Crown Golf’s £100m make-over of St Mellion Golf Club has reached a landmark – when an employee whose family has been involved with the resort since its opening 31 years ago, struck the first blow to demolish its hotel.
The venue’s conference co-ordinator, Penny Baxter, kick-started the demolition process, which will see the hotel replaced by a new flagship building with 80 bedrooms, more than trebling its capacity.
The redevelopment, approved earlier this year by Caradon District Council, also includes plans for 265 golf homes and incorporates a significant remodeling of the venue’s Nicklaus Course, which will host the prestigious English Open from 2009 until at least 2013.
Penny’s family has been part of the fabric of the St Mellion resort since its creation. She was born and bred in the village of St Mellion and several members of her family have been involved with the club.
Her mother, Rowena Brooking, retired only last year after 30 years of working there as a cook and waitress while her father, Donald, was in charge of maintenance there for 25 years. Even Mrs Baxter’s husband has been a member of the club for the past 30 years.
“Being there at the start of the original hotel’s life in 1997, and now at the end of it, feels rather strange,” said Rowena, “but I‘m delighted to be part of the redevelopment.”
Clad in a hard hat and hi-viz waistcoat, Penny climbed aboard a giant vehicle and, to a huge cheer from the assembled staff, the demolition began – although there were tears in the eyes of many staff who had gathered to watch.
St Mellion director of golf David Moon said, “It’s was a sad moment because the hotel has been such an integral part of St Mellion International Golf and Country Club.
“But the new hotel will offer state-of-the-art, resort-quality accommodation and we are all looking forward to seeing it go up. This is a tremendously exciting project.”
Owners Crown Golf are Europe’s largest golf course owner/operator, with 33 venues and more than 50 courses across the UK and the £100m development is one of the biggest investments made in Cornwall since the Eden Project.
The project will also see a luxury golf bar constructed alongside the 18th hole to create a grandstand finish – a fitting way to mark the return of the English Open to the European Tour schedule after a six-year absence.
It is expected that up to 100 new jobs will be created at the resort, which is already one of the largest employers in the South West.
Crown Golf Chief Operating Officer, John Weir, said, “Penny’s involvement in the demolition of the hotel marks the transition of St Mellion from one of the first established golf resorts in England to its new position as a modern, family-led resort that still retains quality golf as its heart.
“As our flagship venue this period of evolution is exciting for our team, our membership and those visitors who play our courses. Combined with our developing relationship with the European Tour this heralds an exciting future for St Mellion and the group.”
Crown Golf www.crown-golf.co.uk