October 3, 2022

First with the Alderney News

La Ville Hotel opens to a warm welcome

4 min read

States of Alderney President William Tate was invited to snip the ribbon

Victoria Street’s most iconic social venue was officially re-opened by the President of the States of Alderney on Saturday.

La Ville Hotel – formerly the infamous ‘Chez Andre’ , is the building’s newest incarnation and it is launched courtesy of entrepreneur Roger Saunt, who moved to Alderney three years ago.

Having acquired the site from the Liberation Group he and his new team spent three months cleaning and refreshing the 20 room hotel, restaurant, bar and function space to have it open to the public 365 days a year, seven days per week.

The venue is the largest on Victoria Street

They plan to open the popular adjoining ‘Bilge Bar’ on New Year’s Eve.

Splashes of hot pink and sea blue now enliven the rather dreary grey paint of the exterior, bringing a soupcon of Cote d’Azure style to its appearance, and the hot sunshine that bathed its opening on Saturday did nothing to detract from it.

William Tate was enlisted to cut the pink ribbon, saying the Chez – we should really stop calling it that – had in the past been the ‘heartbeat’ of Victoria Street.

Islanders poured in to have a look around and enjoy a celebratory glass of Bucks Fizz.

La Ville has a smart interior

Enquiries and bookings have been flooding in with holiday makers from the Bailwick keen to take advantage of the 20 per cent discount Staycation deal.

The hotel team – led by front of house manager Brittany McGrath – has had to hit the ground running.

When Roger Saunt, an media engineer and CBD oil industry business owner, said when they took the venue over in early May all major public events had been cancelled due to Coronavirus. Then the Bailiwick Bubble was launched and Alderney Week was on again.

‘When we did the deal in early May we thought we would have a quiet summer with just Alderney residents using. We thought that would be a nice time to have a soft opening for a hotel. But then with all the health providers and politicians doing such a good job controlling the virus, Alderney is busier than ever with visitors from our sister islands in the Bailiwick. So all of a sudden it’s the busiest week of the year and we’re opening. But everybody will muck in and we’ll rise to the challenge.’

Covid-19 related challenges include shortages of wine supplies and slow shipping of equipment from the mainland.

Britanny McGrath and her team have faced supply shortages and slow shipping because of the pandemic

‘We’re waiting for some more kitchen equipment to be shipped in so we can introduce a dinner service in the middle of August. Then we will keep building up the offer. The Bilge Bar will be open at New Year’s Eve.’

The ‘Chez’ has had a checkered past over the last couple of decades. Among the site’s former owners was multi-millionaire Christopher Dawes, who died in 1999.The Australian national, who was known as the Man in Black for his love for dark designer clothes, was reputed to be worth between £50mand £100m.

Mr Dawes had been charged with drug offences and police were investigating rape claims when the 39-year-old was killed in a car crash.

In recent years managers have struggled to make the business viable, especially during the lean winter months.

But Mr Saunt explained how he regarded the hotel in a different light to previous incumbents – meaning he was hopefully here to stay.

‘I came to the island 2018 and it’s always been closed since I’ve been here. When you walked up and down Victoria Street there’s this big dead space. I’ve been lucky enough to travel across the globe during my career but I’ve been missing that place to be a home. I needed a home and the hotel seemed to be an obvious place.

Owner Roger Saunt regards the hotel – and Alderney – very much as his home

‘But the business model in Alderney is different. The traditional thing is you invest in a building and you get a 15-20 per cent return. That’s not how it works here. You want to do it because it’s your home and you want to invest in the community. While we’re not a charity and we’re not here to lose money, you can’t make the same the returns because of season being so short. You have to look at it in a different way.’

A keen rugby player himself, Mr Saunt says La Ville will be the home of Alderney’s rugby squad. It will, he says, be the ideal place to stay for visiting sports teams.

He sees nothing to be ashamed of in aiming to offer excellent quality middle range accommodation to Alderney visitors.

‘A lot of people get angry with me when I say we’re a Premier Inn level offering. We’ve got those two phenomenal five and four star hotels and we have some great guest housesLa. But Alderney is missing that middle level function – that good-sized place where people can for get togethers like or stag and hen do’s. Hopefully we will provide that, as well as being a meeting place for the community.’

La Ville will offer breakfast from 7am to 11pm then serve lunch from 12pm-8pm. In two weeks they will be in a position to offer evening meals. Prices begin at £140 per night plus £10 per head for breakfast if required. Visitors booking as part of the Staycation deal enjoy a discount of 20 per cent on their stay.

Bonne chance to Roger and the whole team at La Ville from AYNEWS!

For more information visit: https://lavillehotel.com/

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