Top resort hotel gets new owner

FELIXSTOWE'S most well-known hotel has been sold.The previously family-owned Orwell Hotel has been sold to Ipswich businessman Richard Cattermole who has several other hotels in East Anglia and the UK.

FELIXSTOWE'S most well-known hotel has been sold.

The previously family-owned Orwell Hotel has been sold to Ipswich businessman Richard Cattermole who has several other hotels in East Anglia and the UK.

The news comes as the manager of a top Ipswich hotel also leaves –along with the hotel's peacocks - for pastures new.

The Orwell's name will be changed to Hotel Elizabeth Orwell and will mark the departure of the Gray family who owned the 58-room hotel for seven years.

A spokeswoman for Elizabeth Hotels, said: "Richard along with his fellow directors is delighted to be the new proud owner of the Orwell Hotel and to announce that Nick Button, the general manager of 28 years service to the hotel will be continuing in his role.

"It is Richard's intention to retain the high standards of service and to return the hotel to its former glory."

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Mr Cattermole said he did not want to disclose how much the company paid for the hotel but said he decided to buy a hotel in Felixstowe because it fitted in with the Elizabeth brand and was on the East Coast.

The father-of-three, who also owns the Limes Hotel in Needham Market, was rated the sixteenth richest person in Suffolk in the East Anglian Business magazine in 1997.

He said that one of the first changes on the agenda to update the four star hotel, since buying it on August 19, would be to redecorate the entrances and hallways.

His company, Elizabeth Hotels, are already advertising their newly acquired hotel on their website and hope to create a 'home from home atmosphere' with a concentration on comfort, character and quality.

Previous owners Don Gray, his family and manager Nick Button had vowed to keep the Elizabethan-style grand hotel traditional and elegant when they bought the hotel for around £2 million in 1995.

Also involved were Tim, Don's son, who was made a managing director and Jean, Don's wife. Tim's wife Jo, his nephew John and his wife Sue and his daughter Sally and her husband Bruce Monaghan-Gray were also part of the family team.

The Gray family have a 55-year history in Felixstowe as they set up a maritime services business more than half a century ago, which provided a range of services from tugboats to divers.

The news comes as Swallow Belstead Brook Hotel manager James Jude announced he is off to pastures new after five years.

This autumn he will take up a new role as manager of Manor of Groves in Hertfordshire. But the 36-year-old said Suffolk will always remain close to his heart.

"This is a great challenge for me and an opportunity I can not miss out on. I am very sad to be leaving as I have had some great times here and the staff are fantastic," he said.

When he makes the move to Hertfordshire James will remain living in Suffolk commuting back to the county he loves.

"I will be staying here for a while and spending a few nights in the hotel in Hertfordshire until I decide what is best to do.

"The new hotel is wonderful with a new leisure complex and lots for me to get my teeth stuck in to," he added.


Plans for the hotel were drawn up by Ipswich architect John Shewell Corder. It was owned, designed and built by the Hon D Tollemache.

When King George V learned of the death of Lord Kitchener as he arrived in Felixstowe in 1916 the first thing he did was hop off the train and telephone the Orwell Hotel to be informed of more detail.

Margaret Thatcher stayed there as Prime Minister in 1986 when the Tory party staged its annual central council conference.

Summer seasons in the town mean top showbiz stars and tennis players entering the resort's annual tournament have often stayed there.

Source: Evening Star files.