Bexhill’s Cooden Beach Hotel is sold to international hotelier

The popular Cooden Beach Hotel has been sold to an international hotelier, it can be revealed.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 1:17 pm

The venue, which was previously owned by entrepreneur James Kimber and his wife Lesley, was purchased by Grace Leo and her Singapore-based partner, shipping entrepreneur and hotel investor Tim Hartnoll.

It was sold off a guide price of £6,900,000 on a freehold basis.

The Cooden Beach Hotel was built in 1928 and has been a landmark feature of the coastline ever since, with its sea views and beachside restaurant.

File photo: The Cooden Beach Hotel SUS-190924-152621001
File photo: The Cooden Beach Hotel SUS-190924-152621001

In September 2019, Mr Kimber confirmed he and his wife were planning to sell the four-star 41-bedroom hotel, and were hoping to find a new owner who ‘wants to continue investing’ in it.

News of the sale was confirmed by business property advisor Christie & Co.

Grace Leo said: “Once I had seen The Cooden Beach Hotel, I was in awe of its unique location and possibilities.

“I have developed upscale resort hotels in far-off destinations like St Barth’s, Mustique and St Jean Cap Ferrat, so my instinct says that there’s no reason why we can’t recreate that idyllic resort experience in a hotel that’s on the English coast, despite the cooler climate.

James and Lesley Kimber pictured outside The Cooden Beach Hotel. SUS-190924-152204001

“Our plans are to create a haven for our guests to rest, relax and be nourished in a beautiful seaside setting.”

Grace Leo and Tim Hartnoll’s acquisition of The Cooden Beach Hotel follows on from their recent purchase of The Red Lion Hotel in Henley-on-Thames less than six months ago. The Red Lion, which overlooks The River Thames, will re-open as The Relais Henley later this year, having undergone a full refurbishment program.

Tim Hartnoll is the executive chairman of X-Press Feeders, part of the Sea Consortium group, a global shipping company based in Singapore. An avid sailor and rower, who grew up between England and Singapore, he is a global investor whose hospitality interests include the Bawah Reserve in the Anambas Archipelago in Indonesia.

Christie & Co acted for Mr Kimber, who owned the property for 16 years, in the sale of the hotel.

The Cooden Beach Hotel. Picture supplied by James Kimber SUS-190924-133553001

Mr Kimber, who said he intends to continue living in the area, said: “After 16 wonderful and successful years it is a pleasure to hand over The Cooden Beach Hotel to Grace Leo, whose design skills will capture the uniqueness of this very special location. We are very much looking forward to being able to relax and enjoy the guest experience of this truly hidden gem.”

The Cooden Beach Hotel. Picture supplied by James Kimber SUS-190924-133608001