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Alex and Michele Kleiner at Broomhill Estate
Alex and Michele Kleiner at Broomhill Estate

Broomhill Estate is steeped in history, but its new fibre broadband connection is helping its owners realise their vision for the future of the business.

Although the hotel is located just a couple of miles outside of Barnstaple its woodland estate gives it a distinctly rural feel. That was certainly one of the main attractions for Alex and Michele Kleiner when they bought the business a couple of years ago, but they were also aware that it would make getting a decent broadband connection something of a challenge.

The hotel has been reimagined into a boutique destination by the couple and its regeneration into a sanctuary for the arts is now complete with an ultrafast Full Fibre connection, installed by Airband as part of Connecting Devon and Somerset’s (CDS) fibre rollout.

Manual bookings over the phone used to be the norm at Broomhill, but guests can now rely on online bookings for a room at the hotel or when reserving a table at Broomhill’s Canvas Restaurant.

The Full Fibre broadband has also added an extra dimension to the visitor experience at Broomhill.

Each of the hotel’s seven boutique bedrooms, which are all curated on arthouse movie themes, can stream TV and film.

The hotel lounges are dedicated to a variety of artforms, with the cinema room filled with Hollywood movie props, making it possible for guests to immerse themselves in the film they’re streaming.

Alex and Michele also own Indie music label Frictionless Music, so you’d expect a lounge devoted to music, but rooms throughout the hotel can also stream music, all controlled at the touch of a tablet device.

Alex Kleiner, CEO Broomhill Estate, said: “This is a rural part of the UK and some services haven’t been available, but to have fibre has transformed what we’re able to offer. Everything we do is electronic.

“Over the years bookings were taken over the phone. We now have [internet phone] VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Multiple rooms can stream Netflix. Music is playing throughout the property in different areas, all wireless.”

While the sculpture park was first installed in the grounds of the estate 25 years ago, today it is more closely linked to the hotel than ever before – all thanks to fibre broadband.

“We’ve got a mesh network throughout the park where people can look at QR codes to learn about the sculptures. In the past, none of this was possible,” admitted Alex.

“Fibre broadband has made a substantial difference to the way we run the business. The business would not be able to meet the aspirations we have without fast broadband access.

“We still have the original plumbing though!”

The Edwardian manor house has been a hotel for 70 years. While that past is still honoured today, the makeover it has been given provides a unique celebration of all forms of art in the setting of a modern luxury hotel and a beautiful unspoiled environment.

Whether you’re a fan of sculpture or Star Wars, visitors to Broomhill can rely on the broadband connectivity.

Michele Kleiner, Owner and creative director at Broomhill Estate, said: “We want to offer an experience with our hotel, our restaurant and our gardens. We want people to come in and enjoy the rooms which are individually curated based on arthouse films, relax in our lounges, and come out into our gardens at their leisure.

“Now our guests can stream movies in their rooms, go into our film lounge to stream a movie with Hollywood props around them, or they can access broadband for their work. They can do so many things here now.”

The Broomhill Estate has sponsored The National Sculpture Prize for emerging outdoor artists for more than a decade and continued its sponsorship through its company Frictionless Fine Arts Limited. The most recent winner was a piece titled Rituals of the Technium, by Gus Stokkowe, that combined technology with sculpture, something which wouldn’t have been possible without a decent broadband connection.

Alex added: “Broomhill has been a linchpin of the community for a long time. We’re catering for everyone who wants to bring a family to see art and sculpture at an affordable cost, to offering bespoke experiences in a boutique hotel. It’s a wide range but that’s the kind of experience we want to create.

“We’re combining technology with this beautiful environment. For us it’s a nexus of nature, sustainability, and art which can come in many different forms from an opal sculpture to designing a xenomorph outfit or crafting a beautiful piece of music.”

Bringing the fibre network to the Broomhill Estate wasn’t exactly straight forward for Airband. The installation required traffic management on the busy B3230 between Barnstaple and Ilfracombe while tree surgery work was carried out next to the road. This enabled the installation of overhead cabling to the main hotel building.

“Airband’s purpose is to bring great broadband to country communities that can enhance lives and boost businesses,” said Redmond Peel, Chief Executive of Airband. “We work to upgrade rural locations throughout the UK, but I don’t think we’ve ever experienced a location quite like the Broomhill Hotel. Together with Connecting Devon and Somerset we’ve met the challenge, and we hope this brilliant business can now become a (Velvet) Goldmine for the region!”

Councillor Rufus Gilbert, CDS Board Member and Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery and Skills, said: “This is a truly stunning location in Devon and I’m pleased that CDS and Airband have made it possible for the Broomhill Estate to get much needed fibre broadband. The experience that the owners of Broomhill had wanted to deliver has become a reality and it will enable the business to fulfil its vast potential.”

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “The transformation of Broomhill Estate highlights how investment in vital digital infrastructure can open up opportunities for businesses and communities. It’s fantastic to see the Connecting Devon and Somerset programme enhancing connectivity in rural areas, and helping local businesses to grow.”

CDS has delivered superfast access to more homes and businesses than any other broadband programme in England, with over 320,000 premises receiving access to superfast broadband as a direct result of investment by CDS.

Airband is currently delivering full fibre broadband on behalf of CDS to more than 40,000 homes and businesses in earmarked areas of Devon and Somerset. Build dates can be found on Airband’s website.