The first phase of a multi-million pound refurbishment has begun at Blackwell Grange Hotel – one of the prized hotels in Darlington.
The hotel’s five-year remodelling and refurbishment plan is now under way, with a substantial amount of the work to be carried out in the first quarter of 2018. This initial phase will focus on the public areas of Blackwell Grange Hotel, including the main reception and lounge, three function suites and three bars; bringing new life to these historic areas in a more contemporary country house style.
A key element of these initial works is to enhance the sense of arrival to the hotel, which will include opening up the main driveway views and improved parking facilities. The landscaping will be upgraded with larger patio areas, taking greater advantage of the aspect and surroundings of Blackwell Grange.
Dawn Raine, who has been general manager at Blackwell since 2005, explained that “the investment will greatly enhance the Grade II listed building for the long term. At Blackwell Grange we believe that the hospitality business is first and foremost about people; that each stay should be treated as a unique experience for the guests. We can’t wait to give our beautiful hotel the restoration it deserves, and give Darlington a building of which it can be proud.”
Built in 1693 as a family home for industrialist, George Allan, the Grade II listed property stands within a wooded parkland which is about to be developed by Darlington Borough Council. The building was transformed into a hotel in 1970 and now features three function suites, 108 bedrooms, three bars, nine further function rooms, a restaurant and leisure facilities, including a swimming pool and gym.
“It was important to us to use local advisors for all the work as we don’t want the hotel’s character to be lost by those who don’t know its story”, Dawn explained.
Renovation of the historical building has been trusted to the experts at Darlington design practice, Niven Architects, who have extensive experience within the leisure and hospitality sectors. Director Simon Crowe, said: “As a local practice, we are excited to begin working with the team at the hotel, to restore Blackwell Grange Hotel to its former glory.
“This is an exceptional site and a great example of Georgian architecture, that sets the tone for the town and is a taste of some of the enviable history Darlington has to offer.
“People of the town have a real nostalgia when it comes to the hotel as it’s played a vital part in many lives, whether with weekly Sunday roasts, or big family weddings. We’re excited to help keep those memories alive, and give people an excuse to come back and make new ones”, Simon said.
Dawn, who has been a team leader at the hotel for over 20 years, continued: “On behalf of myself and the team we are delighted to see these restoration works take place. Over the past 20 years we have seen several changes in ownership and promises of refurbishment and finally it is happening. We are excited to showcase the plans to our loyal and new customers who I am sure will be delighted with the proposed changes. It is very exciting times for myself and the team and we look forward to welcoming guests old and new to the hotel.”
The exciting new interiors will be the work of Simon Bartlett, managing director at Simon Bartlett Interiors who explained: “The hotel is a magnificent building which is steeped in history and with that in mind, we have steered away from a modernistic approach and have instead looked at the classic features to revert this back to its former splendour.
“The design process on the hotel is to plan carefully to create the right design, deconstruct the finished article and put it all back together to create the perfect wedding and destination venue. This is a challenging project to renovate the existing structures, both inside and out, in collaboration with Niven Architects and the hotel’s new owners.
“Comfortable and aesthetic, the design will combine new and old grand design, such as plump upholstered seating with deep button fabrics, muted wall colours and vintage finishes; creating a classic, timeless design with plenty of atmosphere”, Simon Bartlett concluded.
After completion of the first phase, investment will continue in the refurbishment of the hotel’s leisure facilities and bedrooms with further works progressing in the first quarter of each year over the next five years.