The managing director of Llangoed Hall, near Brecon has revealed that in excess of £2 million is being invested in a refurbishment programme to bring the imposing property into the 21st century.
“It’s our intention to make Llangoed Hall the ultimate luxury country house hotel in Wales, if not Britain, and we shall be challenging for a major accolade within the next year,” said Calum Milne.
The investment includes the complete refurbishment of the hotel’s 23 bedrooms, although quality features, including Laura Ashley furniture from the days of previous owner, the late Sir Bernard Ashley, are being retained.
The hotel is being redecorated both internally and externally, new lighting and security systems have been installed, stained glass windows are being restored by a National Trust expert, the kitchen and restaurant have been upgraded and new carpets laid in the front hall.
Outside, the grounds are being manicured, the rose garden has been dug out and replaced with 120 tonnes of topsoil ready for the planting of 2,500 roses, the greenhouse has been refurbished and a new heating system installed ready for 10,000 plants and preparations are being made to house chickens, ducks and quails in the grounds.
The drive has been resurfaced at a cost of £400,000 and new flagpoles installed to fly the Welsh flag.
A new feature in the grounds has also been discovered during clearance works. Alongside the former drive, which closed 15 years ago, are ramparts and battlements of the original Llangoed Castle, which extend to around 300 yards. Lighting is being installed to make the ramparts, which have been repointed, a feature of the grounds.
Future plans for the refurbishment and development of the 15-acre Llangoed estate include the conversion of buildings into a wedding venue and spa facilities
Mr Milne, 40, who was recruited by Sir Bernard Ashley to run Llangoed Hall from April, 2004 to November, 2007, has returned to oversee the investment and is passionate about restoring the hotel to its former position at the top of the British hospitality industry.
In addition to the Grade II-listed hotel, which dates back to 1632, the estate has offices, a flat, a textile factory, warehouse space, storage, a shop, a helicopter hangar, a five-bedroom lodge and extensive car parking.
Llangoed Hall was purchased in July last year, having been in administration since November 2011 whilst under the ownership of Andrew Davis, a founder of now defunct Von Essen Hotels.
“We want to restore Llangoed Hall to how it was under Sir Bernard’s ownership: the epitome of a Welsh country house offering the finest Welsh food and customer service,” said Mr Milne.
“During my first time in charge, the hotel won a string of awards, including the most excellent country house hotel in Great Britain and Ireland in the prestigious Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence 2007.
“There is no doubt that the hall has suffered from a lack of investment in recent years but we intend to return it to its former glory.”
After leaving Llangoed Hall, Mr Milne went on to become general manager at Inverlochy Castle Hotel, Torlundy, Fort William, one of the top hotels in Europe, for 30 months and spent a further two years as general manager at Lower Slaughter Manor, another luxury country house hotel near Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds.
Llangoed Hall has an imposing Arts and Craft style and is one of the last Edwardian country houses to be built. The main house, which was constructed around the core of an earlier Jacobean dwelling, was one of the first major commissions by the distinguished architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis.
In the late 1980s, despite its illustrious history, the hall was in a parlous state and could easily have been demolished had it not been for the timely intervention of Sir Bernard Ashley who, following the death of his wife Laura, rescued the property with the clear vision of creating the ambiance of the Edwardian country house party.
After faithful restoration, sympathetic extension and furnishing with an eclectic mixture of antiques including works of art by Edwardian artists Walter Sickert, Augustus John and Rex Whistler, that vision has been realised.