In England, a country that is approximately the size of Mississippi, space may be the ultimate luxury, and when a new hotel opens that sweeps nearly 1,000 acres, people take note. This was the case with the Newt in Somerset, a 330-year-old property that opened as a hotel last year.
Back in 2013, an ad in Country Life captured the attention of South African billionaire, tech entrepreneur, and publisher Koos Bekker and his wife, Karen Roos, a former editor of Elle Decoration South Africa. Bekker and Roos, who also own Babylonstoren, a luxury hideaway, farm, and winery in the Cape Winelands with a staff of around 250, soon went about refurbishing the Newt in Somerset with just as much ambition. After an extensive renovation, the stylish getaway includes a hotel, spa, cider press, and garden museum. Throughout planning and construction, Bekker and Roos were bound to the strict rules associated with renovating a historically listed building, which was originally known as Hadspen House. They also had to figure out a way to protect the estate’s 2,000-odd rare newts. This resulted not only in delays but also in a name change—one that would have warmed the heart of Gussie Fink-Nottle, Wodehouse’s noted newt-fancier.