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Multi-million pound revamp for Brockenhurst hotel

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Forest Park Country Hotel in Brockenhurst has undergone a major refurbishment
Forest Park Country Hotel in Brockenhurst has undergone a major refurbishment

A BROCKENHURST hotel that once hosted former US President Theodore Roosevelt has undergone a major multi-million-pound refurbishment.

The Forest Park Country Hotel has been transformed into a destination country house with an eco-friendly ethos and a wish to promote and use locally sourced produce.

All its 42 bedrooms have been given a stylish refit and award-winning chefs have been brought in to complement its new restaurant and kitchens.

The lavish new design, developed with the help of Sue Mirco from AG interior design, features vintage fireplaces, Mulberry fabrics and tasteful artwork throughout.

In recent years, the hotel had become dilapidated, which belied its pedigree as a venue that threw a dinner for the 26th United States President Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.

Built in the 19th century to serve as a vicarage, the historic Tudor renaissance venue was also commandeered as part of the Lady Hardinge Hospital for Wounded Indian Soldiers during the First World War and fitted out as a medical facility.

Thanks to the revamp, the hotel can now host private functions, including corporate meetings and retreats and weddings.

The makeover has been overseen by new owners Kevin Wood, Brian Shone and Terry Taylor. They previously helmed the Oceana Hotel Group, which owned a number of seafront hotels in Bournemouth, including The Cumberland.

“We wanted to create the perfect country retreat for both locals and tourists,” said Kevin. “It’s both bold and tasteful and embodies the hotel’s central New Forest location.”

Notably, the team has brought in chef Mateusz Nowatkowski, who has spent years operating the two-rosette Ventana Grand Café at the Cumberland, to head up the kitchen. He also competed in the MasterChef television show and ran Michelin star operations in Europe.

Mateusz will be joined by senior sous chef James Gunn, who is local to the Forest and trained at London’s Dorchester Hotel.

With its local produce ethos, menus are based on modern British cuisine, using mainly local and British produce, including herbs from James’s New Forest garden.

Kevin added: “We have planned a soft opening with our popular Inn menu and Sunday roast, soon to be followed by a restaurant menu and traditional afternoon tea.”

The bar will also be keeping the local theme going by boasting its own Brock Gin and a Forest Park Ale, alongside an array of premium spirits, fine wines and mezcals.

Kevin was keen to stress the directors had social responsibility “high” on their priority list, so had incorporated multiple eco-friendly aspects into the refit.

The hotel is entirely LED light operated, gas has been removed from the kitchens and new boilers were more efficient. Sheets and towels are also cleaned using green products and all plastics have been removed from the bar.

“The focus of this much-loved hotel is to put it right at the heart of the forest, its people, its produce and its culture,” Kevin said.

“The hotels new website dedicates a header to the forest, and the fact that it’s a magical, ancient and historic place to slip away from the world. We plan to celebrate this with garden parties, and local food and drink events within the hotel and its grounds.

He added: “Beautifully presented meeting rooms are available for both leisure and corporate retreats, while private dining and weddings will be a feature of the hotel.”

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