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The Big Interview with David Sims, GM/Director of Hawkstone Park Hotel, Shropshire

JodyP 1 November 2019
The Big Interview with David Sims, GM/Director of Hawkstone Park Hotel, Shropshire

Tell us the story of the hotel

Hawkstone’s history began in the 16th century when Sir Rowland Hill, the first protestant Lord Major of London, purchased the estate for £700. This started the family’s 340-year association with Hawkstone. During this time Richard Hill inherited the estate and begun transforming the grounds in to a woodland theme park with caves, crags, grottos, monuments and bridges. It became the one of the most visited landscapes in Britain during the 19th Century. Unfortunately by 1894, the last member of the Hill family to own Hawkstone was declared bankrupt and the fate of the hotel and grounds was uncertain. Thankfully in the years that followed, the hotel and grounds have prospered from significant investment and restoration.

Today, Hawkstone Park Hotel encompasses 400 acres of English Heritage Grade I listed landscape with the Follies, a contemporary hotel with 72 stylish en-suite rooms, three spectacular golf courses, a brand new modern restaurant, and a beauty offering. We are perfectly positioned in Shropshire for leisure and corporate bookings, commercial events and weddings. We are lucky to be part of the Interesting Hotels group, who have supported our growth with considerable investment in recent years.

What challenges have you faced since opening?

In the past we have faced the same challenges as other historic estates. The hotel and grounds have required significant investment, to not only restore them to what they once were, but to modernise the buildings and interior to a high standard to ensure our relevance in the marketplace and secure the future of the hotel.

There is more and more competition to contend with every year, so we consistently evolve our offering whilst retaining our high standards, to make sure we continue to attract new business. It can be challenging to strike the right balance of taking risks with new ideas, whilst also offering something that visitors really want.

Where are you spending the majority of your budget?

We are currently undergoing a £3 million investment, which has provided brand new rooms at the hotel and a new restaurant. These have been executed to a high spec to raise the profile of the business. We are also building a new golf centre from scratch, which will have its own pub. It is a huge transformation and it is fantastic to see these big developments come to fruition.

What are your future plans?

2020 will be a big year for us as we launch our new golf centre and pub. Our golf club turns 100 years old next year, which is a momentous milestone, and we are pleased we can tie it in to such a major development here at Hawkstone.

We will then be focusing on increasing our beauty offering by bringing in brand new leisure facilities and an extensive range of new treatments.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I chose the hospitality industry straight from leaving school, so I am doing what I wanted, albeit obviously the type of things I do now in this role are quite different from those early days.

How would you describe yourself?

Pretty calm really knowing all that goes on. I have to keep a level head and make good decisions.

If you weren’t a hotelier, what would you be doing?

I nearly went to drama school so I could have been a famous movie star!