One of the New Forest's 'most iconic' hotels is up for sale at £12.5 million
THE owners of a popular New Forest hotel say putting it on the market for £12.5m was a hard decision.
Chris and Alison Wilson have owned Brockenhurst’s Balmer Lawn hotel for nearly 26 years, and have now decided to retire.
Speaking to the A&T, Mr Wilson said: “It has been a hard decision, we love the hotel, but I’m 62 in a week's time and we feel now is the right time to hand it over to someone else.
“To be honest, when we first purchased it we didn’t realise how long we were going to be here!”
The 54-bedroom hotel, which was built as a private home and hunting lodge in the mid 1800s, is said by estate agents Knight Frank to rake in almost £5 million a year and has planning permission to create an additional 38 guest rooms.
Mr Wilson said he and Alison intend to go travelling but will still live in Brockenhurst: “We literally live a five minute drive from the hotel and we will 100% remain living in the village.
“But there are things we would like to do like travelling. My two youngest children are currently in South America and I was sat there thinking ‘I’d like to do that’.
“We’d also like a bit of a rest, the trouble with a hotel is that it never shuts. We have a great management team who run it brilliantly.
“But no matter where ever you are you can’t help wondering if the business is going to be okay."
The sale is being handled jointly by Knight Frank and independent hotel broker Simon Stevenson. Sales details describe the Balmer Lawn as "arguably one of the most iconic buildings in the New Forest".
Apart from the additional bedrooms the hotel also has planning permission to increase its function facilities to accommodate up to 250 people and enhance its spa.
Knight Frank says an outdoor bar and dining area called The Kitchen, built to enable the hotel to serve customers during the pandemic, has proved to be a “phenomenal success”.
Among famous guests to have stayed at the hotel are King George V, Winston Churchill and US General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
During the First World War it was commandeered as a field hospital and in the Second World War it became an army staff college.
After that, it became part of Myddleton Hotels which also owned the Royal Bath in Bournemouth.
The Wilsons bought it in October 1997. It has featured on TV in the series ‘Top Gear’ and on ‘Autumn Watch’
Mr Wilson says all the staff at the hotel have been informed of the sale and that their employment will continue under new ownership.
He said of the new possible owners: “We’ve had a lot of interest already. It is a great, iconic New Forest hotel and anyone would be proud to own it, or have it in their portfolio.”