Driving Direct Business At Foxhill Manor
The UK’s first ‘private house hotel’. A new concept for the UK, where there are no rules and every guest can eat what they want, where they want and when they want.
Foxhill Manor is an 8 bedroom, grade II listed, Cotswold stone house in its own grounds at the centre of the 400 acre Farncombe Estate.
Following a multi-million pound refurbishment in 2015, it started life as an exclusive use hire venue for weddings, corporate retreats and house parties. While initially being quite successful, the challenge with the ‘exclusive use only’ business model was securing enough events to warrant a full-time team to operate the business profitably and to the standard the owners required.
The decision was made to open up the business as a full-service hotel, while still continuing with events. The challenge set was to create something different that would stand out in a crowded marketplace for small luxury hotels in the English countryside.
- We started by looking at the five star country house hotel landscape in the UK and completed a comprehensive strategy review in terms of market positioning, brand, price, product and USPs.
- A key outcome was that, with some mild exceptions, most luxury hotels fundamentally do the same thing. They may execute it differently, but what's inherently the same are the rules that guests have to follow when staying – arrival and check in procedures, where you eat and drink and at what time, the menu etc.
- What if you could shake up the status quo and create a luxury experience entirely on the terms of the guest. Give them complete control and provide services to fit entirely around their needs and wants? That would be unique.
- A workshop was organised with key stakeholders to brainstorm the ‘anti-hotel’ based on likes and dislikes. We wanted to understand what it would look like if there were no rules.
- We built a product where there is no check-in, just arrive and have a glass of fizz in the lounge, the team will do the rest. There is no restaurant, every guest is invited to pop into the kitchen to speak to chef who will prepare a personal menu from a blackboard of what’s in season. Then choose where you want to eat your meal, in your room, in the cellar, in the media room, on the terrace, in the lounge. Then tell the staff what time you want to eat.
- We then created a team of ‘house managers’ who look after you, they will drive you to the pub and pick you up, deliver you your food, book a local attraction. We then included a bar for you to help yourself to and included it in the room rate. We made the cellar accessible to pop down and choose your tipple and rather than have a set mini-bar we put a fully stocked pantry on the first floor so guests can just help themselves whenever they like. We interpreted staying at Foxhill Manor as visiting a good friend at home.
- We came up with ‘private house hotel’ to summarise the experience.
- Has it worked? We like to think it has.
90% direct business
Achieving an average occupancy of at least 80% with an ADR in excess of £330
Over 85 days of exclusive use events annually
5/5 rating on Trip Advisor
Awards: The Caterer ‘Hoteliers top 100’ – Boutique Hotel of the Year winner for the last 3 years (2016, 2017 & 2018) / The Sunday Times best Hotel in the UK – 2015
If any of this hits the spot, we'd love to hear about your own Hotel(s) and have a no obligation chat.