New owners at Wiltshire golf club aim to make it top venue
THE team who have taken over The Wiltshire Hotel Golf and Country Club are teeing up to turn it into one of the best golf courses in the county.
Former newspaper entrepreneur Eddy Shah, 69, and wife Jennifer, who was the general manager, left the £3.5m venue near Royal Wootton Bassett last month after more than 10 years.
It is now being run by new owners Ciné and Andrew Dunkley, Mandy and Haydn Barrell, and Nigel and Julia Dunkley.
Andrew was formerly managing director at the Gallagher Convention Centre near Johannesburg in South Africa, and Ciné and Mandy were general managers there.
Haydn is a British qualified PGA golf professional.
Andrew, 50, said: “We decided about two years ago that it was time to leave South Africa. We have got British backgrounds apart from Ciné.
“The economic outlook outlook longer term wasn’t rosy so we decided it was time to make a move. Because of our hospitality background, a hotel was our first solution.
“We had been looking at buying properties for about two years. We looked at about 45 in total. Ultimately, The Wiltshire was the only place we saw that actually was the kind of size we liked. The other places we saw were too small.
“The other attraction was the potential and the versatility. It matches our skillset.
“We recognise the economy isn’t fantastic at the moment but we invested with that in mind. We know we are going to have to sit it out for a year to 18 months before we start reaping the benefits.”
The team are planning to focus on corporate business during the week and hold conferences.
Work is already being carried out to upgrade the golf course.
Haydn, 49, said: “Four or five years ago this was one of the best courses in the area. We are confident we can get it back to where it used to be.”
Ciné, 33, the hotel’s general manager, said: “It is an exciting time. The place has got so much potential. “There is so much more we can do with it in terms of attracting more people and putting on corporate events.”
The Wiltshire has 55 staff and 800 members.
The team, who have been running the venue for a month now, are also hoping to increase their membership numbers.
Mandy, 43, who is also a general manager, said: “The support from the golf members, leisure members and people staying in the village has been brilliant. They have been very encouraging and helpful.”
Nigel and Julia are still in South Africa but are expecting to move to the area in the next two years.
For more information visit http://the-wiltshire.co.uk/ or phone 01793 849999.