One of Britain’s top hoteliers has been appointed by the Duke of Devonshire to head his luxury Yorkshire and Derbyshire hotel and restaurant group.
Simon Rhatigan, who transformed the Feversham Arms in Helmsley from pub to award-winning four-star hotel and spa retreat, will now oversee a portfolio of prestigious venues, including the Michelin-starred Burlington restaurant at Bolton Abbey’s Devonshire Arms, as the new managing director of the Devonshire Hotels group.
Mr Rhatigan, who has previously worked alongside French celebrity chef Raymond Blanc, was headhunted for the role, which he described as a privilege.
“It came about in a slightly fortuitous way. It was very flattering and in the end it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” he said.
As well as the Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey, Mr Rhatigan is now at the helm of two inns of the same name in Beeley and Pilsley, both within the Duke and Duchess’s Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire.
He also takes charge of the Cavendish Pavillion cafe at Bolton Abbey, the Devonshire Fell restaurant and hotel in the Wharfedale village of Burnsall, and the Cavendish Hotel on the Chatsworth estate.
“It is a beautifully looked-after group of properties. It is great to be part of their development,” he said.
One of his first tasks has been to appoint a new head chef at the Burlington restaurant, Adam Smith.
The 2012 Roux Scholar joins from The Ritz in London and will take up the post at the beginning of July.
“He’s a young chef with some quality experience who will be able to inject a new lease of life,” said Mr Rhatigan.
His future plans for the group include development of Devonshire Health Barn beauty spa at the Bolton Abbey site.
“I think we can do a really knockout spa and create something really beautiful there,” he said.
He added: “The Devonshire Fell, we’ll be looking at this year to give it more of a boutique feel, that’s something I’m looking forward to, and the two Devonshire Arms on the Chatsworth estate, we have got expansions in mind at those too.”
Mr Rhatigan bought the Feversham Arms in 2003, ploughing in significant investment to convert the 17-bedroom, three-star coaching inn into a 33-bedroom, four-star AA Hotel of the Year and award-winning spa.
Mr Rhatigan, who also formerly owned the Black Swan hotel in Helmsley, sold his shares in the Feversham Arms in 2011 following a divorce.
During his previous work with Raymond Blanc, Mr Rhatigan took charge of the development of the chef’s celebrated Le Manor aux Quat’ Saisons restaurant.
He also oversaw the opening of his Le Petit Blanc chain of brasseries – now renamed Brasserie Blanc – which has branches across the country, including a restaurant in Leeds.
As the former managing director of north-east luxury hotel group Tom’s Companies, he also developed The Samling, in Windermere, Cumbria; relaunched the Fisherman’s Lodge in Newcastle and opened the Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall, Durham.
Mr Rhatigan was working as a consultant for Bespoke Hotels –whose portfolio includes The New Ellington, Leeds, and the Sheffield Metropolitan – and planning his next business venture when he was approached for the role by headhunters for the Duke and Duchess, whom he described as “remarkably courteous” and very commercially aware.
“They are not merely absentee owners, they take a great interest in the business,” he said.
The Duke of Devonshire said: “We have been looking for someone with a proven track record, who could commit to our business 100 per cent and who will inject new ideas, working with us on new projects in the future.
“Simon’s experience at the top end of the hospitality industry will bring creativity and a new level of expertise.”