Developers the Fragrance Group forge ahead with £140 million Torbay hotels plans

Martin Rogers, UK representative for the Fragrance Group

Martin Rogers, UK representative for the Fragrance Group - Credit: Archant

The Fragrance Group are forging ahead with their plans to build four new hotels in Torbay despite the pandemic

Demolition teams get to work at the Palace Hotel inTorquay Photos:Poppy Jakes Photography

Demolition teams get to work at the Palace Hotel inTorquay Photos:Poppy Jakes Photography - Credit: Archant

It is still full steam ahead for four new top hotels in Torbay and a £140 million massive vote of confidence in the English Riviera.

The Fragrance Group is forging ahead with its ground-breaking redevelopment plans despite the current virus and the huge blow it has dealt the Bay's tourism and hospitality industry.

Like the rest of the sector, Fragrance have hotels elsewhere in the country which have been closed and not been trading since the shutdown forced by the pandemic at the end of March.,

But the world-wide company, headed by Singapore billionaire James Koh, still believes Torbay has a great future.

Demolition work at the Palace Hotel in Torquay

Demolition work at the Palace Hotel in Torquay - Credit: Archant

Martin Rogers, their representative in the UK and who lives in the Bay, says: 'We are still very committed.'

A three-star, 161-bed hotel Mercure is already rising out of the ground at the site of the former Park Hotel on Paignton seafront. Next door, at what was once the Lighthouse entertainment venue, building work will start soon on a 115-bed hotel Ibis Styles both to be operated by the giant global Hotel company ACCOR.

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Demolition contractors will be shortly back at the former Corbyn Head overlooking Torquay seafront where a hotel with rooftop restaurant and bar and 152 rooms will be built.

And further demolition work is taking place at the old Palace Hotel in Babbacombe, Torquay, where a dazzling five-star, 248-bed hotel and resort spa with 38 residential houses are planned.

Mr Rogers says: 'We are not opening a hotel right at this moment. We are hoping to open a hotel in the early part of next year.

'Where will anybody want to holiday over the next five years? They will not be wanting to go abroad.

'Staycation is going to be 100 per cent the order of the day. People will holiday in the UK. I really believe that. It is not just pie in the sky. I have talked to other operators.

'We are actually still looking for opportunities in the UK.'

Mr Koh himself says he has every confidence in the hotel sector in the UK. 'Overseas travel will take many years to return to the level of 2019 and tourism/staycation in the UK will thrive'.

Fragrance already have hotels in Plymouth, Blackpool, Harrogate and Manchester.

'Coronavirus has killed trade. I have six trading hotels with Fragrance. They are not going to trade this year,' said Mr Rogers, who has worked in the sector for almost 50 years.

'This year there will be no summer.'

He said a budget-type business may work where meals like a breakfast box could be left outside guest's rooms.

'But if you have a traditional hotel and coaching hotels I do not think it can happen,' he said.

'I have clients talking to me virtually every day about the problems. I just think we are not going to get anywhere close to normality until next summer. Everybody is saying a proper summer could be three years away.

'But we have to prepare and there has to be liaison between the government and the tourism industry as to how we can back and open.'

The pandemic has delayed some of the works, but it is difficult to say by how much.

At the Palace a telecommunications mast for the emergency services has been moved to a temporary site and will be moved back once the new hotel is built. Asbestos is also being removed this week. Demolition should finish by September

The new hotel is already emerging in the site of the former Park Hotel on Paignton seafront. Work is progressing next door at Lighthouse venue.

Mr Rogers said: 'It is coming out of the ground at the Park. The Lighthouse next door will catch up.'

Demolition teams are back at the Corbyn. Technical drawings are being drawn up so the tender for the actual new building can go out. 'Consultants are working flat out with a view to going to tender in August,' said Mr Rogers.

It is hoped the Park will open next October followed shortly after by the Lighthouse.

The Spring of 2022 could see the Corbyn Head site finished. At the Palace building work should start with an opening scheduled for 2023.