New owner CCA Galleries International Ltd says it plans to reopen the St Helier hotel – which closed almost three years ago – in 2023 and offer a range of cultural and culinary activities on its ten-acre site, creating 40 jobs in the hospitality industry.
Visit Jersey’s chief executive, Amanda Burns, who was shown plans for the redevelopment of the hotel and its outlying buildings last week, said that the vision addressed the Island’s shortage of dedicated eco and self-catering accommodation. She added: ‘The bespoke art hotel will provide unique and authentic experiences for both Jersey residents and visitors, and will attract interest from potential guests looking for a destination hotel to visit.’
CCA Galleries International, whose print gallery is based in Hill Street, is shortly to make a planning application to refurbish the 39-bedroom hotel, creating seven self-catering units and six eco-pods, a spa and wellness centre, a cookery school and an associated restaurant.
In what the company’s chairman, Lance Trevellyan, described as an extension of CCA Galleries International, it is intended that the hotel and its gardens will showcase art and sculpture, and offer facilities for workshops and courses with visiting and local artists, some of whom have already agreed that rooms within the hotel can bear their names.
‘Our vision is to create a unique, exceptional five-star experience-based art hotel centred on and embracing the existing listed Millbrook House Villa, its buildings and heritage landscape. The ambition is to build an international reputation and become one of the jewels in the crown of Jersey’s hospitality sector,’ he said.
He described Millbrook House, which straddles the border between St Helier and St Lawrence in Rue de Trachy, as ‘a little gem with a wonderful history’ and said that they looked forward to bringing life back to the listed villa and some of the other distinctive buildings on the site.
‘I have a passion for listed buildings and, having bought Fort William and Royal Court Chambers and restored both, I just love regenerating and restoring buildings which, in many cases, could be said to be in terminal decline.’
He explained that the vision for the art hotel was predicated on their experience in the art world both in Jersey and in the UK. Its counterpart there – CCA Galleries – has more than 40 years’ experience specialising in limited-edition prints and fine-art original works. It runs London’s oldest print studio at Worton Hall, originally part of Isleworth Film Studios.
‘I believe that while things are uncertain now, in two years’ time with the vaccine roll-out and interest rates being so low, Jersey has a huge potential to promote the Island’s rich tourism attractions. I believe that Jersey will benefit hugely from a pick-up in business from the UK and also from Germany. People will probably stay closer to the UK and to the mainland of Europe, and may be less keen to venture to far-flung parts,’ Mr Trevellyan said.
Formerly a nursing home and a nursery school, the hotel and its grounds were commandeered during the Occupation – as a derelict carpentry workshop near the gate house still testifies. It is one of a number of ancillary buildings which would be restored or rebuilt.
Architect Tim Skudder said this would seek to maximise the potential of the villa’s original features remodelled in the Regency period, refurbish the 1970s hotel accommodation block and also bring into use cottages and a barn. Pre-application discussions have taken place with the Planning Department and it is hoped the 18-month programme of refurbishment will begin later this year.
Pictures: Pages 18 and 19 of today's JEP.