Hotel owner says goodbye to Bognor Regis

HOTELIER David Coombs is saying goodbye to Bognor Regis after nearly three decades.

Mr Coombs is selling the Royal Hotel on The Esplanade which he has run since 1983.

He expects the handover date to be around next Monday. The new owner of one of the seafront’s most distinctive buildings, which dates back to the 1830s, will be a property company.

It will hand the running of the business to Chichester-based Matrix Hotels. The 12 existing members of staff will be retained.

Mr Coombs said: “Business is all right. Bognor has not really changed much over all these years. It’s a difficult place to work in.

“You’ll never become a millionaire but you will make a living.

“In the 80s, I decided to focus on the restaurant and in the Nineties, when there was a recession, I decided to go with functions such as birthdays and anniversaries.

“That has proved to be the most successful part of the hotel, apart from the rooms,” he said.

“The regeneration of the town is very important. It’s vital that what happens on the Place St Maur is got right.

“And the town centre needs a couple of big names to draw people in. We used to have them – Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer.

“If that doesn’t happen, then something else has to. There has to be a reason for people to come into the town.”

Mr Coombs devised the Victorian theme for the seafront’s concessions.

Mr Coombs has improved the Royal Hotel – with a restaurant and a function room - in his time there. He has added en-suite facilities to its 17 rooms, available daily and ten apartments, which are usually let for six months a time.

He has run the hotel with his daughter, Tracy Coombs, for many years but she has decided against taking it over from him and has moved to The Waterloo Inn in Waterloo Square.

Mr Coombs, 74, who lives in Liphook, said: “I feel the time is right for me to retire. It’s really a 24/7 job running a hotel.

“I’ll be spending a lot of my spare time now with my son. He used to run the Carlton Hotel, when I owned that, but he now has a bar and restaurant on the Costa del Sol in Spain. There are three grandchildren who I haven’t seen much of as well.”