Roger St Pierre sees a great Cotswold country house hotel take shapeIt’s not the money you spend that counts, it’s how you spend the money – a lesson that the local McIntosh family kept uppermost in mind when they decided to invest a hard earned £4m into the first two stages of an ambitious upgrade of their historic Tewkesbury Park country house property. Good taste and almost obsessive attention to detail have been key to the venture, transforming what had historically been something of a white elephant into a stand-out in an ever more competitive out of town luxury hotel market.
It’s still a work in progress. When we arrived the front of the hotel was shrouded in scaffolding and plastic sheeting. What could be seen as we entered the reception area looked tired and 70s dated. But wow! What a difference when we reached the stunningly luxurious Richard III Suite – definitely an all-time Top 10 favourite for us. And how about the spectacularly large wet room with its twin overhead shower heads, soft fluffy towels and generous toiletries?
Take a bow, interior designer Jane Clayton, a creative genius who side-steps stereotypical big chain hotel styling to create truly individual rooms that, along with the friendly and ever-attentive staff, make guests feel they are enjoying the heartfelt hospitality of well-to-do long-term friends rather than faceless travellers simply passing through.
Having become a hotel back in 1976, Tewkesbury Park had a chequered existence, passing through the books of several operators before the McIntosh clan assumed ownership in 2014.
The property stands on the southern edge of the black-and-white half-timbered Gloucestershire market town of Tewkesbury, astride a low, softly rounded hill at the top of an arrow-straight quarter-mile drive that is lined with the 18 holes and 163 acres of a beautifully sculpted par-73 parkland golf course. Visitors are presented with a stunning full 360-degree panorama that takes in the Cotswolds, the Malvern Hills and the foothills of the distant Welsh mountains.
It was on this very site that, in 1471, Edward IV’s ally, the Earl of Warwick – ‘The King Maker’ – and the ill-fated Richard III fought one of the defining battles of the bitter War of the Roses, which pitted the royal houses of York and Lancaster against each other.
The meeting facilities are comprehensive, with eight dedicated spaces, ranging from the lavishly equipped Roses Suite, which can cater 150 delegates theatre-style, to the brand new 50-capacity Orangery. Its opening, along with nine luxury suites, two meeting rooms and a plush cocktail lounge, completes the second phase of the extensive two-year renovation programme. The first phase saw all 85 guestrooms receive a complete refurbishment, featuring stylish new décor, ultra-comfortable Hypnos beds and 40-inch flat-screen TVs.
The new meeting rooms and all the suites are named after personalities from the 1471 battle.
The leisure facilities are also extensive. Golfers can use an academy course, a practice range, a putting green and a pro shop as well as the main 18-hole challenge, which is just 500 yards short of championship length.
New on the leisure front are two spa rooms, while the gym is being re-fitted with state-of-the-art Matrix weights. Other amenities include a large indoor pool, a sauna, steam room, croquet lawn and squash and tennis courts.