Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Design Feature: Plumpy Duck

Plumpy Duck – The Bowfield Hotel & Country Club, Howwood

Originally bought out of receivership in 2012, five years of hard work have been needed to overcome the planning and logistical issues standing in the way of Manorview Group achieving their vision at The Bowfield Hotel & Country Club.

But now the final piece of the jigsaw are institution, and the club’s members – all 2,066 of them, as well as all their outher cusotmers, must be delighted.

The gym facilities, bedrooms and kids play area have been totally revamped, new treatment rooms are in the process of being finalised upstairs and a renovation of the function room is next, but the jewel in the crown is quite possibly the bar and restaurant, entitled The Stables and The Plumpy Duck respectively.

The Stables is an updated version of an existing bar, whereas The Plumpy Duck is wholly new, and both were designed by Space ID and knocked into shape by Dimension Shopfitting.

The Stables has a welcoming, distinctly Scottish feel, with chocolate brown leather chairs and stools spread out upon thick, patterned carpet (supplied by Wilton Carpets). An original fireplace has been reinstated and a new skylight has been installed, so light and warmth are not in short supply! Crockery and artificial bookcases enhance the country club vibe.

Anthony Cowley, Manorview Development Director, explained, “We worked very closely with Space ID and Dimension. It was a
collaboration. We’ve kept the same layout but
took the concept a bit further forward. We’ve worked around a lot of the original features but the feel and lookhas now been modernised..”

He continues, “There was a pipe chase we couldn’t get rid of because it services upstairs, so we put the artificial bookcase there. That attention to detail is key, other people might have just boxed that in.”

Just around the corner lies The Plumpy Duck, a longer, wider room with an autumnal colour scheme. Wooden pillars and sections of panelling with wrought iron cross sections serve to create
intimate corners and hideaways, although customers more inclined to nosiness can sneak glances through the wrought iron! Inventive design features include a row of tweed coats and caps complete with shepherd’s crooks, and mirrors made from the bases of whisky barrels.

Anthony elaborated on the thinking behind the rather unusual name.

He said, “I was discussing with our new Head of Marketing David Young the issues with hotel restaurants, in that people don’t tend to use the name of the restaurant when they talk about it – they say the name of the hotel instead. Internally we talked about how to raise the profile of the restaurant so that it’s a destination in itself. David came back with the name The Plumpy Duck. ‘It is really quite a unique name,. It’s different and the more we spoke about it, the more it grew on everyone. We hope it’s a strong enough name to hold its own identity, so that rather than people saying, ‘I was at The Bowfield for food’, they’ll say, ‘I was at The Plumpy Duck.’”

In fact, it’s more than just a name, as ducks are everywhere you look inside the restaurant, from a selection of duck paintings running along one wall to the menu, which will feature duck eggs for breakfast and a different duck special every day for lunch.

Bowfield is one of nine hotels in the Manorview portfolio, but the fact that it that doubles as a health club is just one of the reasons Anthony describes it as the most challenging job project the group have took on. They had to install a £90,000 drainage system and a £365,000 biomass plant, and somehow keep the members – whose numbers have more than doubled since Manorview took over – happy while it was all going on.

Anthony added, “In the early days we didn’t have enough money to develop a whole site. For instance we kept the pub open at The Commercial while we did the nightclub upstairs, and at The Torrance we did the ground floor and externals then the function room later. “People go to places like The Lynnhurst for a wedding or lunch, so it’s no problem if you’re working on a bedroom, but if somebody’s paying £1,000 for a family membership they expect a really good experience regardless of whether it’s being developed or not. To be fair, the members have been so excited about the club being renovated, they’re smart enough to see what’s coming. It’s just striking the right balance, and it’s been very rewarding to see the finished product.”

Membership at The Bowfield is approaching the all-time high of 2,250 achieved in the early noughties, quite a feat considering the subsequent boom in health clubs such as David Lloyd and Virgin Active.

Anthony concluded, “The restaurant has also been busy, the members have been over the moon. It used to be that members would use the facilities then leave – the offering wasn’t good enough. Now, with the restaurant looking particularly inviting members are happy to come and bring the whole family. The kids can go in the play area, mum can do an aerobics class, while dads can can use the sauna. It ticks all the boxes. The idea is that it’s a destination where people can come and do lots of activities all under one roof.”

It’s an easier decision than ever for customers to ‘plump’ for The Bowfield now that The Stables and The Plumpy Duck are up and running. Or should that be waddling!

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