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Dovedale: Izaak Walton, the iconic hotel, reopens

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: June 17, 2014

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ONE of the area’s most iconic hotels has been rescued.

The Izaak Walton Hotel, in Dovedale, ran into problems and closed last year but around a year later, in April, it was bought by two business partners who have lovingly nursed it back to health and opened it last week.

Businessman James Keay and hotelier Andy Jeneson, who both originate from Shropshire, have ploughed a six-figure sum into restoring the hotel after nine months of legal wrangling to secure ownership of the historic building.

When they got the keys they discovered that one of the wettest winters on record had taken its toll and work began on repairing and restoring the interior and its 37 rooms.

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Mr Jeneson said: “The garden was like a jungle and when I opened one of the bedrooms a barn owl flew out at me. The wet winter had taken its toll and the bulk of the money we spent has gone on fixing things caused by a lack of investment.”

As part of the renovation works, The car park has been resurfaced and most of the communal areas have been re-carpeted and redecorated.

Mr Keay has fond memories of the Izaak Walton as his family have stayed there for many years. He explained he was keen to keep the interior’s decor close to how it was before its closure.

He said: “What we’ve done is given it a sympathetic freshen-up, rather than a complete makeover and it’s been hard getting everything ready in the time. I keep saying that we’ve saved the place, but I do think that’s effectively what we’ve done.

“There were developers looking at it and we really wanted to make sure it became the hotel that everyone remembers.

“What happened to the Izaak Walton when it closed was quite damaging and I wouldn’t say it’s been easy to bring it back but we’ve had wonderful support from the guests, so it seems all the baggage from the past has gone and people are just delighted to see it back.”

Mr Keay and Mr Jeneson recruited a handful of local staff to get the hotel back on its feet and hope to be employing up to 35 people by the time the business is in full swing in the summer holidays.

Mr Keay said: “It’s as if the place is at the start of another journey now. We’re part of something that was great, and will be great again.

“I know it’s going to be hard work and I haven’t come in to this for the money, I’ve come in to it to create something really special and to me it’ll be worth more than all the money in the world if people come and stay and have a great time.

“That will put a real smile on my face.”

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