A look behind Bourne Leisure’s greater London expansion

Britain’s largest UK holiday operator, Bourne Leisure, recently announced it would continue to expand its Warner Leisure Hotels portfolio through its acquisition of The Runnymede on Thames Hotel. Warner is the only UK hotel chain to cater exclusively for adults, offering short breaks with great food and drink, spas and live music. Hotel Owner spoke to Simon Thompson, managing director of Warner Leisure Hotels, to get a look inside the expansion.

What drew you to adding the Runnymede on Thames to the Warner portfolio?

Initially it was the location. We wanted a hotel closer to London, with opportunities for guests to explore places such as Windsor, Ascot and Kew Gardens. The Runnymede on Thames is a great hotel, with stunning Thames River frontage, and already has 2 restaurants, a high quality spa, indoor and outdoor pool. It will make a great Warner hotel.

A hotel chain catering exclusively to adults is an interesting concept – what was the inspiration behind it?

We all love our kids and grandkids, and many holidays orientate around keeping the kids entertained. But sometimes it’s lovely to have a few days without the kids, and that’s where Warner fits in. Warner has been adult-only since the mid-90s. We also only offer leisure breaks – no meetings, conferences, or weddings – allowing us to focus solely on creating the perfect place to unwind without the kids. Our guests can expect great food and drinks, live music every night and a chance to relax and recharge.

What can we expect from the refurbished Heythrop Park?

We are really looking forward to opening Heythrop Park this summer – the only hotel in the Cotswolds exclusively for adults. We’ve invested over £40m to preserve the history of the 18th century building whilst adding modern luxuries; 337 bedrooms, a brand new spa, 3 restaurants, a theatre and live music venue, plus numerous bars and lounges. I think afternoon tea in the Manor House with views of the rolling countryside will be particularly popular! We’ve also got 440 acres of grounds for guests to explore and an 18-hole Bainbridge Championship golf course.

Are you optimistic that the UK domestic travel will remain strong in the wake of increased foreign travel? What makes the domestic market so appealing right now?

Millions of people enjoy holidays and short breaks in the UK, and I think the pandemic has reminded us all how much there is to see and do in the UK. The ease of being able to jump in the car or on a train and start your holiday within a couple of hours is part of the reason over 500,000 guests stay with us every year. That will grow as we open more hotels.

Beyond 2022, what are the future expansion plans for Warner Leisure Hotels?

Yes, we continue to seek opportunities for more Warner Hotels across the UK, meeting the demand from guests to explore new parts of the country. We’ve got a lot of experience of taking family-owned assets, investing in the facilities, and successfully re-opening under the Warner Brand. We opened Studley Castle in Warwickshire in 2019 after a significant investment in the property and facilities, and it has been hugely popular with both new and loyal guests. I am looking forward to Heythrop Park and The Runneymede being part of the Warner brand, and we plan to add more hotels to the portfolio in the future.

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