Former Oceana Group Owners Relaunch New Forest Hotel

Main Photo: The Forest Park Country Hotel & Inn

Date: June 2019

Location: Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire, UK

Name: The Forest Park Country Hotel & Inn

No. of Keys: 38

Seller: A private builder…The group acquired the 42-bedroom hotel for approximately £4.5m and set about refurbishing it in 2018.

Buyer: Former Oceana Group owners (now eight hotels in Bournemouth) Kevin Wood, Brian Shone and Terry Taylor have turned their attention to the Forest Park hotel in Brockenhurst, Hampshire.

“It’s an old, historic property but everything in it is new,” said hotel director Wood, who is supported by general manager Glyn McQueen.

“We’d been looking in the New Forest because it’s a beautiful part of the world and we wanted to do something more refined and create a nice country hotel with a bit of a difference. We found the Forest Park; it was in a pretty bad state.”

The hotel reopened on 12 April 2019, following a £2.5m refurbishment, having been closed since January, which has seen the 19th century former vicarage given a complete renovation. AG interiors who originally designed Cumberland also oversaw the project.

Mateusz Nowatkowski is overseeing the food and beverage operations as executive chef, having previously worked at the Oceana Group’s Cumberland hotel as head chef. He joined from the W Hotel Barcelona, where he was head chef. Senior sous chef James Gunn trained at the Dorchester for three years.

“Food-wise we’ve just started our journey and we’ve got a long way to go with that,” said Wood, who confirmed they are looking to launch a fine dining menu in the autumn.

Future plans include a kitchen garden, a bicycle fleet, foraging expeditions, summer garden parties and retreats for corporate companies, however they are not planning to create another collection. Wood confirmed they would “possibly would look around” at hotels nearby but they are not looking at making Forest Park one of many.

The historic hotel has hosted dinner for Theodore Roosevelt in 1910 , and was the General Hospital for Indian & New Zealand military during the Great War 1914-1918.

Wood, Shone and Taylor sold the Oceana Group of three Bournemouth hotels for £16m back in 2015 to an unnamed Qatari company. The three-AA-starred group included the 114-bedroom Suncliff, the 107-bedroom Cumberland and the 62-bedroom Cliffeside.

Price: £4.5m plus £2.5m refurb – £7m

Price per Key: £184,211

THPT Comment: Great to see  a run-down hotel with stacks of history bought to back to life, in a stylish way.

First Seen: The Caterer

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