Channels, situated on the edge of the village of Little Waltham, is to undergo a restructure which will include investment into its wedding venues, hotel and restaurant operations, and open up the parkland estate to the local community.
The 15th century 4 star Channels Lodge hotel and thriving Essex Barn wedding venue – considered by many to be the best in Essex, will become a more exclusive wedding location and continue to host private and corporate events, while plans are underway to make Channels Bar & Brasserie a destination restaurant with an expanded menu and private dining suites.
However, after 42 years of trading, the golf club is no longer a viable concern which means that the 18 hole course will close on 31st March 2017 leaving the management of Channels focused on the parts of the business that have the potential to grow, be lasting and sustainable.
Richard Stubbings of the Cliffords Group explained: “The closure of the course is sadly due to the decline in membership and high costs involved in maintaining it. Unfortunately, the golf industry as a whole has seen a significant decline in memberships of more than 20% in recent years and it has badly affected clubs like ours.
“Studies show that changing habits and attitudes have impacted on traditional golf clubs and many golfers now prefer the pay and play model to a membership club.”
The 9 hole pay and play golf course and driving range at Little Channels will continue to provide golfing facilities for members and non-members within the surrounding area and will be upgraded over the next couple of years.
“The aim for the future is to make our wedding venues more prestigious while integrating our other amenities, especially Channels Bar & Brasserie, into community life. In addition to this, we plan to lay on events for local residents to enjoy, like farmers markets, crafts and Christmas fairs, and beer and music festivals, which we believe will create interest in the area,” added Richard Stubbings.