The hotels have enjoyed an interesting and dynamic history and each one has its own unique tales of days gone by. We have compiled the background which explains the development of English Lakes Hotels from 1952 until present day.
Low Wood & Wild Boar Hotels Purchased
On 25th December 1952 Norman Buckley, great uncle of the present Chairman/Managing Director Simon Berry, purchased Low Wood Hotel.
On 8th August 1959, the Wild Boar Hotel was purchased.
Norman Buckley secures World Water Speed Records
During the 1950’s, Norman Buckley secured four World Water Speed Records on Lake Windermere in his own designed and built boats, Miss Windermere II and III.
The Royal Hotel added to portfolio
On 20th October 1965, the Royal Hotel was purchased. In 1969, the Wild Boar and Low Wood were increased in size considerably.
Further Water Speed Records Broken
Norman Buckley secured two further World Water Speed Records on Windermere in Miss Windermere IV. As well as these achievements he was the official timekeeper present at Campbell’s fatal attempt in Bluebird to raise his own World Water Speed Record on Coniston Water in January 1967.
Norman Buckley awarded MBE
Norman Buckley secured one more World Water Speed Record in Miss Windermere V. He was awarded the MBE for his endeavours on 3rd June 1972 and died November 1974.
Michael Berry becomes MD
Michael Berry, joined the group on 14th July 1972 and took over as Managing Director in 1974 when his uncle died.
Waterhead joins the group
The Waterhead Hotel was purchased on 1st July 1975 and English Lakes Hotels Limited was established 16th May 1979.
Douglas Dale manages The Wild Boar
Douglas Dale (now Operations Director) joined the company, as General Manager at The Wild Boar in July 1979.
Simon and Tim join the company
Simon (now Managing Director/Chairman) and Tim (Building & Leisure Director) joined their father in running the business.
Low Wood Watersports Centre opens
The Low Wood Watersports Centre was created in August 1983 and officially opened by the Minister for Sport, Mr. Neil Macfarlane, M.P., on 9th January 1984.
Douglas Dale joins the board
Douglas Dale joined the board as Operations Director in October 1986.
Low Wood is Developed
Major developments took place at Low Wood with the building of the Conference Centre and Leisure Club, all of which opened in June 1989.
Prince Edward opens extended Low Wood
His Royal Highness Prince Edward officially opened the new extended Low Wood Hotel on 3rd March 1990.
Lancaster House Officially Opened
Lancaster House Hotel was the first green field site build and was opened 12th July 1991. Princess Alexandra performed the official opening ceremony on 4th December 1991.
Directors attend Disney Programme
In 1994 a number of Directors attended Disney University in Orlando, on a programme called "The Disney Approach to Quality Service".
Michael Doyle joins English Lakes
Michael Doyle (Financial Controller) joined the company.
Michael Berry awarded OBE
On 14th June 1997, Michael Berry was awarded the O.B.E. for services to training and tourism in Cumbria.
Simon Berry takes over as MD
On 1st July 1998, Simon Berry took over as Managing Director of the company, whilst his father Michael, remained as Executive Chairman.
2000 - Lifetime Achievement award for Michael Berry
Michael Berry was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Catering International Management Association.
2001 - Low Wood awarded 4 stars
In October 2001 Low Wood Hotel celebrated achieving 4 star status from the AA and RAC. This accolade followed improvements and re-development at the hotel amounting to £8 million over the previous 10 years.
2002 - English Lakes celebrates 50 years
In 2002 English Lakes Hotels celebrated its 50th anniversary and to commemorate this, and the tri-century of Low Wood, 1702-2002, Michael Berry launched his book ‘Low Wood on Windermere, Three Hundred Years of Lakeland History’. The book provided a detailed account of the inns history, beginning with the birth of Lakeland tourism.
2003 - Low Wood - 'Large Hotel of the Year'
In 2003 Low Wood Hotel won the ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ award in the Cumbria for Excellence Awards run by Cumbria Tourist Board.
2003 - Storrs Hall joins English Lakes
In April 2003, English Lakes Hotels announced the addition of Storrs Hall Hotel to their portfolio, under a management contract on the property.
In November the Waterhead Hotel closed to undergo a major redevelopment.
2004 - Waterhead undergoes Redevelopment
Waterhead re-opened in April 2004 as the Lake District’s first 4 star Town House Hotel, following a re-development programme costing over £3 million. The new luxury hotel offered a style that can not be found elsewhere in the Lake District. The hotel was transformed from a 2 star, 27 bedroom hotel, to a luxurious and contemporary 41 bedroom, 4 star property. The Hotel subsequently won small hotel of the year awarded by Cumbria Tourism.
The Royal, having been sold, ceased trading in September.
2004 - Michael Berry dies
Chairman Michael Berry died on 14th June 2004 following a long battle with cancer. His eldest son and Managing Director Simon, took on the role of Chairman. Tributes were paid to Michael Berry by many in recognition of his dedication and commitment to tourism and local history, heritage and community work.
2005 - Lancaster House Re-development
In May 2005 Lancaster House completed a £3 million extension and re-development programme consisting of a new conference and banqueting suite, almost doubling the hotel's capacity, 19 new luxury bedroom suites, plus expansions to the Sandpiper Leisure Club and Sandman’s Bar.
Storrs Hall achieved 4 star status.
English Lakes enjoys plethora of Awards
In June English Lakes Hotels celebrated great success in the Enjoy England Tourism Awards with Low Wood and Lancaster House winning ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ in their respective Cumbria and Lancashire regional awards.
Our properties also won:
- Waterhead - ‘Large Hotel of the Year’
- Lancaster House - ‘Business Tourism Award’ for Lancashire
- Low Wood - ‘Business Tourism Award’ for Cumbria & ‘Excellence in Business and Tourism’
In 2006 English Lakes, as a company, won ‘Tourism, Hospitality & Leisure Business Excellence Award’ for the +1 customer service initiative and ‘Best Family Business’ at the Coutts Awards.
In 2007 Low Wood went on to win the 'North-west Tourism Awards' .
Wild Boar Woods
72 acres of woodland adjacent to The Wild Boar were purchased to give the Inn its own private woods for exclusive use of guests.
Low Wood Marina Opens
The Low Wood Marina was an exciting new development, providing Lake Windermere with an exceptional new boating facility.
2008 - Low Wood hosts The Great North Swim
In 2008 the first ever Great North Swim was held at Low Wood Bay with over 2000 open water swimmers taking part. David Neale joined the company as Commercial Director at the end of the year.
2009 - The Midland joins English Lakes
The Midland, in Morecambe, joined the group in 2009. The hotel was highly commended ‘Large Hotel of the Year’ in the Lancashire and Blackpool Tourism Awards for 2009/10. Also, The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) awarded the Hotel an award for its high architectural standard and for making a substantial contribution to the local environment.
Redeveloped Wild Boar Reopens
The Wild Boar was reopened after an extensive development to 17 feature and luxury rooms, and Grill and Smokehouse additions.
English Lakes helps Nurture Lakeland
English Lakes reached an impressive figure of £100,000.00 raised by the group for Nurture Lakeland to help aid their conservation work for the local environment.
English Lakes rebranded
The company name and all properties benefited from a rebranding exercise which included the company becoming English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues to better reflect the groups market position and future plans.
Convention Centre Approved
In May 2012 the Lake District National Park Authority decided in favour of their officer’s findings by a 12 to 1 majority and passed the plans for a Low Wood Bay Convention Centre.
English Lakes celebrates 60 years
After many great milestones, accolades and awards, the Berry family were able to celebrate 60 years of being involved in the hotel and leisure industry in 2012.
English Lakes ends management of Storrs Hall
After 10 years English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues decided not to continue the joint venture agreement with Storrs Hall Hotel Ltd. Simon Berry said "We have had a good ten years at Storrs however we have decided at a strategic level to focus on our owned properties where we have full control over direction and investment".
Promotion to the board for new Finance Director
Matt Wilkinson who joined the company in August 2001 was appointed to the Board of Directors in September 2013.
The Midland celebrates 80 years
The Midland Iconic Art Deco Hotel celebrated its 80th anniversary with several exciting events throughout 2013.
The Midland gets AA Rosette
The Midland attained an AA food rosette in recognition of its food preparation, use of wholesome ingredients and service to guests.
English Lakes properties get Gold
Each of our five properties achieved Gold certification for excellence in the Green Tourism Business Awards with the elevation of both Waterhead and The Midland joining our other three properties with the highest level awarded by Green Tourism.
The Wild Boar - Pub of The Year Silver
The Wild Boar won Visit England Tourism Pub of the Year Silver Award.
Vintage - Event of The Year
The Midland came runner up for Visit England Event of the Year award for Vintage by the Sea.
Waterhead - Large Hotel of The Year
Waterhead won large hotel of the year at Cumbria Tourism Awards.
Family Business of The Year
English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues won Family Business of the Year.
Lancaster House celebrated its 25th birthday.
World Class Resort Plans
‘Low Wood Bay closed in January 2017 for major re-development and re-opened in April 2017 as the Lake Districts first resort.
Best Celebration Venue
The Midland in Morecambe was awarded Best Celebration Venue 2017 in the Bay Living Awards. Whether it is a family enjoying Afternoon Tea at The Midland, a stylish Wedding, birthday cocktails in the Rotunda Bar, a romantic anniversary dinner overlooking Morecambe Bay – whatever the occasion, we are delighted to be able to host these special moments.
Our fully accredited Culinary Academy, a two year apprenticeship programme for would-be Chefs, was launched. The students spend four days a week in the kitchen and one day a week off-site under the tuition of Steven Doherty, internationally acclaimed Chef. We look forward to seeing a new generation of creative Chefs emerge from our kitchens.
The Wild Boar was awarded five-star guest accommodation status.
Ten Years of Style and Sophistication
The Midland celebrated ten years since its refurbishment and re-opening. To mark the occasion, they created their own gin - Seahorse No. 10. The hotel has gone from strength to strength, introducing an annual Seafood Festival, hosting Vintage by the Sea and serving over 20,000 Afternoon Teas each year.
Family Business of the Year
English Lakes Hotels Resorts & Venues were named Family Business of the Year in the Large Hotels, Leisure and Tourism category at the Cumbria Family Business Awards.
Low Wood Bay Adds New Restaurant
Blue Smoke on the Bay, a new dining experience serving dishes cooked over a wood-fired grill, was opened.
Family Member Joins the Board
Ben Berry, son of Simon Berry, was appointed to the Board of Directors in June 2018.
September 2018 – The Spa Opens at Low Wood Bay
The Spa and indoor thermal area opened. Hosting rustic and stylish treatment rooms with a variety of body treatments using well-known ESPA products as well as own brand, Berry&Birch, products. The indoor area includes a dry salt room, coconut steam, herbal lounge, heated thermal current pool and relaxation lounge.
March 2019 – Winander Club Opens at Low Wood Bay
The Winander Club opened to exclusive guests and offers 29 stylish bedrooms and suites with earthy tones and textures, full air conditioning and underfloor heating. The Winander Club provides ‘next level’ luxury with a private bar and breakfast area just for club guests.
April 2019 – Outdoor Thermal Area Opens at Low Wood Bay
The outdoor thermal area opened for guests and health club members. Offering modern and high-end facilities including a heated outdoor pool, hot tubs, sauna, fire pit and drinks service.
BBC North West ran a series on some interesting family businesses in the North West of England. Members of the Berry family were interviewed by Roger Johnson discussing the history and future of English Lakes Hotels as well as tourism in the World Heritage Lake District.
July 2020 - Grand Reopening of Hospitality
July 4th 2020 signals the reopening of the Hospitality sector following the Covid Lockdown. English Lakes marked this date with the firing of the canon from the Jetty at Low Wood Bay.