Just before the coronavirus pandemic, Raglan Country Estate was about to go on the market and London financier Deri Llewellyn-Davies was asked to advise on the sale.
However, he hadn’t planned on falling in love with the place itself. When he arrived most of the buildings were closed and the golf course grass was overgrown, but something about the property and the location won him over, WalesOnline reports.
Originally from Pembrokeshire, the rolling hills of Monmouthshire were not an area he was particularly familiar with, but admiring the scenic views he saw beyond the tall grass and derelict buildings.
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“I was only supposed to come to give advice on finances, I came across it by chance,” he recalls. “It was in a pre-Covid world and it was pretty derelict and overgrown. I don’t play golf, so I have no idea about that side of things, but I could see the potential. C was maybe a little crazy, but I could see a way to bring people back.
“I just thought it was tragic for the local community that this beautiful estate was so run down. I’m originally from Wales so coming back to Wales also felt good. It’s not an area of the country that I knew but it’s such a beautiful place, I couldn’t resist. I was mesmerized by its breathtaking beauty and all its potential.”
And what it looks like now.
Undeterred by the colossal project ahead of him, Deri continued to take over the estate and set about creating a luxurious retreat in the center of the Monmouthshire country. But that was 2019, and then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“Looking back, it was good and bad timing,” he says. “There was a lot of work to be done on the buildings and the golf course and we were able to continue that work during the pandemic. It also meant we were able to provide jobs for people in the local community at a time when it was desperately needed and we were able to build the place up and after a while we opened a take out section for food as it was then allowed.”
Deri and her team now have big plans for the estate to host special events and retreats and host world-class speakers, and expand with more accommodations.
At the heart of the project, Deri is very proud of the restaurant “Calon Rhaglan”, which means The Heart of Raglan. It serves a seasonal menu focusing primarily on local foods, led by head chef Adam Whittle and there are also plans to develop gardens that will supply fresh produce to the restaurant.
This year there are also plans to add 15 premium ecotourism lodges and offer a range of new leisure activities.
Deri, who has moved into a house on the estate, says: “I don’t have a hotel background, but I have the business background and I make sure I have a brilliant team with lots of people. experience on board.
“It means I have to have a different way of thinking, but the team is committed to delivering a truly memorable experience and I’m proud to be part of all the exciting and innovative initiatives that will happen in the years to come. And it’s really I’ve worked on projects all over the world, but it’s always good to be home.
“It’s also very important to me too that we bring the local community with us. We welcome locals and hope that we can co-exist. It’s as much about tourism as it is about local community. There are 20 acres of parkland to enjoy. enjoy and we also run a Friends of Raglan program.”
Glenn Lewis, Managing Director, says: “Our vision is to reconnect people to nature, themselves and family. We lead with sustainability, authenticity, transformation and connectivity while maintaining high design standards, innovation and fun throughout development.
And what they do seems to be working as mostly favorable reviews describe it as a ‘hidden gem’ in the Monmouthshire countryside.
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