Welsh rugby stars George North and Lee Byrne, Olympic cycling double silver medalist Becky James and weathergirl Sian Lloyd were among more than 250 guests at the successful relaunch of a hotel in the famous Welsh Marches book town of Hay-on-Wye on Wednesday night.
The owners of The Swan at Hay, a beautiful listed Georgian hotel with 19 en-suite bedrooms and banquet facilities for up to 120 people, have spared no expense on the £1 million makeover, which has preserved the property’s heritage.
North took time out from Wales’ preparations for this weekend’s Six Nations Championship match in Italy to attend the relaunch party with his girlfriend James, who lives in Abergavenny. “Absolutely gorgeous,” was Becky’s verdict on The Swan’s new look. “We will definitely be coming back.”
North said: “I have travelled through Hay in the past but never stopped. Now I have a good reason to stop and have a look around.”
Byrne, director of rugby at rugby league club South Wales Ironmen in Merthyr Tydfil and Miss Lloyd, the former ITV weathergirl who now works for CNN, are both personal friends of Calum Milne, managing director of the company that owns both The Swan at Hay and Llangoed Hall at nearby Llyswen. Llangoed Hall has sponsored Byrne in the past and The Swan is sponsoring Ironmen player Courtney Davies this season.
“It’s very impressive,” was Byrne’s view of The Swan’s refurbishment. “I particularly like all the original features.”
Hay on Wye’s Mayor Councillor Fiona Howard was also impressed. “They have done such a wonderful job and the bedrooms are beautiful. It’s going to be a real asset for the town.”
“This is a wonderful investment for Hay on Wye and we want The Swan to be the best hotel in the town with a reputation for using good, local products,” said Mr Milne, who was delighted by the local support for the relaunch. “It’s a comfortable coaching inn ideal for short breaks, weddings, special events and exploring the Welsh Marches, the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons National Park.
The hotel has 20 full and part-time staff and is managed by Mr Hunter, a Northern Irishman who previously worked at the Castle Hotel, Taunton, Heston Blumenthal’s award-winning restaurant, The Fat Duck in Bray, Angelus Restaurant in London and the Celtic Manor Resort, Newport.