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Torquay showman to stay on to give 'full Grosvenor Hotel experience'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: October 20, 2012

  • SOLD: From left, Keith and Fiona Richardson and Stephen Lofthouse at the Grosvenor Hotel. Above: Mark Jenkins Torquil MacLeod TQTM20121009B-001_C

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THE OUTLOOK for both staff and visitors at Torquay's most high-profile hotel is already changing.

With Mark Jenkins at the helm came a strong personality, a self-confessed showman, magnified 100 times through the lens of a television programme.

As the rain poured down and coach party guests loitered, the 'mount your dolphins' T-shirts were still for sale in the reception, as well as a mocked up front page of OK called 'Oi' with all the stars of The Hotel.

New owner Keith Richardson has established his own personality within his group, building it up from scratch over 40 years.

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But the life-sized cardboard cut-out that greets visitors who walk into his Grand Hotel has nothing on the five million TV viewers expected to watch the new series of The Hotel.

Some value of the Grosvenor in its present state is actually based on the publicity from the television series, and to that extent, Mark Jenkins.

In the short time I waited for the new boss to arrive, two cars stopped, wound down their windows, took a mobile phone photo, and drove off.

Keith has arranged for Mark Jenkins to stay on at The Hotel to give the people what they want, the full Grosvenor experience.

At the same time though improvements will be made in almost all aspects of the hotel to get it up to three-star status.

Richardson group's full-time upholsterer will be heading in, two painters have already arrived, a French polisher will be drafted in, and the rooms restored to their former glory.

The £200,000 marketing machine currently dealing with his four hotels will also be used for the Grosvenor, which currently can't take online bookings.

Mr Richardson said Mr Jenkins had to use all the income to keep afloat, with no reserves to invest in the future.

He is confident the publicity of The Hotel early next year will drive sales, even when it shows the business struggling.

The team from makers Dragonfly have been back again with their camera, as recently as this weekend. They have followed Keith in the full ballrooms of The Grand, and flown with him in his helicopter down to Falmouth.

Mr Richardson is hopeful that instead of leaving the impression it has closed, the documentary will see the hotel as 'saved' and that showman Mark Jenkins will be here, ready and waiting, to simply entertain the new guests.

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  • Eleanor1  |  March 07 2013, 2:11PM

    I agree with Walter. Do your own thing, Mark. You are so very good at it. I also agree that your staff took advantage of you. But such is life, sadly. And give my love to your Mum.

  • greetingcards  |  February 20 2013, 9:25PM

    Had to add my ten pence Mark I think you were wonderful the customers loved you BUT you were not strong enough to your staff you were to nice to them they just took advantage of you. Good luck whatever you decide to do! O Yes get your Bentley back you can do it.

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  • Walter  |  October 22 2012, 7:27PM

    Mark Jenkins we emplore you not to take the 'sideshow bob' role that has been so condescendingly bequethed upon you by the new owners. You are a true inspiration and deserve so much better than this. You see, it mattered not that the hotel had seen better days, that the shabby carpets and dated decor pervaded every room. You were the heart of the wonderful holiday experience you gave to each and every guest and you were real and true in your quest to make your hotel a sucess. Being a prop in a second rate hotel ibis will kill you. Take your own special brand of magic and use it in your next venture away from people who don't understand what star quality you truly brought to an otherwise depressing seaside town. Shame on you dragonfly for not paying Mark what he deserved for your documentary. If you had, this amazing man would have kept his livelihood and his home.

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