Date: May 2018
Location: Hampshire, UK
Name: Heckfield Place – five star to open September 2018, originally planned to open April 2012!
No. of Keys: 46
Seller: 18th-century manor house, that used to be a training centre and wedding venue.
Buyer: Gerald Chan, billionaire owner of Morningside Group bought the property in the late 1990s.
Chan, originally from Hong Kong, is based in the US. He holds degrees in engineering, medical radiological physics, and radiation biology. Gerald and his brother Ronnie have a combined fortune of £2b, according to Hong Kong’s 50 Richest List published by Forbes.
Morningside, which continues to operate as a family-owned business, has investment interests in railroads, stone and tile manufacturers, machinery manufacturers and refined product tankers.
The 46-bedroom property’s main house will feature two restaurants – Marle, with a terrace overlooking the grounds, and Hearth, with a set menu cooked over an open fire for guests – as well as a Moon Bar, a 67-seater private cinema, a wine cellar, Morning Room and Drawing Room lounges, and Assembly Rooms and Dining Room event spaces.
Culinary director Skye Gyngell said: “Here it begins with the soil. Heckfield will feel like you’re being hugged – a feeling that’s in your plate of food.”
The hotel’s spa, the Little Bothy, will have five treatment rooms, steam and relaxation rooms, and three studios for personal training, yoga, pilates and ballet run in partnership with Bodyism.
Interiors, designed by Ben Thompson, are described as “inviting, organic and elegantly contemporary,” and “redefining the idea of a modern luxury hotel”, featuring salvaged stone and distressed walnut floors.
The furnishings include worn Persian carpets, wool upholstery and rush mats, and will also feature some of the owner’s family collection of British paintings.
The grounds will feature a two-bedroom cottage, two walled gardens (in which there will be a Sun House available for private dining), an orchard with more than 500 trees, greenhouses, and woodlands with parts of the original arboretum planted by William Wildsmith in the 19th century.
The hotel’s kitchen gardens and orchards will supply vegetables, fruits, honey and flowers for its rooms and restaurants, and there will also be a home farm practising bio-dynamic principles.
THPT Comment: To say that the owner has taken his time in getting the hotel right is an under-statement – which, if you can afford it, is not really an issue…better to get it 100% right than settle for second-best!
Olivia Richli, became GM in January 2018, after having held similar positions in luxury hotels in the Maldives, Venice and Sri Lanka, and following some good predecessors like Charles Oak and Henry & Char Gray
First Seen: The Caterer