My Live-acy, New Holgate.

January 12, 2023
5 min read
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In 2021, I realised that there had been a number of men whom I know, who are of similar age, have been dying. These good men are husbands, fathers and good guys that I've met over the last few years in York and who have kids who are of similar age to my boys.


This is really made me think about my Live-acy. What is a Live-acy? I wrote about this in my award-winning coaching book “Zero To Authentic Hero”.  I honoured John Glenn with the phrase. He was the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. John Glenn said “I’m not interested in my legacy. I made up a word live-acy. I’m more interested in living”.


Many people leave a legacy after they die but why not live and enjoy your Live-acy whilst you are still alive. So I thought, how can I use my pension scheme money to build value appreciating asset for my boys to inherit whilst producing an income for myself?


This thought stayed with me for a little while, until Christmas Day 2021, I'd eaten and drank well and with time to think, my thoughts turned to what was on the horizon for 2022. Having had a very difficult past couple of years, with covid lockdowns and my coaching business in London being severely restricted due to travel, I started to think about what I could do next!


And with that, I decided to grow a property empire.


A friend of mine, Dave had built a business of 30 holiday lets in the city of Chester which in many ways is similar to York with its walled city, historical benefits, universities, hospitals and tourism along with corporate business. So, I just decided I too would have 30 units in 2022 from pretty much standing start, to be able to drive revenue for myself and my boys.


It was a very hard way to build up a 30-unit business in just 12-months. Having got the company name, the branding, the logo and the website all built in under 2 hours, I realised that building one by one block at the time was not a sustainable strategy and that I need to buy volume.


But I knew I had my knowledge of the city of York, which has some old and tired bed and breakfast properties which had been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 shutdowns.


Fast forward to February, I then went to see a beautiful pair of Grade 2 listed Victorian townhouses built in 1864 which were located in the St. Paul's conservation area which is the only private Garden Square in York. I met the owners, Paul and Jacqui (who are legends). They have both worked in the financial services and pensions industry, have significant financial knowledge and are just incredibly amiable people to spend time with.


After a glass of wine, we agreed that I would buy one of their hotels and we sorted a price. From then, we dealt with solicitors, delays, you name it! However, by December 2022, I had the keys!


Upon purchasing the hotel, I had expected to inherit five members of staff however this didn’t go quite to plan and 2 weeks later, I had a new chef, new cleaners, housekeepers, interior designers and mentors, ready to help me transform New Holgate into my vision.


I was so pleased to meet a chap called Philip Bolton when I was MC at the opening events for York business Festival representing the Institute of Directors in the amazing 12th century Guildhall in York. He immediately offered to help, having previously been the general manager of the Grand Hotel in York for four years and he completely redeveloped the property which was an amazing old railway office building and is now the only 5-star hotel in York and one of the best in the North.


He came to see the hotel and he suggested that we just focus on Operation Christmas, before we were set to close for renovations. And that's what we did, we were full every weekend, at 60% occupancy midweek and we had walk-ins all the time. A hotel that I bought 3 weeks ago that was completely empty to one was now at 107% occupancy and that's only because of the team!


Having then closed the hotel for renovation, I hired talent from across York’s hospitality sector to join New Holgate and the journey of transforming this tired B&B into a luxurious boutique hotel really began. I also hired a series of partners who I knew could help me achieve this vision, which included Harrogate-based, award-winning interior designers, Studio Two.


Together, we curated the design, with styles inspired by the hotel’s heritage and modern sophistication and which creates a welcoming space for couples, families and solo travellers.


Once, we had the design outlined, it was time to begin the renovation and what a journey that was! It’s safe to say that with renovating an old building, things take longer than expected but it was really important to myself and the team that we do what we can to honour the history of the building and integrate its quirks into the development.


Once, we hit October we knew that the end was in sight and we would soon be ready to open, and in November, we officially welcomed our very first guests! My vision had finally come to life.


We are proud to have created a place where everyone can feel at home, from solo travellers to couples and families with dogs, there’s a space for everyone to relax and enjoy our city in style and comfort.


Yet, New Holgate’s ‘live-acy’ has only just begun! We have exciting plans as to how we can turn Holgate into a destination in its own right, take a read of my next blog to find out more.

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