Abersoch set for multi-million pound hospitality redevelopments
PUBLISHED: 10:49 29 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:49 29 June 2015
Cheshire-based writer Ray King has had a holiday home in Abersoch for more years than he cares to remember. He tells us about some exciting developments in this popular North Wales beauty spot
For more than a decade it has stood derelict, a dilapidated eyesore overlooking a glorious coastal view.
But soon, the former White House Hotel on the outskirts of Abersoch, its windows boarded-up and its overgrown gardens, is to be torn down and replaced by a new £7.8m spa hotel and luxury apartments. Planning permission, refused 16 months ago on the grounds that the developer’s offer of £150,000 towards the provision of affordable housing in the village was inadequate, was finally granted earlier this year to the delight of campaigners.
When the project was rejected, a Facebook page calling for a reversal of the decision was set up by locals and attracted over 1,000 supporters who believed that the prospect of 100 new jobs and an annual £1.5m boost to the economy should not be lost.
Jane McLean who heads the North Wales-based development company Broomco, said the new 42-bed hotel with 140-cover restaurant and bar, spa, indoor pool and gym and 18 apartments for sale on the upper floor would be ‘like no other in the country’.
Jane, whose family bought the land on the edge of one of Cheshire’s favourite Welsh resorts some years ago, added: ‘Whatever you want to see or do, The White House will be your perfect base from which to explore this fabulous region. Abersoch is already a unique and incredibly popular UK holiday destination. With the addition of The White House Hotel, Abersoch will now become a very attractive all-year-round destination for deluxe spa breaks with superb dining experiences.’
The panorama over Cardigan Bay encompasses the spectacular mountains of Snowdonia and the twin romantic St Tudwal’s Islands, East and West, the latter home to celebrity survivalist Bear Grylls and his family, surrounded by seas frequented by seals and dolphins.
New developments in Abersoch are really gathering pace. Aside from the White House project, the replacement of two other well-known but time-served hotels is in progress.
Demolition of the landmark Harbour Hotel, beside the bridge spanning the River Soch, to make way for Harbour Mews, ‘an exclusive development consisting of 12 contemporary new build designs’ marked the end of an era in the village. And the £3.5m project to replace the neighbouring Riverside Hotel with ten new homes, five apartments and a retail unit is also well under way.
Amid all these changes, however, one renowned beacon of hospitality, now in its 7th decade, continues to thrive. The Porth Tocyn Hotel high up on the headland two miles beyond the village and surrounded by wonderful gardens boasting stunning views, has been a destination for far longer than Abersoch has been a popular resort.
The charming country house, fashioned from a row of lead miners’ cottages, is in its 67th season this year, still privately owned by members of the same family. Nick Fletcher-Brewer, third generation of the family, runs a remarkable institution with his wife Louise and tells a fascinating tale.
‘My grandparents sailed these parts before the war and when my grandfather was injured in a road accident in 1940 he and my grandmother, a horticulturalist, left Wolverhampton and bought a market garden in Edern, across the peninsula near Nefyn. It was great - German and Italian prisoners of war did most of the work for them on the farm!’
Just after the war, using money inherited from Nick’s great-grandfather, who made his fortune as solicitor to the soap tycoon Lord Leverhulme at the time he set up Unilever, the couple bought a 40-acre farm at Porth Tocyn for £10,000 and opened the hotel in 1948.
Nick said: ‘Their idea was to re-establish the style of country house living they enjoyed in the inter war years for like-minded people. They must have been enormous snobs for the weekly lets were from Thursday to Thursday because they knew that the only people who could get away from work on a Thursday were well-to-do business types. And, of course, the only way of getting here was by car and there weren’t many around at that time.’
Nick himself now 61, says he originally had no intention of involving himself in the business but during his second year at Cambridge a family crisis saw him return to the hotel to help his mother and there he’s stayed.
The Porth Tocyn is as busy as it’s ever been, not least the restaurant where a combination of local ingredients, fine cooking and a country house dinner party ambience has seen its entry in the Good Food Guide maintained without a break for an astonishing 58 years.
Another significant anniversary being celebrated this summer is the 80th anniversary of the foundation, by Frank Minoprio, of Haulfryn Estates, owners of the Warren and several other parks around the Llyn Peninsula and elsewhere in the country. The family had discovered Abersoch on holiday in 1908 and bought a strip of land along the beach.
The Warren’s sales manager Chris Rose said new developments included a fingerprint recognition security system to enhance the park’s exclusivity for residents, a cluster of large four-bed lodges priced £350,000 in a gated community near the leisure club and a small estate of 12 super-sized 45ft three-bed lodges between the Warren and Tal-y-Fan parks.
He added: “Some of the new lodges feature technology so new that it has never before been seen in a holiday home. Many of the functions within the lodge can be controlled remotely from your iPhone before you even leave your house.’