Christie & Co brokers sale of two hotels to North East leisure operator The Apartment Group
North East leisure operator, The Apartment Group (TAG) has expanded its portfolio with the purchase of two County Durham hotel properties through specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co.
Whitworth Hall Hotel & Deer Park and Jersey Farm Country Hotel will join TAG’s portfolio of hotels, restaurants, bars and wedding venues located across the North East of England, with the company planning to invest millions of pounds at both sites to create Five-Star boutique hotels aimed at the leisure, wedding and corporate market.
Commenting on behalf of The Apartment Group, Chief Operating Officer Debrah Dhugga says: “The hospitality and leisure industry has been under a lot of strain as it deals with the current COVID-19 pandemic and our industry has seen many casualties. However, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are thrilled to welcome to the TAG family Whitworth Hall and The Jersey Farm Hotel and thank Christie & Co for helping us, once again, to find such ideal sites. We have a reputation for creating innovative and marketing leading venues, and I can assure you that both these hotels will be exactly that. We’re so excited!”
The sale of Jersey Farm Hotel, located just outside of Barnard Castle, was completed through Christie & Co in February this year. The hotel will be renamed Runa Farm, which is a derivative from the first two letters of RUral and NAture. It will be an intensely rustic inspired hotel, country pub and wedding venue quite unlike any other, combining natural rural beauty with cool Balearic vibes to deliver something wholly unique.
Dhugga says, “It is our plan to create an individual and special destination for “boho, honest and earthy” experiences, with the farm and its produce at the very heart. As well as laid-back and luxurious standout bedrooms and suites, you will also find cool glamping at Runa Farm, courtesy of the fabulous Shepherd’s Huts and Pig Houses, intended for guests looking to spend time learning about nature, life on the farm and each other.”
The more recent purchase of Whitworth Hall & Deer Park was completed through Christie & Co in September. The hotel site is located only seven miles from Durham city, and is a beautiful Grade II listed stately mansion. Considered Durham’s best kept secret, the hall sits within its own private deer park which has been a feature of the Hall for over 300 years.
The property dates back to the mid-17th Century and was the ancestral home of the Shafto family. Robert (Bobby) Shafto, a British politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1760–1790, and was immortalised in a famous North East English folk song and nursery rhyme "Bobby Shafto's Gone to Sea", resided in the hall during the mid-1700’s. The mansion remained a country residence until the late 20th century when it was converted into a hotel.
Dhugga says: “Our plans for Whitworth Hall are completely different to Runa Farm. Where Runa Farm will be luxurious boho and earthy, Whitworth will be an excess of opulence, sophistication and glamour, with a Chapel, ballroom, and bedroom suites like nothing else in the UK.”
The sales were completed by Mark Worley, Director at Christie & Co. He adds, “We are delighted to have sold these wonderful sites to The Apartment Group, continuing the long and successful relationship between our two firms. The sales point to the healthy demand for hospitality businesses in the north east region at present, particularly those which are able to host weddings and which are reliant on leisure-based trade. The foreign travel restrictions imposed upon us all, have benefitted the domestic pub and hotel industry and as wedding income has been pushed into next year and beyond, hospitality buyers can now see the financial appeal of purchasing this type of business.”
Runa Farm will be open at the end of 2020, with Whitworth Hall following on in early 2021, with both venues already taking bookings from brides eager to secure the best dates at these new venues.
Other sites in the group’s 12 venue collection which have seen prior success include the award-winning Northumberland hotels Newton Hall and Le Petit Chateau, as well as Newcastle venues As You Like It and The Holy Hobo.