Picture perfect stay at the seaside – Make a date with Foresters Hall

Once guests arriving at boutique hotel Foresters Hall step beyond its simple front door a bigger picture unfolds, where scenes of deluxe décor worthy of any period drama are complimented by a courtyard garden and heated pool.

The Grade 11 listed townhouse, with 14 bedrooms and glorious sea views, is set in the picturesque old town of Cowes by the seaside on the Isle of Wight. And if its impact is cinematic that may be more than chance.

The owners, with plenty of experience of the world’s hotels and bars as customers, are film and TV industry executives Sara Curran and Peter Sussman, whose credits include royal hit The Favourite and Emmy-winning comedy Schitt’s Creek.

The hotel, then under a different name, had been their favourite cocktail hang-out on the island for some time after their globe-trotting lifestyle changed during lockdown.

Then it closed and was offered for sale and the couple’s chance to pursue a new adventure in hospitality arose as Sara, originally from Dublin and already living on the island, and Peter, from Canada, seized what they realised could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

As fans of food, wine, gardens and design – their own collection of contemporary artworks now decorates Foresters’ walls, it was the perfect canvas. Their hands-on presence means mornings often begin with making bowls of creamy porridge for guests’ breakfasts followed by some zoom calls to LA or London for their other Tricycle Media and Tricycle Talent businesses.

One bedroom is dedicated to celebrity guest Judi Dench and they chose the name Foresters Hall for the £2.5 million investment to honour the property’s heritage and links to a friendly society helping those in need.

But as a yachting mecca too, Cowes also attracts an international crowd, making the hotel a match made in heaven and a big draw for visitors from Europe, the US and Australia.

After a short opening spell in 2022 and then an upgrade, this year will be the first full one for the business which expects trade to grow 20 percent.

“Comfort and engagement are everywhere here,” says Sara. “We aim to be the nicest and most relaxing hotel on the island and we’re at the heart of Cowes which is full of independent boutique shops and cafes. Guests tell us how it feels like a home from home.

“The hotel was closed for six months before we came in and all our 25 staff are new save our wonderful, caring head of housekeeping who has returned after I spotted her one day in the town. I’ve a good memory for faces so this was very fortunate.

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“The demands setting up from scratch, especially the physical labour involved have been huge. It’s assembling a great team that has made it possible.”

Partnerships generating trade for other local businesses is also a big part of Foresters’ operation.

The island is renowned for its fresh produce – especially tomatoes – and restaurant group Smoking Lobster has now opened The Brasserie in the hotel featuring a Mediterranean menu and locally sourced seafood while Foresters offers 24 wines by the glass and the island’s own Mermaid craft gin.

Like many entrepreneurs helping to revive the UK’s hospitality sector the one thing Sara and Peter say would really make a difference would be for VAT to be reduced to 10 percent. Above all “it would enable us to lower prices for customers at a time when margins are tight”, they explain.

And it’s not just digital connections that have made it possible to base their operations on the island, improved transport links have too. After meetings on the mainland, Sara and Peter have come to love the fleeting sea crossing courtesy of Red Jet’s Hi Speed catamaran service from Southampton.

“Whooshing back up the Solent is the time when we can take a moment and relax,” they declare. “It’s all part of why we love living here.”


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