Date: January 2019
Location: Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, UK
Name: The George Hotel in Yarmouth – 3 red stars
No. of Keys: 17
Seller: Dame Dianne Thompson, a former chief executive of the UK’s National Lottery operator Camelot.
This magnificent building is steeped in history and was once home to the most noteworthy of the Island’s Governors, Sir Robert Holmes who often entertained King Charles II.
Buyer: Howard Spooner, a friend of the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry. He has vowed to turn the Isle of Wight into the St Tropez of the UK after swapping London nightclubs for a seaside hotel.
Howard Spooner, 48, vowed to “inject some fun” after taking over The George Hotel.
The entrepreneur, who counts the Duke of Sussex among his friends and had Prince Andrew as his childhood babysitter, plans to deck the 16th Century building out with a sauna, hot tubs and sunbeds.
Speaking from the poolside in Mauritius, where he is enjoying a mini-break with his family, he told The Daily Telegraph: “I think the Isle of Wight has got so much going for it and it’s such an amazing place to go to.
“When the sun’s out you won’t find anything like it, it’s absolutely stunning. At the moment it’s the best kept secret by retired people.
“There’s a lot of fun to be had there in the sunshine. But there’s not many decent food offers. I hope I can inject a bit of fun and liven it up a bit.”
He added: “There’s a couple of gastropubs and that’s really it – unless you go into one of the more modern marinas there’s all the chains, the All Bar Ones etc. It’s all much the same.
“There doesn’t appear to be anywhere like what I’m trying to do there.”
Mr Spooner was once a business partner of Guy Pelly, a childhood friend of the Duke of Sussex and his brother, the Duke of Cambridge. Mr Pelly is also the godfather of the Duke of Cambridge’s son, Louis.
He revealed that he is friendly with many members of the Royal Family, including the Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson and her ex-husband Prince Andrew – who used to babysit him when he was six.
“He was a really, really nice chap. When I proposed to my second wife in Verbier we bumped into Andrew and Fergie and the girls, and we were laughing and joking about how he was my babysitter.
“He would literally come in and help himself to my father’s beer. We didn’t know who he was to the next person, we were just told he was Prince Andrew. He was really nice. He read us the occasional story.”
Mr Spooner revealed that Mr Pelly introduced him to the Duke of Sussex when the business partners opened the Public nightclub in Chelsea together.
“I would honestly say he was probably our best customer,” he said. “We had really fun times. I was just divorced, Pelly was single and Harry was single and it was just a lot of fun – a lot of skiing and a lot of partying.”
Mr Spooner owns The Clapham Grand in south west London and has run a string of nightclubs across the capital – a far cry from The George, for which he has secured a three-year lease.
“I wanted a beach club in St Tropez or something like that and I’ve toyed with that and dabbled with that over the last 10 to 15 years, but I decided that, actually, on our doorstep is treasure,” he said.
“I looked at it and thought ‘this has got it’.”
THPT Comment: OK if you have been to the IoW (Isle of Wight) you will know turning it into St Tropez and being real don’t appear in the same sentence…there’s a small matter of sunshine for starters!
First Seen: The UK’s Daily Telegraph
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