The Salthouse : The Man Behind The Brand
From toilet cubicle cleaner to porter to business owner; if ‘coming up through the ranks’ is a pre-requisite for a successful businessperson, then Robert Gough ticks that particular box. Here our editor meets the owner of Gough Hotels, the family trading name behind the Salthouse:
At 14 years old, Robert was inducted into the family hotel business by parents Dick and Mary, when instructed to clean the toilets at the Angel in Bury! In 2017, a 51 year old Robert now works alongside his mum and has ‘Owner’ on his business card. It’s that on-the-job education, coupled with an MBA in Hotel Management, that has stood this effervescent hotelier in good stead.
“We had a vision in 2002” explained Robert. “A Victorian warehouse came up for sale on what was known as the Ipswich Quayside and we could immediately see a unique opportunity to build a 40 bedroom, boutique style of hotel, not available in the area. We had to be brave….we had to be forward-thinking; but in the knowledge that the area was destined for significant growth, we decided to be first to show our confidence in all of the plans for the area”.
And so, in 2003, the Salthouse opened its doors to the paying public; boasting duvets as standard (unheard of a decade and a half ago), walk-in showers (a deviation from the standard ‘shower over bath’) and state-of-the-art, in-room music systems.
“We had a clear view” said Robert. “We wanted differentiators and coupled with these, we reduced the possible number of bedrooms, allowing us to boast larger rooms all round. We used our experience in the industry and ensured that we could offer an accredited 4 star hotel, but with 5 star facilities and service”.
And Ipswich responded. In an unusual scenario for the industry, the hotel had a waiting list for its rooms. There was a need for expansion and so in 2008, already leasing space for the existing hotel’s lounge in the neighbouring snooker hall, the Salthouse purchased and subsequently demolished the adjoining building and rebuilt an extension, providing 38 additional rooms.
I finish my chat with Robert by asking what has pleasantly surprised him the most and what the future holds?
“I am delighted that so many local residents choose to stay overnight at the hotel for their special occasions” said Robert. The industry expects a high ratio in favour of out-of-town guests, but the Salthouse goes some way to bucking this normal trend and that’s to its huge credit
“As far as the future is concerned…..we will continue to innovate and upgrade”.
We will watch with interest.