EXCLUSIVE: St Michael’s Manor sets its sights on UK expansion after owner’s local pub acquisition


St Michael’s Manor in St Albans is to become part of a portfolio of hospitality establishments after its general manager revealed to Boutique Hotelier plans to ramp up expansion and hunt for new sites.

The news comes after the four-star hotel, which was taken over by new owner Raj Gunputh in 2016, acquired local pub The Rose and Crown in February 2017, before closing the historic property for an eight-week refurbishment.

Now open for business, the new-look pub is ‘surpassing all expectations’, according to general manager Richard Marrett.

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Marrett returned to St Michael’s Manor last year for his second stint in the role, having previously worked under the Newling Ward ownership from March 2011 to October 2014.

He revealed exclusively to Boutique Hotelier that the hotel is currently going through a period of rolling renovation totalling over £100k, to freshen up the interiors of the property and in a bid to appeal to the younger generation.

A makeover of the property’s 30 bedrooms, which comprise of 22 in the main house and eight garden rooms, is now beginning.

The hotel is also pushing for its Lakes Restaurant to achieve 3 AA Rosette status – currently rated 2 AA Rosettes – and is investing in its kitchen and staff as a result, with a new food and beverage manager having just joined the brigade boasting experience with Gordon Ramsay.

A new head chef was also brought in last year from the local area.

Marrett says: “We want to bring back the drive and reignite the spark for the ambition of 3 AA Rosettes.”

The local community is of huge importance to St Michael’s Manor and he will continue to strengthen these links as the hotel grows.

“We recognise the part the hotel plays in the community, hosting weddings and meetings and events, and it’s vital to keep that going,” Marrett says. “Our reputation in the local area is so important to us and we want to build further on these foundations.”

With the hotel now going from strength to strength, Marrett revealed that following the acquisition of The Rose and Crown pub, which was a joint investment from owner of St Michael’s Manor Gunputh and Marrett, the pair are now actively seeking a new site and hope to secure something within the next 12 months.

“It’s great working with Raj,” he says, “and I’m really proud to be working with him. Now we want to grow our footprint and are looking at new sites all the time; it could be a pub, restaurant or hotel within St Albans. And while we want to grow, it’s important we do it without losing track of the business in the hotel and the pub.”

Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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