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Devon island homes plan for hotel staff

The owners of Burgh Island Hotel, a luxury Devon hotel on a private tidal island, plan to build employee accommodation to counter high local property prices and help it retain staff.

When the tide’s in a sea tractor carries people to the world-famous hotel opposite Bigbury-on-Sea in South Hams, South Devon. It’s where Agatha Christie stayed at a beach house built as a writer’s retreat, producing two novels set there, ‘Evil Under the Sun’ and ‘And Then There Were None’. The Beach House is now a sophisticated and modern beach retreat commanding high prices.

But it’s the cost of local housing for employees which is currently taxing hotel owner Giles Fuchs, who has decided building accommodation for them is the only answer to a property boom which has seen the average price of a local property exceed £418,000.

And it’s not just that. The unique location of the hotel means that staff required on site must negotiate with Mother Nature and those tides. Fuchs says having staff able to stay 24-7 will allow the hotel to operate more efficiently and provide a benefit for employees.

The staff housing plan is part of an £8 million refurbishment scheme including a package of sustainability projects, so the hotel has a low carbon future. He has submitted plans to South Hams Council for staff accommodation on the island and mainland, alongside extension and renovation of the buildings there.

Industrialist and filmmaker Archibald Nettlefold built the hotel in art deco style and by the 1930s it was attracting some famous names, not just Agatha Christie. Guests in that era included Lord Mountbatten, Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson, Winston Churchill, Noel Coward and aviator Amy Johnson.

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