De Vere, a collection of country estate hotels and modern event spaces which is part of The Principal Hotel Company, officially launched last week following an investment of more than £100 million from Starwood Capital Group. This forms part of The Principal Hotel Company’s wider £300 million investment programme across the group’s 35 landmark UK properties.
Bringing together 22 properties, 662 event spaces, 1,200 acres of grounds and over 4,000 bedrooms, the re-launch celebrates an exciting new chapter for De Vere which sees historic, mansion house hotels extensively renovated to celebrate their British heritage and the estates’ natural landscapes. The portfolio includes five properties in central London, including De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden and De Vere Holborn Bars.
More than 1,000 people joined Laurie Nicol, Chief Operating Officer, at De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in Holborn, London, to celebrate the launch of the brand.
Laurie Nicol, COO, De Vere, commented: “We’ve got a fantastic team working on the transformation of De Vere, and our new-look brand is already receiving great feedback from both business and leisure guests. The £100m invested includes comprehensive hotel renovations, as well as staff training and development, and thoughtful expressions of the new brand such as Hunter wellies, unique sculptures and outdoor breakout spaces.”
She continued: “By restoring these stunning historical buildings and breathing new life into our event spaces, we’re creating inspirational locations where traditional values meet the latest luxuries.”
The investment in the estate’s grounds has formed a crucial element of the wider new-look De Vere brand. The external landscapes have been enhanced to ensure they offer guests beautiful and inspiring outdoor spaces that are a natural extension of the hotel. The Great Outdoors project has placed super-fast outdoor Wi-Fi up to 100m from the property, commissioned sculptures, created kitchen gardens and introduced bee hives and bug hotels to encourage native wildlife. In April 2017, Justin Turner, who previously held roles at the Royal Horticultural Society and Royal Botanical Gardens, was appointed to the newly created role of Head of Estate Management to oversee the implementation at De Vere’s country estates and modern event spaces.
A new coffee shop concept, Burr & Co. has been placed in a number of updated properties and will continue to be introduced to the portfolio over the coming months. The authentic design of Burr & Co. offers guests a relaxed space in which to break out from a meeting, collaborate with others or simply take a moment to relax whilst enjoying a selection of high quality coffee, tea, juices and soft drinks, plus artisan cakes, healthy snacks and pastries.
De Vere is also transforming its restaurants and bars through inspiring design, modern menus based on traditional British cooking and ingredients and extensive outdoor dining experiences. By partnering with Wendy Martinson OBE, the team has developed new and innovative conference menus as part of a ground-breaking initiative for the industry which will see De Vere properties now offer nutritional values for each dish along with menu items and ingredients that help promote energy level and concentration.
The company’s new meeting and events product, Smart Space, has also launched this month, which will execute meticulously crafted and unforgettable meetings and events through nine service features. These promise ease of booking; inspirational meeting rooms – be that a bright and contemporary training space or an executive boardroom with nods to the property’s heritage; a personal conference host; tech-savvy support; new Burr & Co. breakout areas; nutritionally balanced delegate menus; the group’s three existing rewards programmes – Applause Rewards, ShowTime Rewards and Trainers’ Club; inspiring outdoor spaces and access to a team of specialists to help ensure delegates get moving and remain motivated throughout the day. Smart Space will be available at many De Vere properties across the UK.
De Vere is celebrating its re-launch following a series of major renovations across the portfolio, including the completion of De Vere Wotton House, De Vere Latimer Estate and De Vere Tortworth Court, with further transformations to be unveiled in the coming months across De Vere Beaumont Estate, De Vere Wokefield Estate, De Vere Horsley Estate and more.
De Vere Wotton House (re-launched February 2017)
The spectacular 17th century De Vere Wotton House, located outside Dorking, Surrey, has been restored back to its country house mansion charms following a £6 million refurbishment. Nestled in 13 acres of stunning Grade II listed grounds, it boasts the first Italian garden designed by famous botanist John Evelyn (the inspiration for Crabtree & Evelynn) who lived at Wotton House in the 17th century.
The renovation created an additional 16 suites to the Mansion House, bringing the total number of rooms to 127, all featuring stylish en-suites and fantastic views of either the beautiful gardens or dramatic manor house entrance. The hotel’s restaurant and bar have also undergone a full refurbishment and have been relaunched as 1877 Restaurant & Bar.
De Vere Latimer Estate (re-launched June 2017)
Nicknamed The Spy House because of its connections with WWII, Grade I listed De Vere Latimer Estate completed a £7 million renovation which uncovered and restored many original features, as well as subtly celebrating the hotel’s connection to a secret history. Situated among Buckinghamshire’s rolling Chiltern Hills, De Vere Latimer Estate’s biggest transformation occurred in the mansion house with the conversion of meeting rooms and offices to 31 new deluxe rooms and suites to bring the total number of guestrooms to 205.
The investment has also included the new 1838 Restaurant & Bar, located in the Mansion House and featuring an open kitchen, as well as the historic Library, which features stunning views over the Chiltern Hills and serves a traditional afternoon tea.
De Vere Tortworth Court (re-launched July 2017)
One of Gloucestershire’s hidden countryside retreats, De Vere Tortworth Court completed a £5 million restoration that transformed meeting rooms into 11 new spacious suites, to bring the total number of guestrooms and suites in the main house to 55. The largest suite, The Kipling, includes a dining table for six guests and a lounge within 78 square metres that can be connected to The Paxton, to form a family suite that spans 129 square metres, overlooking the formal gardens. The Grade II listed Victorian mansion also boasts one of Britain’s finest arboretums with hundreds of rare and domestic trees located across the estate’s 30 acres.
Due to showcase their completed new looks in spring 2018, De Vere Wokefield Estate and De Vere Beaumont Estate will individually receive an investment of over £9m to renew both their mansion house and modern event spaces. New restaurants have already been introduced to both hotels, together with refreshed event spaces, including Wokefield’s executive centre, Wokefield Place, which completed this month following a major renovation project and features 30 flexible meeting and event spaces, a Burr & Co. Deli and 222 bedrooms.
In addition to De Vere, The Principal Hotel Company includes the PRINCIPAL brand of city-centre hotels based in landmark buildings. The brand recently launched its fourth hotel, The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square, formerly The Roxburghe and will be launching The Principal London later this year following a £70m refurbishment.