Major wet room facility project planned for the Belfry
The Belfry has been well known down the years as a venue for major golfing events - including several Ryder Cups - and a conference centre. It's Bel Air Nightclub has also been famous, with plenty of celebs seen there down the years.
However, the Warwickshire venue is set for a major new makeover, just four years after over a million pounds was spent on renovating Bel Air, part of a £26 million revamp. Under plans unveiled by the resort's owners KSL Capital Partners, the complex is to undergo a major change in image and target market. Out will go the hedonism of Bel Air, and in its place will be a major new spa, which is being described as an 'indoor waterpark'. It will be designed by WTI, which has devised a number of similar facilities in the US, Europe and Australia.
The redevelopment of the complex as a spa resort will certainly mark a significant departure, and there will be substantial construction work involved, not least the extensive wet room waterproofing work that will be required to ensure the new facility is as watertight, long-lasting and luxurious as it will need to be for the clients using it.
It is not just the new spa and water park that features in the planned makeover, however; the conferencing facilities will be expanded to the point where up to 700 guests will be accommodated at the largest events, while the number of hotel rooms will be expanded from 320 to 442. Of these, 40 will be linked directly to the spa. That means there will be more waterproofing work to be done on the new en-suite showers.
Having spent so much on the last renovation so recently, the latest investment needs to be a success to justify the expenditure. The owners have placed responsibility for taking the project forward through the planning process and onto ultimate delivery in the hands of planning and development consultancy Lichfields. Its planning director Ian Kettlewell said: "These proposals encompass a substantial investment and overhaul of the existing resort and venue.
"The aim is to develop and improve on The Belfry’s current offering making the hotel and resort more attractive to families."
Indeed, as far back as 2007 the owners had been looking at a new plan that would change the image and offering at the Belfry, something the continued presence of Bel Air would be inimical to. While it has taken a decade to firm up a new vision, the new development will ensure the Belfry becomes the only five star hotel resort in the Midlands.
The expansion will also mean more jobs, as the staff headcount will rise by around 100 from the current 674. This may be one of the most encouraging aspects of the plans for local residents in Warwickshire and nearby Sutton Coldfield, and on May 10th representatives from the Belfry and Lichfields will be attending a meeting in the local village of Middleton to outline details of the plans and answer questions from residents.
It will mark a major new step in the history of the Belfry, which has achieved great fame as a Ryder Cup venue. After the Britain and Ireland team was expanded to include Europe, the venue became the scene of some famous encounters. The 1989 clash saw a 14-all draw, only the second in the Cup's history, which enabled Europe to retain the cup. They also won there in 1993 and 2002.
With a huge makeover on the way, however, the Belfry may eventually become better known for its spas than its pars.