When Raithwaite Hall hotel in Sandsend fell into administration in 2015, it came as a huge shock to all. While liquidators KPMG kept the former Skelwith Leisure business trading when looking for a buyer, its legions of loyal customers feared for the future of the five star property and the surrounding estate.
Now, thanks to Yorkshire born Toby Hunter, the hotel is being refurbished and part of the 98 acre estate is about to be transformed into what will be Yorkshire’s most upmarket holiday village. Originally called in to advise on how to take the business forward, Berkshire-based Mr Hunter couldn’t resist buying what he knew was one of the most prestigious spots in God’s Own County.
“He saw the potential because he knew Sandsend as a child as he was born in York. He knows the village is in the same league as Rock in Cornwall and that those kinds of places are incredibly rare,” says his son and business partner Max Hunter.
Their company, Martine Capital, has invested its own money, along with that of investors and institutional funds, in a variety of commercial and residential property projects and its track record looks impressive. It has hit the ground running on the Yorkshire coast and has already changed the name of the hotel to Raithwaite Sandsend and upgraded its bar and dining room with bedroom suites to follow.
In the next few days, a construction team will move onto the estate to cut the first sod on what will be a village of 190 second homes with a village square boasting “Parisian style” cafés, artisan shops, a bakery/pizzeria and galleries. “The previous owners had permission for homes on the site but we have changed the designs, the layout and amenities based on our commercial knowledge so there will be small clusters of homes in various parts of the estate,” says Max.
There will be four phases of development over the next four years. The first phase includes three glass villas built into the hillside, four lodges set on stilts and 14 Yorkshire stone cottages.
Designed by Holder Mathias Architects, sustainable features include green roofs on lodges and villas and renewable energy from solar panels and ground source heat.
The interiors are by upmarket retailer Neptune, which has a branch in York. Each property will come with a Neptune kitchen and bathroom vanity unit and paint colours are inspired by the beach, coast and moors. As an added bonus, buyers will get a £10,000 Neptune voucher to spend on additional decoration and furnishings.
The second phase will see 12 lodges built in a woodland setting and 21 hilltop lodges. This will be followed by apartments in the valley and the final phase, which is the village square.
There will also be an on-site concierge service to arrange everything from maintenance and housekeeping to a ‘chocolate-on-pillow’ turn down service and food from the hotel brasserie delivered to the door.
The properties are already being snapped up off-plan even though the prices raised eyebrows when they were released for sale. Homes now come with a huge premium in Sandsend and the average price per sq ft there is now £500 but Raithwaite village properties have transcended that by commanding £620 per sq. ft. It appears to be justified, as within just two weeks,
Whitby-based Hendersons estate agents has sold all the two to three bedroom villas, which ranged from £695,000 to £800,000. All four of the three-bedroom lodges with sea views have gone for £495,000 each and three of the cottages which range from £350,000 for a one-bedroom and £465,000 for a two-bedroom, have also sold. Agency founder Nick Henderson says: “The village of Sandsend has been enduringly popular for generations as a holiday hotspot for those in the know, but it has always been a struggle to buy houses here because this is a small village with a lot of heirloom homes passed to the next generation.
“The Raithwaite homes offer people a chance to buy a property here and they are exceptional. We knew they would do well but they have exceeded all expectations. The design, location, the facilities and being walking distance from the beach and close to the hotel are all part of the appeal but even we have been a little surprised at selling £5.5m worth of property there in such a short amount of time.”
Toby Hunter adds: "Our sustainable designs are made to last, so that properties can be passed down through the generations, in turn creating a new historic village within its own right.”
Buyers are mainly from Yorkshire’s wealthy golden triangle which takes in York, North Leeds, Harrogate and Wetherby. “Owners can be here in less than a couple of hours and that is very appealing and I think the homes will prove to be a good investment. People are putting money into property because interest rates are so poor,” says Nick.
The Raithwaite properties cannot be a main residence but they can be used as holiday lets, which is part of the appeal for those who want to generate an income from them.
While the sale prices may exclude many would-be buyers, inclusivity is big on Maritime Capital’s agenda. “I think this place was quite closed off before but we want to make Raithwaite part of the Sandsend community. We want holiday makers and villagers to pop in for lunch at the hotel and to visit the village square and enjoy the place when it is finished,” says Max, who adds that a new pelican crossing on the main road between the beach and the Raithwaite estate is also on the Maritime Capital’s drawing board.
For details contact Hendersons estate agents,tel 01947 602626. www.raithwaitevillage.com.
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