Valley Ridge Holdings, the developer of the site formerly known as ‘SnOasis’, a 284-acre site in Suffolk destined to become the UK’s next premium staycation resort, announces the appointment of two prominent industry veterans to help drive the development of the UK’s first-of-its-kind resort, offering all year round winter and water sports alongside best-in-class leisure and hotel facilities using sustainable, carbon-neutral infrastructure.
The project has been mooted since 2001 when the site was acquired, with planning permission applied for in 2004, It's fair to say that the overall scale of the plans with the colourful financial arrangements of a previous managing director found guilty by the High Court in February 2011 of wrongful trading has left a degree of scepticism as to the future of the project.
The new advisors, along with seems to be a change in emphasis from being the "home to 14 winter sports, the "world's largest" snow dome and the UK's first speed skate circuit" to merely building "a snow dome housing a range of winter sports facilities including one of the largest indoor ski slopes in the UK" might make both the aspirations and the development somewhat more realistic, though the renders suggest some interesting challenges ahead...
David Church and Robert B. Cook both join as Board Advisors and will support the Board with their extensive real estate and hospitality expertise. The two high-calibre appointments reflect the industry leadership aims of the developers of the newly-branded Valley Ridge resort.
David brings a wealth of expertise within the real estate and finance sectors and has advised on some of the UK's largest real estate and lodging transactions including the £1bn central London Grange Hotel deal in 2019. While Managing Director and Head of Real Estate and Lodging at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, David advised on the landmark £1.7bn sale of the Broadgate office and retail complex in London. He was also Managing Director at HFF, the real estate financial services firm having sold his own company to them in 2017.
Robert is the CEO of TGI Fridays Group and brings decades of experience in leading roles in the leisure and hotel industries. He was previously CEO of Virgin Active UK and has driven the development of a number of prominent hotel brands in the UK and Europe. This includes as CEO of De Vere Hotels where he led the development of De Vere Village Urban Resorts (now Village Club) and CEO of the critically acclaimed Malmaison hotel group, where he drove the development of both the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin brands.
The Valley Ridge resort, which is scheduled to open in 2023/24, will boast an extensive offering including a holiday park with a range of self-catering accommodation including eco-friendly wooden lodges, sports and retail facilities; a snow dome housing a range of winter sports facilities including one of the largest indoor ski slopes in the UK; a state-of-the-art water park, spa and cinema; a 350 key four-star hotel with conference facilities and an extensive food and beverage offering including bars, restaurants, cafes and a country club.
Valley Ridge will have a unique appeal in the UK leisure landscape and is expected to attract 1.4 million visitors annually given the surging popularity of the UK’s premium staycation market. Further growth in the market, currently valued at £24bn, is anticipated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project’s cost is estimated to be approximately £500m.
Cameron Ogden, Director of Valley Ridge Holdings, said: “The Valley Ridge resort will be a leader in its field and having David and Robert join the team is the best reflection of this. They are highly experienced in their fields and bring a stellar track record in delivering major projects. I look forward to working with them to create a vibrant new destination that caters for a wide range of modern needs.”
David Church, Board Advisor, said: “Valley Ridge represents a tremendous opportunity to create a very special destination, one of very few like it in the UK, in a supply-constrained market. I am very excited to support the Valley Ridge team on the delivery of this project and to lend my experience in real estate finance to the Board. Together we are building a resilient business that meets changing consumer demand.”
Robert B. Cook, Board Advisor, said: “The vision for Valley Ridge is that of a truly differentiated destination resort. The combination of sport, fitness and wellbeing coupled with a thoughtful and relevant culinary offering to suit all tastes is exceptional. The quality of accommodation and ease of access will ensure that Valley Ridge will become the go-to for UK staycations.”