish the hotel, restaurant, hospitality and tourism sector as a long term, exciting and rewarding career choice
“It will be a “live” four-star boutique hotel using an iconic heritage building sustained by combining education and commercial enterprise.”
The Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting the scheme to a potential value of £4.1 million while the college has pledged £1 million.
The recent industry visits have been designed to raise awareness in sector.
Joyce added: “We have hosted delegations not only drawn from the regional business community, but also from the industry at a national level and we have been very encouraged by the response.
“The plans were very well received and everyone sees not only the logic of the scheme but also recognises the need there is for it to become reality.
“There is no question of the need for the training hotel and we are keen to build up a momentum of pressure from within the industry to attract funding from Government, trusts and other sources.
“We need to attract more funding in the next few months for the project to become a reality and we believe the UK industry needs it to succeed.”
The Moreton Hall Industry Advisory Board includes senior executives from The Eden Hotel Collection, Hand Picked Hotels, Legacy Hotels, Weston Park, Lovely Pubs and the Institute of Hospitality.
The training hotel will provide apprenticeships, T Levels and undergraduate degrees in a range of subjects including culinary, hospitality, heritage management, destination management, and tourism.
Joyce added: “We will appoint a dedicated team to run Moreton Hall and these staff will work alongside the teaching staff to support the students. The students will learn in a real working environment which is a model familiar to WCG as it is used in the operation of its working farm and other part of the College’s activity.
“Students will be recruited through a standard application process and Moreton Hall will provide a venue for students who are progressing to higher level qualifications. The Hall will also be a venue for businesses to upskill and retrain their existing staff.
“We are reaching out to all the hotel operators and are inviting them to be involved in a variety of ways, both in the Hall’s development and in its operation once it is open.”
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