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 sports bar.
In October of 1983, Old Thorns Golf Club attracted the interest of Mr Sakurai, chairman of the Kosaido Company, which owned 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 restaurant immediately won great acclaim.
The club continued to have 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 added including: The Alliss Family Suites and The Shaw Wing accommodation blocks, which now takes the hotels offering to more than 160 bedrooms.
New facilities now include a champagne and cocktail bar, which offers premium beers, wines, spirits and champagnes. In addition to the champagne bar, a brand new sports bar also opened in spring 2011. The sports bar, offers everything you would want from a traditional bar, with live sporting events shown daily.
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 25,000 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.
The resort also boasts 14 conference rooms, catering from two to 300 delegates. Old Thorns is also fast gaining an established reputation as one of the most sought after wedding venues in the South of England, with 200 weddings booked in 2014. The Grand Ballroom and Hampshire Suite offer either an intimate or grand setting, to suit all styles, taste, and budgets.
In 2012 the resort was 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.