Fears the much-loved Sidholme Hotel could be sold have seen a group of campaigning Sidmouth residents launch a £2million appeal to buy the town’s ‘hidden gem’.
Owners of the historic property in Elysian Fields – built 194 years ago – say they are ‘saddened’ to have to consider offloading it.
The destination is popular with both holidaymakers and the community due to its unique Victorian Music Room, with fully-working organ, and nine acres of grounds.
Now a six-strong team of townsfolk have formed the Save Sidmouth’s Hidden Gem working group in the hope of coming up with a ‘rescue package’.
Methodist Guild Holidays Ltd, which owns Sidholme, says it is ‘heartened’ by the bid.
The working group is made up of John McGregor, Mukie Gosrani, Sameer Velayudhan, Sylvia Brownlee and Val and Colin Howels.
A spokesperson for the fundraising effort said: “Following an appeal from numerous community interests in the Sid Valley and beyond, the Guild has offered us an opportunity to put forward an outline proposal, together with our plans for Sidholme before going to the open market.
“Our hope is to generate a rescue package for this hidden gem.
“In essence, Sidholme Hotel, the spectacular Music Room and its amazing grounds have become an all-inclusive lifeline for so many people in the community.
“This Grade II listed venue presents a great opportunity to retain and develop this historic hidden gem for the benefit of the Sid Valley community and those further afield.
“After an initial consultation we have discovered that the business has great potential for development as a centre of excellence for art, music and culture in the South West, as well as conferences, weddings, other events and charitable initiatives.
“Considerable interest has been aroused within the Sid Valley and we are appealing to the business and wider community in Sidmouth and beyond to see if there are interested parties with financial capability who wish to take up this opportunity, individually or as a consortium, to acquire the facility and develop the business for the benefit of our community and the people we serve.”
Methodist Guild Holidays Ltd managing director Nicola Firth said it was ‘currently considering the future of its business including a review of its assets’.
She added: “While Methodist Guild Holidays are saddened to have to consider the sale of Sidholme Hotel, which is very dear to our shareholders and long-standing customers, we are heartened by the approach of ‘Save Sidmouth’s Hidden Gem’ and are working with the group to explore their proposal.
“We are committed to exploring viable opportunities which may safeguard the employment of the hotel staff.”