A luxury Anglesey hotel celebrating its 20th anniversary has been hailed as a jewel in the island’s tourism crown.
The four star Tre-Ysgawen Hall Country House Hotel and Spa at Capel Coch near Llangefni, which dates back to 1882, is marking two decades under its present ownership.
Ynys Mȏn AM Rhun ap Iorwerth praised the hotel during a visit to mark its anniversary by cutting a 20th birthday cake.
Amongst the thousands of guests who have stayed at the luxury property are Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Attenborough, along with pop stars JLS and Alicia Keyes plus David Essex, who got married at Tre-Ysgawen Hall.
Hollywood superstar Demi Moore was a regular visitor when she was filming on Anglesey and the hotel has played host to the Queen of Lesotho, the landlocked African country that’s twinned with Wales.
The 29-bedroomed hotel and spa, a Visit Wales Gold Award winner, employs more than 80 staff. It was recently named as North Wales Spa of the Year at the 2016 Hair and Beauty Awards.
Mr ap Iorwerth toured the premises to see recent investment, including refurbishment work, the hotel’s conference suite and a £600,000 biomass heat and power plant.
Hotel chief executive Neil Rowlands also updated Mr ap Iorwerth about plans with head chef Iwan Hughes to revamp the hotel’s restaurant to create a more casual dining experience within the main body of the hall, to encourage more local people and tourists to visit Tre-Ysgawen for a meal.
Mr ap Iorwerth said: “Tre-Ysgawen is a jewel in the crown of this island’s tourism economy – an industry that is hugely important on Anglesey.
“The investment that has gone on here during the past 20 years is something that is now paying dividends for the whole of Anglesey in terms of opportunities of employment for local people.
“The hotel is a great ambassador for what Anglesey has to offer in terms of tourism and I congratulate them on their 20th anniversary,” added Mr ap Iorwerth, a former BBC journalist and broadcaster who previously visited the hotel when he was a judge on S4C’s celebrity cooking challenge, Pryd o Sêr
Mr Rowlands – who has been at the hotel since 1996, when he was junior assistant manager – also presented Mr ap Iorwerth with a book about the hotel’s 130-year history, since it was built as a family home.
“All along, we have aimed to keep the style and splendour of this historic property while ensuring it meets the high standards expected by today’s local, regional and international visitors,” said Mr Rowlands.
“And it is our team, almost all of whom live locally and have grown up in the area, that really make the difference here at the Hall. This is most often confirmed on sites like TripAdvisor, which continually receives very positive reviews that compliment the team for their level of customer service and professionalism while being friendly and helpful.
“I strongly believe that hospitality should be seen as a real career choice, and not just a summer job.
“Young people should be given every opportunity to train to a high standard, so that tourism remains a key factor in the strength of Anglesey’s economy.
“Our biggest legacy will be in providing good, high quality jobs and career opportunities in this area.”
Mr ap Iorwerth also visited the Clock Tower bistro – which features a clock dating back to 1802 that was originally made for Bangor Cathedral, and was donated to the Hall when it was first built by the deacon of Bangor Cathedral.
In addition Mr ap Iorwerth toured the hotel’s £4.5m spa, with a thermal suite consisting of a salt inhalation room that uses Anglesey sea salt, herbal sauna, cold drench shower, tropical shower experience, ice fountain along with a heated swimming pool and spa bath, plus the gymnasium, located on the in the mansion’s former stable block.
Tre-Ysgawen Spa’s head beauty therapist Nerys Shore explained that staff use the highly regarded Espa product range alongside the hotel’s own body scrubs. These have been specially created for the hotel, using Halen Mȏn sea salt and the Hall’s signature balms, oils and moisturisers, all inspired by plants in the mansion’s grounds.
Mr ap Iorwerth added: “We have a very healthy tourism, hospitality and food sector here on Anglesey but it is important that people are given the support to see it as a career, with plenty of opportunities.
“We have many energy-related employment opportunities in the pipeline in the coming few years but it is also essential that Anglesey also continues to concentrate on those other things we’re good at, such as a high quality tourism product, including the Tre-Ysgawen hotel and spa, that will appeal all year round to visitors from across Wales, the UK and further afield.”
Once a private country mansion house, the house was built by the Pritchard-Rayner family with money made from copper mining on nearby Parys Mountain. During the Victorian and Edwardian eras it welcomed famous names from the elite of European society.
In the 1980s it underwent renovation work and in 1996 the hotel, then with 19 rooms and just 11 staff, was opened under the general management of Mr Rowlands’ family.
A former Royal Navy marine engineer before he switched careers to the hotel industry, Neil Rowlands has previously chaired Tourism Partnership North Wales, when he was named North Wales Director of the Year by the Institute of Directors.
Today he represents North Wales on the Tourism Advisory Board, run by Visit Wales, ad chairs Anglesey Enterprise Zone board.
Under his management, the hotel has undergone refurbishment, with the opening of a 600kw biomass plant to provide heat to the hotel. The plant uses wood from the nearby Bodorgan estate and has helped the hotel slash its yearly £90,000 oil bill. It has reduced the Hall’s carbon footprint to 286 tonnes – down from 782 tonnes – and also provides electric car charging points for guests.
It is the largest biomass plant in any UK hotel, and was switched on by Edwina Hart, then Minister for Business, Enterprise, Technology and Science.