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Renowned international hotelier acquires Cooden Beach site six months after Henley hotel takeover

Cooden Beach Hotel

Renowned international hotelier Grace Leo has acquired beachfront Cooden Beach Hotel in East Sussex off a guide price of £6.9m.

Leo has taken on the property with her Singapore-based partner, shipping entrepreneur and hotel investor Tim Hartnoll.

Their acquisition follows on from their recent purchase of The Red Lion Hotel in Henley-on-Thames less than six months ago.

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The Red Lion will reopen as The Relais Henley later this year after a full refurbishment programme overseen by Grace.

The daughter of a Hong Kong hotelier, Grace Leo has been involved in the hotel world all her life. After completing her education at Stanford and Cornell Universities in 1977, Grace Leo launched her career at Inter-Continental Hotels and Sheraton Group. She has since spearheaded iconic global projects, such as the Hotel Lancaster Paris, Warwick Hotels International and run the £400m conversion of the Ten Trinity square former Port of London Authority building, the capital’s second Four Season hotel.

The Cooden Beach Hotel was built in 1928 and comprises 41 bedrooms. It will now be given a completely new look.

Grace comments, “Once I had seen The Cooden Beach Hotel, I was in awe of its unique location and possibilities. I have developed upscale resort hotels in far-off destinations like St Barth’s, Mustique and St Jean Cap Ferrat, so my instinct says that there’s no reason why we can’t recreate that idyllic resort experience in a hotel that’s on the English coast, despite the cooler climate. Our plans are to create a haven for our guests to rest, relax and be nourished in a beautiful seaside setting.”

Grace’s partner, Tim Hartnoll, is the executive chairman of X-Press Feeders, part of the Sea Consortium group, a global shipping company based in Singapore.

Christie & Co acted for James Kimber in the sale of the hotel. James has owned and operated the property successfully for 16 years, having originally purchased the business through Christie & Co. 

Andrew Moore, Director in Christie & Co’s Hospitality team brokered the deal and adds: “The sale of The Cooden Beach Hotel represented a rare opportunity to acquire a hotel in an enviable location directly on the beach, owning the beach up to high tide, together with huge scope to increase the business still further. Such opportunities do not come along every day, so we received a high volume of interest from buyers hoping to capitalise on the ongoing UK staycation boom forecast to take place this year once COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are lifted.”

Tags : Christie + CoCooden BeachGrace LeoSussex
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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