Tourism chiefs have heralded a new era for Buxton's Pavilion Gardens after the historic venue reopened following the winter break with a new private operator at the helm.
On Friday Parkwood Leisure began operating events and services at the attraction on behalf of High Peak Borough Council, following a tendering process over the summer.
The leisure operator has already unveiled its ambitious plans for the venue, which include:
· A new Pavilion Market – a reinterpretation of the traditional market hall with a mix of retail and culinary offerings featuring locally produced goods
· Refurbishment of the existing tea room – with the focus on providing customers with a traditional café environment with a sense of glamour
· Development of the conservatory theatre bars – to create a multi-use space in the existing conservatory area for drinks receptions and special events
· An ice cream parlour – a dedicated parlour where guests can enjoy real dairy ice cream
· Lakeside kiosk – with improved catering and tickets for rowing boats on the lake, train rides and other seasonal activities
· Promenade kiosk – open virtually all year round offering refreshments and the use of new outdoor seating and umbrellas
Councillor Tony Kemp, the authority's executive councillor for regeneration and tourism, said: “This week heralds the start of an exciting new era for the Pavilion Gardens.
"By bringing in external expertise we believe we can create far more interest and extended operating hours for visitors, as well as reducing the financial burden on the council tax-payer.
“As the new operators, Parkwood Leisure bring a wealth of experience of the leisure industry and I think visitors to the gardens, old and new, will be delighted to see what they have got planned.
"For our part, we’re very pleased to be embarking on this partnership which offers the best of both worlds for customers – the council will continue to own and manage the buildings and grounds at this historic venue and Parkwood will deliver modern, high quality visitor experiences for everyone which have the local community and businesses at their core.
“But the council’s investment in the buildings will continue with further repairs to the conservatory in particular planned over coming years and, gradually, we will be extending the historically authentic ‘new’ colour scheme throughout the complex.”
Coun Kemp said initial discussions had already begun with local producers and suppliers. Ahead of the February 1 formal handover, the council and Parkwood hosted two sessions for businesses interested in finding out more about the businesses opportunities the new arrangements will offer.
Peter Fitzboyden, managing director at Parkwood Leisure, said it was "very much business as usual".
“We’re thrilled to welcome visitors and friends old and new to what we know is a valued and important attraction to countless numbers of people," he added.
“We’re excited to be able to share our vision and plans with people and we’re looking forward to a bright future for the Pavilion Gardens. We want our plans to be of benefit to the local economy and we’ve made a good start when we met with around 90 suppliers, producers and manufacturers last week to discuss opportunities for them to get involved in our proposals for new and enhanced services."
The handover follows a £3 million project to repair and restore the Octagon Hall.