THE new boss of a hotel overlooking the seafront says she wants to turn the building into a four-star venue.
Abby Thomson, who also owns The Seahorse pub in Broadsands Drive, has recently taken over the Alverbank Country House Hotel in Stokes Bay Road, along with her husband, David.
Mrs Thomson’s first job in the hospitality industry was at the Stokes Bay hotel – and so she is proud to now be running the show 20 years on.
She said: ‘I feel a huge sense of responsibility, both to the staff here and to the historic building.
‘The response when we said we were taking over was phenomenal and I think that’s down to how much everyone loves this venue, so I want to make sure we do this right.
‘Growing up in Gosport I worked in a lot of pubs and hotels but this one stands out as being so unique. Twenty years ago I was working here in the ice-cream parlour and this was the first place I started pouring pints.
‘It was a key part of my life and I have always loved it here.’
With the takeover process complete, Abby has set her sights on improving the hotel to a four-star standard – but says that the hotel’s role in the community will not suffer as a result.
She explained: ‘The dream is to turn the Alverbank into a four-star hotel because currently there isn’t one in Gosport, so that is the ultimate goal.
‘But at the same time it has to be a community venue for weddings, business meetings, community events, entertainment nights and so on.
‘It needs a full refurb both inside and out; we want to sort the garden to make it family-friendly, bring the cottage back into use – either as a honeymoon suite or a dog-friendly cottage – and turn the barns into treatment rooms.
‘It would be great for brides to come with their bridesmaids and get their hair done and so on.
‘We just want the hotel to be a complete package, all under one roof.’
Abby hopes the number of jobs at the hotel could more than double when the refurbishment has finished.
‘Currently there are about 10 employees working here, but I think at its peak this place has had up to about 24,’ she said.
‘For a four-star hotel, with all the plans we have and getting the dining room back in operation, I think we’ll probably be looking at even more than that.
‘I’m very passionate about service levels here and so have already been speaking to staff here about apprenticeships, training programmes and so on - we want to bring that all back in too.
‘Gosport is a very supportive community so I think this is a venue that despite being four-star would be welcoming of people coming to learn their trade here.
‘It’s a very exciting time for us all.’