History | Old Thorns
The site on which Old Thorns Manor Hotel Golf & Country Estate stands was first documented in the 17th century, when two traditional stone cottages were inhabited by local farm workers. Over time the cottages were converted into one house, and by 1949 when entrepreneur and businessman Ken Wood bought the property, Old Thorns was a working dairy farm with a large herd of cattle.
Ken Wood made considerable improvements to Old Thorns Farm, by adding 28 additional bedrooms, a working kitchen, a large drawing room and a cellar. He also employed a farmer to tend the cattle and Ken Wood recognised the potential his land would yield in the increasingly popular world of golf, and as golf became more important throughout the UK, it was obvious to him that his land held all the attributes required of a great golf course. Contact was made with Commander John Harris, Britain’s most famous golf course architect of the day, and Harris accepted a commission as the course designer.
Harris produced the first blueprint across 130 acres of the estates land for Old Thorns Golf Club in 1976. Sadly Harris did not live to see the project sanctioned, but sanctioned it was, and Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas took over the construction of the course and saw it through to completion in 1981.
The official opening of the golf course was endorsed by a competitive four-ball between Isao Aoki, Seve Ballesteros, Jack Nicklaus and reigning Open champion, Bill Rogers. Aoki shot 69 to win, and the match scorecard was framed for posterity. Today they are proudly displayed in the entrance to Legends Restaurant.
In October of 1983, Old Thorns Golf Club attracted the interest of Mr Sakurai, chairman of the Kosaido Company, which owns and operates 25 golf courses around the world. On April 6, 1984, Kosaido Development Company became owners of Old Thorns.
Kosaido Development Company introduced a number of luxury features to the golf club and in January 1985, introduced a high-quality Japanese restaurant called Nippon Kan. The res-taurant immediately won great acclaim.
The club continued success over the next ten years until 2007, when it was bought from the Kosaido Development Company, by the Shaw family.
Since then the resort has undergone a multi-million pound development seeing numerous world-class facilities being built including a brand new 52-bedroom block, named the Alliss Family Suites, after the honorary president of the resort, and the BBC’s ‘Voice of Golf’, Peter Alliss, bringing the number of bedrooms at the resort to 86, with a further 70 bedrooms planned to be built in 2012/13.
New facilities for these guests now include a champagne and cocktail bar, purpose-built to serve the newly created rooms, offering premium beers, wines, spirits and champagnes.
In addition to the champagne bar, a brand new sports bar has also opened in spring 2011. The sports bar, offers everything you would want from a traditional sports bar, with live sporting events shown daily as well as being one of the few elite venues to broadcast sports in 3D, offering a traditional pub feel and a friendly relaxed environment to unwind in.
For hotel guest looking for a more private and romantic meal, the Kings Restaurant offers a refreshing alternative to the sports bar, offering a brasserie in the evenings and a traditional carvery for lunch.
Other new facilities at the resort include a purpose-built 26,000 square foot health club, with a 20 meter pool, sauna, steam room, state-of-the-art gymnasium, fitness studio, spinning studio, wellness area, sub-tropical bubble pool and hot tubs. And a brand new spa with 15 treatment rooms offering everything from manicures to pedicures with Decléor products and a new medi-spa offering treatments including botox, fillers, teeth whitening and skin rejuvenation.
The resort now also boasts nine conference rooms, catering from two to 300 delegates, enabling the resort to accommodate all levels of conferences. Old Thorns is also fast gaining an established reputation as one of the most sought after wedding venues in the South of England, with 180 weddings booked in 2012. The Grand Ball Room and Hampshire Suite offer either an intimate or grand setting, to suit all styles, taste, and budgets.
In 2012 the resort is 30 years old, and although significantly changed since the original vision of Ken Wood, Old Thorns still retains its heart in golf, and is looking forward to the next 30 years.