With the recent change in ownership of Burgh Island has come a welcome change in management style. At a recent, very well-attended, Bigbury History Society event held by invitation in the Burgh Island Hotel’s spectacular Ganges Room, we were all treated both to a presentation by Duncan Gray, the Managing Director, and to some generous hospitality.
Duncan reviewed something of the hotel’s history but also revealed his far-sighted plans for redevelopment of the hotel and the Pilchard Inn, on the island, together with Warren Cottage and the Bay View cafe – which his business consortium has also purchased, on the mainland. Whilst maintaining the exclusivity of the hotel and developing its attractions as a high-class venue for social and business events, the plan is to welcome other visitors to the island, especially local people. Perhaps the most visible immediate manifestation of this plan are the changes to the Pilchard Inn, where the outside seating capacity has already been doubled, non-resident visitors are made welcome throughout the pub, and the basement cafe has been reopened.
Longer term, we were told amongst other things, about ambitious plans to develop the tidal Mermaid’s Pool, set amongst the island’s cliffs, which until recently had been used as a repository for unwanted junk and accumulated silt. For example, the natural shape of the rocks and good acoustics might make for a floating, under-lit stage in an amphitheatre similar to the iconic Minack Theatre in Cornwall. To widespread acclaim, the new owners have dropped the recently approved but highly controversial plans for a stand-alone hotel suite perched on the cliff top overlooking the Avon Estuary.
Local concerns about the future of Warren Cottage and the Bay View Cafe should be allayed because the future of both buildings now looks secure; Warren Cottage as residential accommodation for hotel staff and a revitalised, re-named Burgh View Cafe.
Plans are afoot to help develop closer local relationships by holding a fund-raising BBQ event in aid of the Hope Cove lifeboat in September – watch out for details!