Robin Hutson reveals The Pig plans, declares the time is right for independents

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Home grown hotels, Hotel

Robin Hutson has declared now is the time for independent hotels as he revealed new plans for The Pig boutique hotel brand
Robin Hutson has declared now is the time for independent hotels as he revealed new plans for The Pig boutique hotel brand
Hotel du Vin co-founder Robin Hutson has revealed he is close to exchanging contracts on a hotel in the South which will become the third venue under The Pig brand as expansion plans continue in a climate he says is 'right' for independents.

Lime Wood Group, the business Hutson chairs, currently operates two hotels in the New Forest as well as a hotel and chalets near Courchevel in France. One of the New Forest hotels, The Pig in Brockenhurst, is owned by Home Grown Hotels, a subsidiary of the group.

Earlier this month Huston announced he was planning to open a 12-bedroom B&B in Southampton which will also be operated by Home Grown Hotels under The Pig brand.

Exchange contracts

Speaking to BigHospitality, Hutson revealed the Southampton venue was a 'between projects project' as the hotelier remains firmly on the acquisition trail.

"We are about to exchange contracts on another full The Pig hotel. The plans for the concept's expansion are well under way. The one in Southampton will be The Pig in the Wall as it is sat in the middle of the old city walls, the original will become The Pig in the Forest and so it could be The Pig on the Downs or The Pig in the City next."

The Pig in the Wall first came about when an opportunity arose to acquire an adjacent property to a building the company already owned in the Hampshire city. The B&B will feature a 'shabby chic' design from Judy Hutson in a similar style to its Brockenhurst sister property.

Niche

The project forms an extension of the nearby New Forest offering where occupancy averages 90 per cent. Guests will be able to arrange a free transfer to eat in the hotels' restaurants including the new Angela Hartnett-led project at the Lime Wood Hotel​.

"There is certainly a bedroom requirement in Southampton and there is very little in the way of anything independent," Hutson said. "There are lots of big budget chains but there is a niche to be exploited. I don't think it is necessarily the start of another model for us but who knows."

The hotelier, who co-founded the Hotel du Vin chain with Gerard Basset, said the business expansion plans of one new venue a year​ would remain focused on full hotels where the F&B offering could drive a large percentage of the revenues.

Angela Hartnett

Huston revealed Hartnett had promised to devote a third of her time to the Lime Wood Hotel project. The hotelier also contributed to the recent debate on celebrity chefs within hotels​ by referencing Hartnett's former boss Gordon Ramsay.

"Every London hotel seems to have a named chef these days but there aren't too many in the countryside. I have always been a bit of a sceptic when it comes to celebrity chefs in hotels because there are many examples of them being done well and there are others done rather badly where someone puts their name over the door and never turns up and has very little interest."

“The classic example is when Gordon Ramsay expanded very fast in restaurants all over the world with his name attached but he hardly set foot in them," he added.

Time is right

At the Boutique Hotel Summit last month a number of hoteliers claimed hotel chains help push up standards in independent venues​. However Hutson denied the growth of chains investing in a boutique offering was of concern to independents.

"There has been a lot of the big brands trying to do boutique but generally they do it very badly because they can't quite help over-branding things. It is the idiosyncrasies and oddities that make the interesting independent hotel."

"The time is right at the moment for independents - and not just hotels. The small artisan food producers, the small hotels, the independent restaurants - they can differentiate. The people that seem to be struggling are the big chain restaurants and hotels that have a lot of bedroom stock or restaurant seats to fill and are finding it pretty tough," he concluded.

Related topics: Business, Venues, People, Hotels, Hotel Trends

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