Reviving the Georgian splendour of the historic Wivenhoe House to create a luxurious hotel and innovative hotel school in Colchester is the focus of £9 million-plus plans unveiled today.
This unique development will be the first of its kind in the UK, combining a fully operational country house hotel, refurbished to the highest standards, with the home of the Edge Hotel School. Returning the house back to something of its Georgian and Victorian finery, the refurbishment will reinstate the grand staircase and put the rooms back to their original uses.
Led by the University of Essex, the development has been made possible through the support of Edge, the independent education foundation dedicated to raising the stature of practical and vocational learning.
The hotel will be staffed by industry professionals who will be supervising, mentoring and leading the trainee managers, who will be students on work-based learning courses leading to university degrees. This new approach to vocational education, where theory and practice are integrated in the real environment of a fully operational hotel, will make this the first of its kind in the UK and one of only a few in the world.
Designed to prepare the future leaders of the hotel and hospitality industry, the hotel school is already attracting significant industry interest and support.
A planning application is now being submitted to Colchester Borough Council, with development work scheduled to start later this year. The hotel is planned to be open for guests by Easter 2012.
The Wivenhoe House refurbishment will include 16 bedrooms, most of them being hotel suites, the dining room which will become the hotel’s signature restaurant, and public rooms for meetings and for the use of hotel guests. The existing extension, built in the early 1980s, is planned for demolition to be replaced by a new garden wing with 24 new rooms, a brasserie for up to 100 people and additional conference and meeting rooms. The design will take the theme of a Victorian garden wall to join the house with the new garden wing. The original sunken garden will also be restored, allowing better views both of the house and from the house.
Professor Colin Riordan, Vice-Chancellor of the University, said: “This is an exciting project for the region. With the support of Edge, the University will provide a top quality hotel in Colchester while developing innovative new vocational education programmes.”
Professor Peter Jones MBE, Project Director, said: “Wivenhoe House Hotel will open a new era in hospitality management education, providing the country house hotel with the ‘Edge’. It will become a new food destination for the region, providing a unique venue for meetings, conferences and events, including weddings, where the service will be at the highest industry standards.”
Sir Garry Hawkes CBE, President of Edge, said: “This is one of the most exciting developments in hospitality education for well over a generation. A real hotel with real guests, where the trainee managers will learn all of the aspects of hotel and hospitality management by working alongside industry professionals at the highest standards makes the idea of ‘learning by doing’ a reality.”
Situated in Wivenhoe Park on the Colchester Campus of the University of Essex, Wivenhoe House has a long history and tradition, from being the Georgian family home of the Rebow family, to acting as army camps during both World Wars, including providing a base for the SAS. It became the original headquarters of the University while the main campus was being built in the 1960s, and subsequently became a hotel and conference centre.
Edge is an independent education foundation. It is dedicated to raising the stature of practical and vocational learning, so that all young people have the opportunity to achieve their potential, and the UK’s future workforce is equipped with the skills to be successful in the modern economy. Edge believes that ‘learning by doing’ is as important as academic learning, and that there are many paths to success. For more information, visit www.edge.co.uk.