A HISTORIC Northumberland hotel is being transformed into a fantastical, French-inspired chateau, complete with a stunning Mediterranean garden, as part of a plan to transform it into one of the country’s most original and exciting wedding venues.
The 27 bedroom Percy Arms Hotel at Otterburn closed in 2012 but was bought earlier this year by leisure entrepreneur, Duncan Fisher and his award-winning Northumberland leisure company, Newton Hall Northumberland Ltd.
And work will soon be underway to transform the hotel into Le Petit Chateau, a stylish and quirky venue which the owners promise will combine the look and feel of a French country manor house with a range of unusual features.
The plans include the creation of a spectacular Mediterranean garden with its own wedding terrace which will emulate those typically found in the grandest chateaux in the south of France, complete with palm trees, an antique fountain and lavender field.
It will include a wild meadow leading to a riverside setting where ceremonies can take place, along with a ballroom which will have floor to ceiling glass doors opening on to the garden.
When completed, the venue will be able to accommodate up to 160 guests for dinner and up to 200 for an evening reception, with 30 bedrooms also being created, some of which will have secret roof gardens and hot tubs.
Mr Fisher said the plans for the hotel would create “a venue that has never been seen anywhere else in the country.”
“This is a massively ambitious development which is totally unique,” he said.
“It is an incredible challenge to create a French chateau with breathtaking gardens in the middle of Northumberland but that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Mr Fisher is investing a “substantial amount” in developing Le Petit Chateau and promises that it will have the same high standards that have led to multi-award winning Newton Hall, its sister hotel, being voted one of the top five wedding venues in the country.
When completed, around 60 new jobs should be created, with the aim of recruiting entirely from the surrounding area to help boost the local economy.
“We already have 73 employees at Newton-by-the Sea where more than 95 per cent are from the immediate area,” said Duncan, who also heads up The Apartment Group, which owns a range of restaurants and bars across the North East.
The hope is that work on the site will begin towards the end of the year, with the first weddings taking place from April 2016.
Research carried out by Mr Fisher’s team shows that there are links between Northumberland and France, stretching back into history with the Percy family who first came to England from Normandy.
Mr Fisher expects Le Petit Chateau to follow in the footsteps of his other Northumberland properties and eventually attract the same level of national acclaim.
Newton Hall has already won two national wedding venue awards while The Joiners Arms gastro pub in Newton-by-the Sea was the first and only coaching inn in the county to be awarded five stars by Visit England.
“Anyone who has visited our other venues knows how high our standards are and they’ll see those same standards at Le Petit Chateau,” said Duncan.