Published: 06:00, 15 November 2019
| Updated: 06:26, 15 November 2019
A boutique hotel that was on the market for £2.75m has been sold by its owners of 20 years.
The independently-owned Little Silver Hotel in St Michaels, Tenterden, was bought by Olly and Christine Johnson in 1999, who built up the venue’s high-standing on travel website TripAdvisor, also turning it into a popular wedding destination.
It officially changed hands on October 31 in a deal agreed with former Canterbury guest house owners David and Elaine Kemp, with the sale being prompted by retirement.
Olly, 68, and Christine are retiring and relocating to Devon, where they have family, and depart on Monday, putting two eventful decades behind them.
Father-of-two and grandad-of-five, Olly said: “I feel a mixture of sadness and happiness but I know we will be leaving the hotel in very good hands.
“I will miss the staff, guests and the brides, as well as the prettiness of the hotel and its quality, which is second to none.”
The Little Silver’s loyal staff include managers Charli Luke and Russell Tickner, who have each been employed at the venue for 20 years.
Built in 1935, the family home became a hotel in the 1980s and was named after a village in Devon. The Johnsons embarked on a programme of improvements after buying it, including a extension and bridal suite.
The Little Silver had a brush with notoriety in 2000, when kidnappers held a computer expert to ransom there after snatching the man off the streets of Bayswater, London.
But 200 police swarmed on the hotel before they could carry out their threats to kill him.
One of Olly’s favourite memories is of a wedding when a bride from Cincinatti, USA, selected The Little Silver for her UK ceremony after being disappointed with her first choice hotel that was booked online.
She flew around 40 guests in for her nuptials, who initially couldn’t understand why she had selected the venue.
Olly said: “On arrival at Little Silver they changed their minds.
“The hotel they said was unique and beautiful, the countryside was exquisite and they then understood why they had chosen Kent for their special day."
New owner David Kemp, 57, has had a decades-long association with Little Silver.
The qualified chartered surveyor worked behind its bar in the 1990s, while his wife Elaine supported the hospitality team.
David said the couple had some ideas for Little Silver but added: “We are very much looking forward to continuing a successful business that is family-friendly and offers high levels of personal service,”
The new owners’ first wedding fair will take place at the hotel in Ashford Road on Sunday from 11am to 3pm.
More by this authorRachael Woods