In a world hunkering down over Brexit chaos, RiverTribe Editor Linda Duberley looks at how the town is forging ahead and ramping up on style and substance in 2019.
Make no mistake. To my mind Richmond has always been my favourite spot in the world. After five years as a foreign correspondent with the opportunity of seeing some of the most spectacular views across the Asian continent, there was only one view for me. The Turner view.
With the exception a five-year spell in Hong Kong, I have lived here for more than thirty years. My wedding reception was at the Petersham Hotel, my brother’s was at the Bingham Riverhouse which was also the location for my daughter’s christening party.
So I have never under-estimated the attraction of our community along the river.
Even so, the development of Richmond as a go-to destination has escalated far beyond what I could have expected. It is nothing short of a Renaissance.
Recently several of my business associates and I totted up the refurbishment bill for the premier hotels on Richmond Hill as little less than £10m. Coupled with the incredibly successful redevelopment of the Royal Star and Garter this makes a very powerful offering indeed.
Further down the Hill, the Ivy Café has enjoyed rapid growth – packed seven days a week, morning, noon and night. As we went to press RiverTribe heard one of the most famous brands in the UK food and drink sector, Carluccio’s is to re-brand as a premium watering hole and will use the Richmond restaurant as a test case.
This is tremendous news – not just for those of use who want to socialise locally – but because it is a great boost for the local economy as we head towards the summer months.
Richmond Councillor Pam Flemming said, “The Business Improvement District (BID) has injected new energy into the town and we have some fine hotels providing first class facilities for tourists who want to explore the many natural assets and attractions that Richmond has to offer. Shopping centres everywhere are facing difficult decisions and it’s good to see Richmond businesses facing the challenges with such enthusiasm and embracing change. I understand people’s concerns about the number of shops changing to cafes and restaurants, but these entice new people into the town and are very popular with people working from home and visitors.”
Chairman of BID and General Manager of the Bingham Riverhouse, who has just led a multi-million-pound renovation of the hotel, Erick Kervaon, revealed that the hotel’s recent launch party had an invitation drop-off of only 3% compared with the conventional figure of 40%.
“The event was amazing. We were packed out and everyone had a wonderful time. We are extremely happy with the new décor and are looking forward to another record-breaking summer.
“There is no reason why Richmond should not now go from strength to strength. There is nothing in our way and I am determined that BID will do everything it can to really establish the town as a top destination both here and internationally.”
One new resident at the Star and Garter, who moved here from Ascot and has homes in Knightsbridge and Europe, told me that Richmond seemed the perfect place to re-locate.
“There’s a lot going on here. We love the restaurants but it is also easy to get into central London and over to Heathrow. Perfect.”
The Richmond Hill Hotel’s new restaurant is sure to be a show-stopper, featuring an oval bar with spectacular lighting. RiverTribe has been told the hotel has gone for a high-end, classic style which extends across the whole building including new Georgian style bedrooms. With 13 meeting rooms and a huge ballroom, the hotel will certainly give the Petersham Hotel a run for its money in terms of corporate bookings.
Brexit may have cast its clouds across our collective sense of well-being but it is surprising what dynamic momentum can do to establish an optimistic forecast.