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1 August 2014

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Group Profile: The Four Pillars Hotel Group

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With six distinctive properties under its belt and plans for two more in the pipeline, the Four Pillars Hotel Group is expanding fast. Karen Doyle checks out its three top hotels


Autumn_at_Tortworth_2007_054.jpg It’s an exciting time at the Four Pillars Hotel Group. Last year, the small, independently owned company opened Cotswold Water Park – a gleaming, luxury development near Cirencester – and it has plans to unveil two more hotels in 2009, to create a total portfolio of 10 to 15 hotels by 2015.

‘We’re really excited about the direction our company is taking,’ says Vicky Begley, group sales and marketing director. ‘We’ve come a long way since starting out as a small restaurant group 35 years ago.’

Today, Four Pillars operates six three- and four-star hotels in the Cotswolds and Thames Valley, including their three flagship venues – Oxford Spires, Cotswold Water Park and Tortworth Court.

Each hotel has its own distinctive style, but inside you’ll find the same friendly and attentive service, which Begley considers to be the chain’s hallmark. ‘Our slogan is “with us you’re at home”,’ she says. ‘And we really try to make that a priority in our service.’

The Four Pillars ‘culture of care’ extends to ensuring employees are happy, too. In the past two years, it has been recognised as a leading employer in UK hospitality, second only to Four Seasons. ‘Four Pillars is passionate in its belief that happy staff result in happy customers,’ explains human resources manager Katherine White.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and Bristol-based event organiser Keren Sucheck, who recently organised a conference at Tortworth, had this to say: ‘Tortworth Court is a lovely hotel with attentive staff and an excellent restaurant. All the delegates were very happy with the venue and we would definitely use it again.’

Admittedly, some of the furnishings at the older hotels are starting to look a little dated, but refurbishment is an ongoing process. The bedrooms at Oxford Spires are currently receiving a facelift, while Tortworth Court’s formal meeting rooms will soon get a fresh look.

 Looking to the future, Four Pillars will concentrate solely on the four-star market, with two new hotels opening in Harwell and the Midlands in the next year or two. The group is also serious about upping its green credentials – Tortworth Court has just introduced a ‘plant-a-tree’ programme enabling organisers to off-set their event’s carbon emissions. 


TORTWORTH COURT
Lovingly restored after years of neglect, Tortworth Court (tel: 01454 263000) evokes images of an old English castle, complete with turrets, spires and formal, manicured gardens. Set in 30 acres of parkland, the 189-room hotel has a number of event spaces. The largest is the 400-capacity Westminster Suite, which can be configured in a variety of ways, while the attached 60ft atrium is ideal for refreshments or receptions.

In addition, Tortworth’s spacious grounds are great for teambuilding activities. ‘We’ve had falconry days, hot-air ballooning, even meerkat and wallaby racing,’ says sales manager Kathrin Cockhill. ‘But I think my favourite experience was having 120 men from Lloyds Bank drumming in a field – it was amazing to hear.’

Other event space includes five meeting rooms on the first floor, with breakout space in the Japanese Drawing Room or the ‘Room at the Top’, which is situated in its own tower and is ideal for discreet meetings, afternoon tea, and receptions – or as a relaxing retreat at the end of the day.

Dinners can be held in Moreton’s Restaurant, a wood-panelled library with decorative ceilings and chandeliers, or the stand-alone Orangery restaurant, which offers a fresh menu using locally sourced ingredients.


Cotswolds Water Park Four Pillars front - Cotswolds_Water_Park_Four_Pillars_front.jpgCOTSWOLD WATER PARK
The newest addition to the Four Pillars portfolio, Cotswold Water Park (tel: 01285 864000) is a huge, modern complex with a distinctly Scandinavian look and an eco-friendly approach. The venue capitalises on its scenic setting, as well as its convenient location just 20 minutes from the M4 and M5 motorways.

Meeting rooms are designed to accommodate from two to 800 people, and the largest rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the adjacent lake and woodland. There’s plenty of space for large-scale events, as well as 220 well-appointed bedrooms and suites.

A health complex with gym, spa and swimming pool ensure that guests have plenty to occupy their leisure time, and a summer visit will surely involve some of the water- or land-based activities on offer in the surrounding park.) is a huge, modern complex with a distinctly Scandinavian look and an eco-friendly approach. The venue capitalises on its scenic setting, as well as its convenient location just 20 minutes from the M4 and M5 motorways.

Meeting rooms are designed to accommodate from two to 800 people, and the largest rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the adjacent lake and woodland. There’s plenty of space for large-scale events, as well as 220 well-appointed bedrooms and suites.

A health complex with gym, spa and swimming pool ensure that guests have plenty to occupy their leisure time, and a summer visit will surely involve some of the water- or land-based activities on offer in the surrounding park.


OXFORD SPIRES
Located just a short stroll from the historic city, Oxford Spires (tel: 01865 324324) is a quiet retreat set in 40 acres of parkland on the banks of the Thames. Built in Cotswold stone, the hotel has a conference wing, health and leisure club, restaurant, bar and lounge. Its extensive facilities and proximity to the city centre ensure it’s always in demand for business meetings, training and teambuilding, as well as end-of-year functions and dinner dances.

The 159 bedrooms are spacious and comfortable, offering internet access and complimentary hospitality trays. Notably, the hotel offers ample free parking – invaluable in a city that’s notoriously hostile to cars. Event space includes the Cathedral Suite, a large room that can accommodate more than 260 guests and be divided or opened up depending on the size of the event. Those using the suite also have access to a private bar, business office and cloakroom, along with PA systems and presentation equipment. A further 14 well-equipped meeting and breakout rooms are available throughout the complex.

Dining is available in the restaurant, Deacons, which offers standard hotel food and exemplary service, or in the adjoining lounge and bar area, which opens on to a terrace in summer.


This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Spring 2008.


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