Hotel resort's bit of 'TLH' to secure golden future

Torbay Weekly

The owners of a complex of Torquay hotels have given the Bay a huge vote of confidence with a £1.5 million improvement programme making it fit for a bright future.

TLH Leisure Resort's latest addition to its award-winning facilities is a luxury spa experience which in itself has cost millions of pounds to complete.

Well-known and well-respected hotelier Laurence Murrell retired in 2018 after 40 years at the helm of the company. It was bought and  has since been run by former senior managers Jason Garside (now Chief Executive Officer), Ian Piercy (Chief Financial Officer) and John Finnegan (Chief Operating Officer).

With a string of investments - and a successful battle to survive the pandemic - they have seen the resort and its four hotels, the Derwent, Toorak Carlton and Victoria, go from strength to strength to become one of the most popular holiday destinations in the UK.

Jason says: "The three of us having purchased the business in 2018  had a five-year investment plan that we had embarked on in earnest. A little under two years later we found ourselves facing the impacts of Covid.

"Our priority during this time was our survival and how we might achieve this with as little impact on the individuals as possible.

"During this two-year, long journey we managed to retain most of our 400-plus strong team and although we lost people to other industries during the various lockdowns, we managed to retain most of our best people.  
"We navigated the pandemic well and as soon as we were permitted to trade we started to do so strongly.

"However, this was the most challenging time in our many combined years of hospitality, for us as a business and for the people who work for us.
"We have had to learn new ways of doing business, new ways of attracting and retaining people, new ways of looking after our customers. Although as a business we have always been willing to learn and adapted, we continue to do so at a pace I have never experienced in my working history.

"Although we are not unique in this respect, our size makes these challenges unique to us."

He adds: "Our business over the last 70 years has on occasion been likened to an oil tanker, taking time to change direction. We now need to manoeuvre like a much more agile vessel if we are to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.  
"There will of course continue to be bumps in the road, such as the new Covid variant and a dramatically changing employment landscape that we have all been thrusted into post lockdown, but we feel we are well placed to address these challenges."

TLH have appointed a new HR Manager and additional support services to make sure their teams are managed well and have further invested into our staff facilities and their terms of employment.
"We are excited to have a new Group General Manager who has joined us from the Warner Hotel Group with his focus firmly directed on improving our operations and the customer experience," said Jason.

"We believe we have a great product and more broadly we believe Torquay is a beautiful destination.

"The Bay has such a lot to offer, including its naturally inspiring landscape. This is easily forgotten or missed when you focus on its flaws and every seaside town has them.

"However as a city boy the spectacular landscape is never lost on me.
"It’s also great to see new hotels springing up all over the Bay with lots of inward investment. This will support much needed revenue for all manner of local businesses and will help generate new ones too."

He makes the point: "People often resist development in a desire to retain some sense of nostalgia, sometimes well-meaning and very occasionally for good reason. However like all seaside towns, ours needs investment if we are to keep attracting visitors and help keep  our youth in the area,  who are the lifeblood of any town, as without them one thing is certain and its not taxes.  
"This gives us confidence to invest and has set us on a path of rapid improvements for the current year and hopefully the year ahead to ensure we are in the best position.
"We know that we cannot stand still as a business if we are to succeed. It is also not lost on us that we support 400 local people and many local businesses that we are partnered with in trade. Our "1.5million investment this year will help us toward the continued success of the last 70 years."

The Aztec Spa Fire and Ice opened for the first time a couple of weeks ago.

The luxury thermal suite is the final part of a multi-million pound development and enhances the already popular five treatment room ELEMIS Spa and existing Aztec Leisure facilities.

Jason said: "We are immensely proud of this new facility and it confirms our commitment to the future of tourism in the Bay. We know the wellbeing sector is a huge growth area and our Fire & Ice thermal suite supports our desire to offer a holistic, relaxing and rejuvenating luxury experience both to our guests and the local market. Working with local architects and tradespeople from the initial concept, right through to the final build, we’re proud to say this new facility was made by local people, for local people."

The multisensory thermal suite is designed to stimulate all the senses. It is based on ancient bathing rituals where the body is treated using a series of hot and cooling experiences.

The suite includes an eight-person hydropool, herbal sauna, Finnish sauna, aroma steam room, drench bucket, ice fountain, thermal shower experience,  heated loungers and zen relaxation area.

A breakdown of the recent investment in TLH includes:

*£40,000 launch for new website (July, 2020)
* £150,000 new buffets within two restaurants, refurbishment of flooring and surrounding areas (Decembe,r 2020)
* £30,000 refurbishment of Albert’s bar -new flooring, seating and refurbished toilets (January,  2021)
* £20,000 new carpeting in the Derwent Hotel reception (December, 2020)
*£70,000 on new carpets in 120 bedrooms across the resort (November, 2020 to February, 2021)
* £25,000 New Aztec Bistro Canopy - extended weather proof outside dining area (July, 2020)
* £500,000 new spa (finalisation of a much larger multi million pound investment (April,  2021 to January, 2022)
* £40,000 soft furnishings at the Carlton Hotel (November 2021 to December, 2021)
* £575,000 bedroom and bathroom refurbishments across the resort (Septermber, 2021 to March 2022)

*£50,000 new fire alarm system at the Victoria Hotel (June, 2020)