Visionary hotelier WILL ASHWORTH on taking over his parents Cornish bucket-and-spade holiday business. Interview: Alex Fisher
My parents originally bought the Watergate Bay Hotel in 1968 from the MOD. It had been used as married quarters since the Second World War and was in a state of disrepair, but they had the vision to transform the property into a classic Cornish seaside holiday business. The hotel opened in 1971 and offered bucket-and-spade holidays seven months of the year. It was like growing up in a giant playground. My fondest memories are of rockpooling on the north end of the beach, which remains a small piece of heaven to this day.
I started working in the kitchen when I was 14. I always wanted to work in the hotel, and in 2000 I had the opportunity to take over the business. Having travelled the world and lived in London, I had lots of new ideas I wanted to put into practice. My aim was to take the best elements of a ski-resort holiday – active, social, relaxed, great food – and reproduce that in a beach environment. My brother, Henry, had already purchased the ice-cream parlour opposite the hotel, and transformed this into a beach sports centre and restaurant – The Extreme Academy and Beach Hut – so there was a natural symbiosis between the two businesses, and we combined forces in 2005.
Now we have something original and unique, which brings together sport, great design and contemporary food in a laid-back atmosphere. Our latest venture is the hotel restaurant, Zacry’s, which opened in March this year. We wanted to get away from the traditional hotel dining room and instead create a restaurant that our guests could really get excited about, serving the best Cornish food in stunning surroundings. I have always been passionate about my Cornish roots; I couldn’t think of anywhere else in the world I would rather live.
For more information visit watergatebay.co.uk.
"The hotel opened in 1971 and offered bucket-and-spade holidays seven months of the year. It was like growing up in a giant playground. My fondest memories are of rockpooling on the north end of the beach, which remains a small piece of heaven to this day."