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Jobs saved as TV's The Hotel sold to Torquay's Grand boss in £1m deal

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 12, 2012

SOLD:   From left, Keith and Fiona Richardson and Stephen Lofthouse   Torquil MacLeod TQTM20121009B-001_C

SOLD: From left, Keith and Fiona Richardson and Stephen Lofthouse Torquil MacLeod TQTM20121009B-001_C

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THE Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay has been sold to Grand Hotel boss Keith Richardson in a deal worth around £1million.

Interest in the high-profile Belgrave Road business, featured in television series The Hotel, saw 2,200 inquiries when owner Mark Jenkins announced it was for sale last month.

It will now see a massive investment to bring it up to three star status with Mr Richardson promising: "I'll do what it takes."

The move has again be filmed for Channel 4 and will be screened next year in the second and final series of the programme. Mr Jenkins will be coming back as a 'host' at the hotel when the programme hits the airwaves.

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Mr Richardson said: "There is the impression that people want to come to this hotel to see Mark.

"Mark is a lovely guy — he's honest, decent and hard working. How many people in his position would still be like that?

"Now he has left this hotel with no money and no job. He is trying to build a new future for himself as a one-man show. Good luck to him, but he's going to need some money to keep himself going.

"What I have said to him is that I will pay him decently to come back and be a host. We have a deal where he will come and just chat to our customers. Every time I have been here, the guests just want to meet Mark."

The building will be brought up to three-star status and work has already begun on marketing, said Mr Richardson.

The hotel has been using coach parties to fill the rooms, but there will be a deliberate move away from that under the Richardson Hotels umbrella.

Apart from Mr Jenkins, the entire staff, who were told about the news at the start of the week, will be kept on in their same roles.

Mr Richardson said: "Last time the programme aired, the phone didn't stop ringing. They are expecting more viewers this time around. Five million is ten per cent of the population who have seen this place.

"A package of things attracted me to the hotel. It's a Victorian building and I like them, I've been buying them since 1963 and have an affinity for them.

"We will be putting the prices up when we have improved the quality. They have lovely staff, who are anxious to move it forward."

Bettesworths handled the sale which saw 2,200 people interested, 560 brochures sent out and round the clock viewings.

Director Stephen Lofthouse said he was delighted to have helped the new owners.

He said: "We always planned on using a bit of the famousness of the Grosvenor as the marketing push and that worked. We instantly got a lot of serious people.

"Everyone we spoke to had seen it on the television. And everyone saw that as a positive. With any property that is being marketed as a business, all advertising is good advertising to some degree."

Grant Thornton were appointed administrators of Torquay-based Riviera Hotels LLP, the limited liability partnership set up by Mr Jenkins last year.

It was formed after the voluntary liquidation of Inglewood Hotel Limited, the company which formerly ran the Inglewood, Kistor and Grosvenor hotels, which was placed into creditors voluntary liquidation last summer owing £900,000.

The Grosvenor was sold as a separate entity in this deal.

Bids are currently being looked at for the Inglewood and Kistor.

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  • scania  |  March 21 2013, 6:30PM

    I say Torquay need people like Mark. I popped in the Grosvenor this weekend with my wife for a pot of tea. It had about eight couples in the bar area,no one talking,just sitting looking at each other,how boring:( Yet if Mark was there the story would of been a bit different. BRING BACK MARK!!!!!

  • Walter  |  October 23 2012, 1:40PM

    Without wishing to be personal Wrathpaco, you seem to be making some very unpleasant comments which I hope you can substantiate, although I very much doubt it. Let me be absolutely clear, I most certainly am not a crony. The death of seaside resorts in this country is a particular cause of sadness to me as I have very fond memories of staying in places like Torquay as a child. I also admire enterprise and found Mark to be a charming and hardworking man who had had a run of very bad luck. He made our holiday truly memorable and I am saddened that I can no longer return to his hotel in future years as we had planned. We would never have holidayed in torquay if it wasn't for him and I imagine that many others will share this view.

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  • Walter  |  October 23 2012, 9:28AM

    Anybody can start companies. The benefit of a Limited liability company is precisely that. The liability is limited. Traders and business all know this and if Mr Jenkins was such a liability they should have taken due precaution to receive payment up front. The fact that they didn't is testimony to the fact that they believed in him. If he has raised finance through private mortgages then that is also testament to the fact that they also believed in him. They would no doubt have reaped the rewards if mark's endeavours had paid off and that was the risk that they took. You make no mention of the fact that mark created jobs for locals and genuine interest from tourists. Local business including the new owner will no doubt gain financially from the spectacle that dragonfly will create surrounding marks financial difficulties this summer when they air the new series of the hotel. Mark hasn't committed any crime. Enterprise sometimes doesn't work but if business don't try then there would be massive unemployment and that is the counterbalance. Let's stop beating up the underdog.

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  • Walter  |  October 22 2012, 10:19PM

    Well 'wrathpaco' why concern yourself with the facts when conjecture and Ill founded rumour will suffice. Just so you know, Mark worked from 6 am until at least midnight every night seven days a week to try and keep the hotel going. He was a dreamer granted, but what is so wrong with having a dream and ambition. He wasn't a fat cat banker - he really worked hard. He liked nice things but who doesn't. He didn't buy his car - he rented it. He wanted to make his mum proud. Why didn't the businesses of Torquay work together to utilise the potential fame he brought to the town? No, just like everyone in this country who dares to dream, who has the audacity to strive to achieve better he was maligned and ridiculed. What a terrible shame for Torquay.

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  • Walter  |  October 22 2012, 7:08PM

    At least mark tried. He lived for his hotel and worked tirelessly to try and make it work. Better than just putting his hands out for benefits like so many others in Torquay.

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