A Black Country hotelier has given a new lease of life to one of Walsall's best known hotels.
The County Hotel on Birmingham Road has undergone a £600,000 refurbishment which has seen the upgrading of all the guest rooms, increasing the function and conferencing rooms to three as well as improving the kitchen, bar and reception areas.
The refurbishment comes three years after the hotel, situated just five minutes walk from the town centre and on the main route from Walsall into Birmingham, was purchased by local husband and wife team Ray and Anna Gilbert with the backing of Allied Irish Bank (GB).
The pair, born not too far from the town, bought the County Hotel for £1.25 million in 2004 and then the Beverley Hotel on Lichfield Road in Walsall in 2006.
Since then they have worked closely with the bank to improve both facilities and Ray hopes the latest refurbishment of the County will help it maintain its prominent reputation in the town.
He said: "The County Hotel is something of a landmark in Walsall and my wife and I have been working hard to ensure that it lives up to its potential since we took over the business three years ago. It is an extremely popular venue for all manner of events from weddings to Christmas parties to business conferences, but prior to the refurbishment it had reached the point where we were losing business because we just weren't big enough.
"With the backing of Allied Irish Bank (GB), which has given us unwavering support in our goal to create the best hotels in Walsall, we have now expanded the facilities at the County and we have some terrific plans for the Beverley in the near future, all of which I hope will put us in position to make 2008 our best year ever."
Patrick Barry, manager of corporate business at Allied Irish Bank (GB)'s North Birmingham branch at Wylde Green, said: "Ray has been a client of ours for over 20 years. Both he and Anna have shown themselves to be astute and committed. They both know the area well and when the opportunity arose to acquire the County and the Beverley hotels we were happy to back their vision.
"Since then they have worked extremely hard to improve both hotels."