“Edging further forward” – Professor Peter Jones MBE

Dear Reader,

Please find the latest blog from Professor Peter Jones on the creation of the Edge Hotel School at Wivenhoe House – a project which is literally beginning to take shape…

Edging further forward

Last time I reported that we had the license to move the “bats” and I can now report that the bats are on the move. Since then much has been achieved in the building work and a fantastic space has been revealed where the “Grand Staircase” used to be before it was converted into public toilets!

It is back into this space that a new “Grand Staircase” will be built to restore the staircase hall to its intended and former glory. The competition to design and create an electrical glass installation to hang on the chandelier hook has been announced as part of an Edge initiative to foster and encourage young craftsmen and designers. We have also launched design competitions for a partner’s desk in the entrance hall to the hotel, some stonework for the sunken gardens and a very practical “sideboard” plus architectural feature for the Brasserie. The fashion design competition for the hotel uniforms is still on the drawing board and we hope to be able to launch that soon.

The photograph shows the bottom of the main staircase hall and the fantastic space for the new staircase and was taken last week at an event held at Wivenhoe House where we were able to brief our board members, patrons, sponsors and friends on the progress to date. In the photograph is Sir Garry Hawkes CBE, Professor Colin Riordan, the Vice Chancellor of University of Essex, Eamon Booth, the Managing Director of John Paul Construction all ably supported by Willy Bauer, Paul Milsom and other members of the company. The event was very successful and we were able to see how the building is beginning to shape and come alive into the grandeur that will be the Edge Hotel School and Wivenhoe House. We were also delighted to be able to welcome a number of potential industry partners to the event, including Exclusive Hotels, Elite Hotels, Rationale, Bibendum, as well as some existing partners, the Institute of Hospitality, Portico and BaxterStorey amongst others.

Our final “Roadshow” was held at the Hilton Park Lane and this time we were joined by Sir Garry as the Chairman of the Edge Hotel School Board. Again a well attended event and we were very pleased with the response from both the colleges and industry. We are currently planning another two roadshows one in the north of the country and one in the south, probably in late October or early November.

Some weeks ago Colchester Institute made the decision not to continue as a partner in the project deciding instead to concentrate on its own programmes on its main campus site. It would be appropriate to thank the Institute staff directly involved in the development to date in particular, Christian Norman, Sarah Warne, Louise Gill, and Martin Fordham. This change does not affect the courses and work is continuing with the University on the final stages of approval.

I’m sure it is true of any hotel development project that sometimes you feel as you’re making two steps forward and one step back, and this project is no exception. This is further complicated by dealing with the academic as well as the commercial issues in the development, you do reach a turning point though when you walk onto the site and you can see things happening before your very eyes. In some ways that is very reassuring but in others a little scary as the amount of work still to be done seems to be concentrated into a smaller and smaller time. By next spring we should be opening the doors on the first phase with a soft opening, the key staff will be in place, our sponsors will be seeing their names either on the doors or on the equipment and the first sets of students will be arriving for the unique distinction to be the first graduates of the Edge Hotel School.

For more information on this and any aspects of the Edge Hotel School please contact either Professor Peter Jones on pjones@edgehotelschool.ac.uk, mobile 07746826872 or Jane Samuels on jsamuels@edgehotelschool.ac.uk or 02079601542

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