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Transforming Paschoe House into a boutique hotel and local employer

19th October 2017

After receiving some fantastic reviews such as in The Telegraph and other local publications, FOLK2FOLK went along to see the results of the transformation of Paschoe House. Once a former derelict manor house, it’s owner’s daughter Tabitha Amador-Christie discusses how the house has evolved into a modern boutique hotel and fine dining restaurant. With help from FOLK2FOLK and our lenders, the money raised has helped make Tabitha’s dream and business idea a reality. One that now employs over 20 people and has put Paschoe House up there as one of the UK’s hottest hotels on the rise.

At aged 18, Tabitha already had her vision for a business. It was to transform her home, Paschoe House in Devon, into a boutique hotel. Armed with a business plan created herself, Tabitha pitched the idea to her father over tacos at Wahaca in Westfield Shopping Centre in London.

Unsurprisingly, Tabitha’s father said no at the time but fast-forward 10 years and after further pressures from an ambitious and determined Tabitha, her dad gave way to her plans to create a boutique hotel in the heart of Devon.

“I just couldn’t let the idea go. All through my time at university and working in London, I kept coming back to the house at weekends and knew it had the potential to be a luxury hotel. In 2014 we went through a life changing experience as a family and after a further 7-8 months of discussing the idea with my Dad, he then give me the blessing to put a proper business case together with architectural plans and finance propositions.”

Tabitha was able to pull together all the building plans, CADS and business plans by asking friends to help out. By doing this before the project even started, Tabitha was able to save thousands in professional fees. All-in-all it took around 10 months to get the plans together as well as planning permissions for the listed building to be made into a hotel.

“I remember we got the final planning permissions from the council in June 2016, the next stage was getting the finance in place to start the building work as quickly as possible. The challenge for me was where we would raise the funds needed to do the work.”

Tabitha naturally went to her family’s existing bank for a loan. It immediately said no to the idea as it was not lending to the leisure and tourism industry. The initial feedback was that the business was too projection led. Tabitha also tried Barclays which wanted a deposit of 20% based on the loan amount which she didn’t have.

It was her solicitor Andrew Greene who recommended Tabitha to speak to FOLK2FOLK to see if we could help fund the renovations and new building work.

“In mid-September 2016  I went into FOLK2FOLK’s Launceston branch armed with my plans and deeds and had a fantastic meeting discussing the business. I was then informed the next day that the loan had been approved by FOLk2FOLK, which really helped bring a sense of calm and reassurance. Within 1-2 weeks the funds were in my account and that same week the builders were on site getting to work.”

“I had heard of FOLK2FOLK but wish I had gone to them sooner, as I could have saved myself around three months of wasted time and discussions with banks. It was great to get certainty after so much rejection.”

“What struck me was the ethos of FOLK2FOLK, it was positive in saying yes and I think it’s a fair form of finance as I know my money is coming from real people, which means I am extremely grateful to my lenders for believing in me. I know my repayments are going to them which makes me more determined to make the hotel a success.”

Paschoe House is a great example of Folkonomics and the local lending movement in action. Tabitha is passionate about keeping everything local from produce to staff.

During the 11-month renovation and building project, she employed only local contractors to carry out the work. On average, she says there were around 40 people on site at any one time. This included plumbers, builders, carpenters, painters, electricians and plasterers. The hotel is a testament to her project managing skills and design vision, as she was on site 24/7 to oversee the various contractors and interiors which she did herself.

The hotel has also become an attractive local place to work too, as Tabitha has hired an experienced and talented Devon based chef plus additional local talent to fill the 23 roles at the hotel with 6 permanent members of the team and the rest on part-time and flexible hours. Tabitha emphasised that as this is a family home turned hotel and she wants to make her team feel part of that family too.

“It was always my plan to make Paschoe into a luxury destination venue for people looking to explore Devon but also for locals to enjoy too; be that for lunch & dinner, evening drinks or afternoon tea. I always had the goal of the business to be a local employer, to create jobs for local people to learn, train and grow their careers. We have CVs coming in daily which is great as we can then look at ensuring we have the best people for the roles we have available.”

“We are also a fully set up for weddings and corporate events, and have a couple of big weddings and events under our belts. This was a good test for me and the team to see how we fare under the pressure. I’m very happy to say that the team did excellent, we learned a lot from it as I’m always looking to make improvements to the hotel and the way we do things.”

“The next the stage is to increase our bookings and private hires but also to become a 5-star hotel. I think that will really help make us stand out as a go-to hotel in the South West.”

Following our chat in the main living room with hotel dog Truffles looking on, Tabitha gave FOLK2FOLK a guided tour of the bedrooms, kitchen, bar, dining room and outside. What struck us was the sheer size and scale of the project and level of design and detail that has gone into Paschoe House. Tabitha has created a luxurious hotel, that is at the same time calm, cosy and contemporary without being over-the-top in its design.

We look forward to seeing how the hotel progresses and expect to see more great reviews in the future.  Paschoe House is a shining example of why FOLK2FOLK’s local lending movement is important and how Folkonomics can benefits local communities.

We wish Tabitha and her team all the best.

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