The hotel company, which acquired its third property this week, The Swan at Hay Hotel, has been actively seeking suitable sites in the UK to expand the business to, but Milne is clear he is not looking to create a chain.
“Seven is how many we want to have. That’s one day a week in each hotel for me. Any more than that and we’d be biting off more than we can chew,” he said.
“Each of our three hotels, so far, is run separately and self-sufficiently. We don’t want to create a Hilton-type brand. That doesn’t give you the personal touch in my view. However, there is certainly room for more growth.”
Despite being keen to expand, Milne told BigHospitality the biggest problem facing the company was finding suitable sites, especially when competing with foreign investors.
The hotelier said he had looked ‘high and low’ across the UK – from Scotland in the North, to Devon in the South and Suffolk in the East – but there was a shortage of options.
“I have done country house hotels for 27 years and finding the right properties is the hardest thing,” he said.
“They are few and far between. Many properties have disappeared and been split up into residential apartments or turned into care homes. Others are snapped up by investors from abroad. It’s tough.”
Although faced with the struggle to find properties, Milne is not being deterred in his efforts to further the success of Llangoed Limited.
The company’s first property Llangoed Hall, bought out of administration in 2012, turned over £2m last year and is up for a raft of awards. Sudbury House too, the Oxfordshire property acquired last year is also up for an AA award this month.
Milne attributes much of the company's success so far to its foodie credentials. The hotelier is proud of the fact the hotels grow their own vegetables and have retained passionate head chefs in Nick Brodie (Llangoed Hall) and Andrew Scott (Sudbury House).
"Our food offering is very important to us and we'll be working hard to create a good quality food offering at The Swan at Hay as we have done in our other hotels. It won't compete with Llangoed Hall, it will be a more relaxed type of dining, but the quality will be good," he said.
"We grow our own produce and I can get 86 per cent GP during the summer months because we use so much of our own produce. Growing your own is good business practice. I don’t understand why people use vegetables flown in from Peru. Air miles aside, the taste is just not the same."
Milne said as food and beverage was such an integral part of the hotel's business, it wouldn't work to follow advice of Jonathan Segal from the ONE Group and outsource it.
"It may work for him in some locations, but that will not work in rural mid-Wales where it’s a great destination to travel to and I'm not sure his company would want to come here. In my humble opinion, having that F&B option would work in a multi-national company. It wouldn't work for us."