THe Burlington – Quality, Luxury Accommodation
Standing proudly on the corner of Earls Avenue and The Leas, The Burlington Hotel welcomes visitors to its 4* accommodation, offers corporate function facilities and its Victorian architecture sets off any wedding photo perfectly. Its restaurant, the Bay Tree Bar and Grill serves breakfast to the hotel residents and is open to everyone – locals and visitors – for coffee, drinks bar snacks and meals.
Daniel Sangiuseppe, co-director of Castlewood Hotels, the family company that owns The Burlington Hotel and two other hotels across the South East, sits comfortably in the bay window in the Martello Bar and talks to Folkelife about the family business.
“Dad’s dream was to have a hotel; he’d been working in the industry in the 1970s and 80s and always wanted his own place. In 1994, he came to Folkestone and stumbled across The Burlington Hotel, which was at that time under receivership. The building was stunning, the grandeur of it was amazing, and he came on a sunny day. It’s on the Leas, on top of the cliffs in Folkestone, and on a sunny day, the town just sells itself really! Dad had heard that Eurotunnel was opening in Folkestone, and that there was going to be a new shopping centre in town, everything looked really positive in terms of starting a business here.”
Family run business
Daniel and his family moved here in 1994 “Folkestone ticked many boxes; for our family it was a great place to live, it’s by the sea and close to Europe, also close to London. For business it made sense too; The Burlington was big enough and the plans for the town meant that people were coming to the area, so we could invest here, get the hotel to a better standard and make a return on it. I did my A Levels at the Harvey Grammar; we started to integrate into the community through the schools, the rugby club and so on. And, on my evenings and weekends I’d work in The Burlington, and started to learn the trade. I did everything! From working in the bar, the restaurant, at reception, general management, night porter shifts, cleaning the bedrooms, everything! My brother and I learned it all from the bottom up!
“I went off to university in London for 4 years, and by the time I returned Dad had completed a full refurbishment of The Burlington and had also bought the Abbots Barton Hotel in Canterbury.”
Becoming Best Western
As with any son coming into the family business Daniel needed to establish his role within the group. He worked across both hotels in Canterbury and Folkestone, and oversaw the Abbots Barton opening after its refurbishment under the Best Western brand. The family bought another hotel in Eastbourne to add to their collection, but then the recession of 2008 hit, belts were tightened and only essential work was done.
By 2018, The Burlington had been updated again and achieved the 4* luxury Best Western Plus rating the family had been aiming for.
Daniel continues “We have our Bay Tree Bar and Grill that adds a new vibe to The Burlington. Back when Dad bought the hotel we thought that Eurotunnel would bring trade to the town. In fact it’s not the case. People using the tunnel just want a quick place to sleep and get back on with their journey. Now, with the regeneration of Folkestone we have something that appeals to our hotel residents who’ve come to visit the area, but we’ve also got a brilliant restaurant for the local market too. It’s a trendy place for a drink or a coffee, and somewhere to go for dinner!”
Folkestone with benefits
“We’re truly local now, we’ve been here 25 years. We’re benefiting from High Speed 1, the quick train route to London, the regeneration of the town means the competition for high-quality food is fantastic! That’s what helps us survive! We look at The View, or The Clifton with Marco Pierre White’s new place, Rocksalt and The Smokehouse are great, as well as the new rooms at The Hythe Imperial. There are coffee shops springing up and lovely boutiques everywhere, it all adds to our package.
“It’s fundamental to see our business as part of the bigger picture. Visitors come and stay with us to visit Dover, Leeds Castle, or go to Canterbury or Dungeness, even go to France for a day! It’s so important for Folkestone to have enough attractions, bars, restaurants and retail opportunities. It means we can be really exciting with the food we offer – we have local produce on the menu, fish from the sea, gin, wines and beers from Kent, locally grown fruit and vegetables.
We’ve put our money where our mouth is and we’re here to stay for the next 25 years… or more!”