Warner buys Heythrop Park, Oxfordshire, UK

Date: December 2018

Location: Heythrop, Oxfordshire, UK

Name: Heythrop House – Crowne Plaza – to reopen 2020

No. of Keys: 300

Seller: Firoz Kassam and family, under the banner of Firoka Ltd. Owner of the Holiday Inn, Kings Cross and the Kassam Football Stadium in Oxford. Heythrop comprises a 153 room conference centre, with a 197 Crowne Plaza hotel that opened in 2010.

Buyer: Warner Leisure Hotels. The addition takes it’s portfolio of properties across the UK to 15.

The asset is set in parkland with more than 300 rooms, and its own golf course. The hotel currently operates as a Crowne Plaza, but the franchise agreement lapses this month.

Warner Leisure Hotels has acquired the Heythrop Park Resort as part of its planned expansion, this follows the group’s recent £50m transformation of Studley Castle in Warwickshire, also acquired from Kassam, which is set to open its doors in March 2019 taking its portfolio up to 15 hotels

Warner intends to commence the refurbishment of the hotel in 2019, opening its doors as a new Warner in 2020. Built in the 1700s by Charles Talbot, Heythrop Park is a Grade II-listed property that sits on 440 acres of parkland and an 18-hole championship golf course.

In 1922 the Provincial of the English Jesuit bought the house. They added to the house in 1924, and also built Talbot Hall, to provide a second chapel as well as further study bedrooms and classrooms.

In 1969, the Jesuits moved their seminary to London (still called Heythrop College) and sold Heythrop Park to NatWest Bank for use as a training college and conference centre.

One final remnant of the Jesuits ownership of Heythrop is the small cemetery situated on the first tee of the golf course – a spot that is still visited annually by the Jesuits.

In 2000, Heythrop Park was bought by Firoka – with the aim of restoring the house to its former glories and establishing one of the UK’s leading luxury hotel, golf and country clubs.

All state rooms and bedrooms in the manor house were refurbished to form a series of grand lounges and meeting rooms, as well as 17 luxury bedrooms. Then came renovation of the public areas and 160 further bedrooms.

In 2009, the Health Club and Spa opened alongside the championship 18-hole golf course, as part of a £50 million redevelopment program. A year later, Oxfordshire’s only Crowne Plaza Hotel opened at Heythrop – the first Crowne Plaza in the world to be built outside of a city centre or airport location.

THPT Comment: Firoz Kassam is one of the UK’s successful old-wave of Asian hoteliers dating back to the 1970s, and has done great to have built up Heythrop. Warner have built up a portfolio of superb hotels for their very unique, adult short-break holidays and packages.

First Seen: Hotel Analyst

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