FIVE generations of the same family have been keeping the "Grand Old Lady" that is the Metropole Hotel in good shape for 120 years.
Justin Baird-Murray and his sister Finance Director Sarah Hill have been taking good care of their great-great grandmother’s legacy, the Metropole which she took over in 1896.
The Metropole began life as the Coleman’s Hotel in 1872, opened by Howey shopkeeper and Postmaster Edwin Coleman before being bought in 1885 by hotelier John Wilding. Renamed The Bridge, the siblings transformed the hotel adding a billiard room, and laundry, as well as levelling and turfing the waste land opposite for use by customers.
Famously, the area played host to the annual circus where a lioness escaped and wandered into the bar before being caught.
Elizabeth Mills was deemed a real trail blazer of her time, spotting the potential of the Llandrindod Wells Hotel, for £7850 in 1897. Little did she know that the venue would become the largest in Wales and still remain in the hands of her family, more than a century later.
The war had a major impact on the hotel, with the Army requisitioned the hotel, using it as an officers’ cadet training centre. Despite the hotel needing extensive repair and renovation, the Mills family were undeterred. When her grandson David Baird-Murray took up the helm in 1954, he set out to modernise the hotel, providing en-suite bathrooms.
“The upkeep on the hotel is immense,” said Managing Director Justin. "The moment you think you have finished, you need to start again. Keeping our grand old lady in good shape is a costly business."
The hotel had become famous for its spa which sadly closed in 1972. Guests would be able to drink the water, bathe in it and have pressurised water jet massage treatments. The siblings have built on the success of their ancestors, invested more than £5m in the venue and breathing new life into the spa.
The hotel now boasts a state-of-the-art Rock Spa, upgraded wedding and conference facilities, revamping Spencer’s bar and brasserie and updating all the bedrooms.
"What’s clear to us is how much our guests appreciate the TLC we have lavished on The Metropole," said Justin. "And the way in which we have managed to bring this stately Victorian building into the 21st century without losing its distinctive character and charm."
The hotel has secured the Visit Wales gold award for outstanding quality, comfort and hospitality, and have received an AA rosette.
For more information ring 01597 823700 or visit www.metropole.co.uk