The Great Western Hotel in Taunton has become a finalist at this year’s Somerset Business Awards, in the Private and Public Collaboration category.
The Private and Public Collaboration award recognises joint efforts between private and public organisations which have positively impacted the local community, and is sponsored by Wessex Reserve Forces and Cadets Association.
The Great Western Hotel’s regeneration was a collaboration between YMCA Dulverton Group (formerly YMCA Somerset Coast) and many partners including Somerset West and Taunton District Council and the Hinkley Point C Community Impact and Mitigation Fund.
A sympathetic restoration of the Great Western Hotel took around 6 months, where saving as many original building features as possible was important to all involved. Where contractors were enlisted, local tradespeople were taken on in order to ensure support into local businesses and the local economy.
The hotel has followed in the steps of other YMCA Dulverton Group social enterprises in Minehead and Wrington and shares the commitment to give local young people the opportunities to learn through work, recently employing 2 apprentices.
Community is key within the Great Western Hotel, from its restoration right through to its opening, local people are at its heart. Community groups such as the Talking Café have a base at the hotel for their regular meetings, and provide a space for people to seek advice. The sessions have been greatly successful so far, and aim to build relationships with the local police, organisations and community members.
Since opening its doors in spring, the hotel has had around 1500 guests, held 6 community events and 5 evening dinner events. As well as this, the hotel is home to rentable offices, co-working space and conference facilities where 160 conferences have so far been held.
Martin Hodgson, CEO of YMCA Dulverton Group said: “I am thrilled that the Great Western Hotel is being recognised at the Somerset Business Awards this year.
“The hotel’s regeneration was a labour of love for all involved and means that the building is once more being used for its intended purpose. The project took around 6 months in total, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance and expertise of everyone involved. I am reminded of the scale of the task every time I visit the building and I remain grateful to all of those who helped us make this vision a reality.
“The small team that now run the hotel have great knowledge of the building’s history and do everything they can to ensure guests feel they have had an excellent experience, whatever their reason for visiting.”
Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Leader of SWT, said: “The Great Western hotel is a truly deserving finalist that really shows the power of collaboration in bringing a neglected but important building back to life.
“We are delighted to have supported this project which not only provides a business boost but has added social and educational benefits that will help to regenerate the area. I wish them every success.”
Members of the Great Western Hotel team are looking forward to attending the Somerset Business Awards later this month and wish every finalist luck in their categories.
To find out more about the Great Western Hotel please visit the website.