The Belfry is ‘‘back on the map as a serious venue’’ after years of uncertainty under the Quinn Group, new managing director Lynn Hood has said.
In her first interview since taking over the reins at the world-famous Midland luxury leisure complex, Ms Hood hailed a new dawn for the Belfry under its American owners.
And she pledged to do everything possible to bring golf’s blue riband, the Ryder Cup, back to the West Midlands for the first time since 2002.
Ms Hood stands at the forefront of a new era for the golf, hotel and conference complex in Wishaw, near Tamworth, following the sale of the 550-acre site in the summer.
Work on a major £30 million facelift will now begin in January after the Belfry was bought by KSL Capital Partners, which has appointed The De Vere Group to manage the property.
Ms Hood, who takes over from previous long-serving MD Nigel Gray, told the Post: “Our American owners are coming over next week to sign off the proposals. Everybody is willing us to make changes at the Belfry and bring it back to its former glory.
“There is such a lot of history and heritage here but it has needed a refurbishment and makeover. There is an awful lot of goodwill for the Belfry. It has a huge name – there is no-one who does not know what the Belfry is.
"It has an amazing history with its heritage of the Ryder Cup. It would be amazing to get the Ryder Cup back – I think it is booked to 2018, so it would post-2018.
"We have the infrastructure, we have the heritage, we have the experience. For the whole of the Midlands and beyond, it would be a great thing.
“But I think that the uncertainty of who our owners were going to be has now been resolved and we are now committed to the refurbishment.
“I think it is unfortunate what happened. The Quinns had big plans for the Belfry, which never came to fruition. Now our message here is that it is business as usual and welcome.
“We are very excited that the Belfry is back on the map as a serious venue following a period of uncertainty. The location is ideal near the motorway, the airport and Birmingham International Rail Station.”
Work will start in January on the first phase of redevelopment at a cost of £30 million, with a major revamp of golfing facilities, Sam’s Bar and other areas.
“We will be providing a new arrival zone for golfers. They will be able to sweep up in their cars and have a bit more of a retail experience.
"There is a superstore down there and there will be a redesign of that.”
Ms Hood said a second phase of refurbishment work was in the pipeline at a future stage, including improvement work to the Bel Air nightclub.
The 42-year-old, whose husband Robert and 19-month-old daughter Florence have joined her in the Midlands, has an array of experience in the hospitality industry after starting her career 20 years ago with Walt Disney in America.
Ms Hood has been general manager at Glasgow’s Malmaison and the City Inn where she was promoted to operations director and the board of directors.
During her six years at City Inn, she looked after a portfolio of hotels across the UK and was responsible for the opening of two four-star deluxe City Inn hotels in Manchester and Leeds.
Ms Hood joined The Belfry from Hotel Prosperity Limited which provided advice on all aspects of hotel operations.
The Belfry was put up for sale last December for an asking price of £70 million after racking up debts of a reported £105 million.
A £200 million facelift of the Belfry was unveiled in June 2007 aimed at creating the Midlands’ only five-star hotel but never got off the ground.