A former television presenter who helped his parents transform their Brandon hotel was back on our screens last week, working his way to victory on a Channel Four show.
Matt Arnold, 53, came to work at the Bridges Hotel, run by his parents Don and Christine since 1980, after GMTV finished in 2010.
Following a six-figure refurbishment last year, overseen by Matt, the riverside hotel was featured in Channel Four’s Four in a Bed on March 19 - and beat off the competiton to come out on top.
“I enjoyed working on GMTV immensely, and the two weeks of shooting Four in a Bed I enjoyed too,” said father-of-three Matt. “It reminded my of what I liked about working in front of a camera.
“The kudos attached to this programme seems to be quite novel. We did alright so I am pleased about that, but I would have been pleased to take part just for the publicity.
“Bookings are going crazy at the moment, and after the programme emails were banging in all night long.”
Matt, who juggles working at the hotel with work as a freelance media consultant, said he had considered the family business as a ‘potential’ after leaving television.
“A few years after GMTV finished I decided to bite the bullet and bring the family to Brandon,” he said.
“I oversaw a massive refurbishment and computerised the hotel, helping to turn around the fortune of my parents’ business. Now it’s changed beyond belief.
“Loads of local tradesmen worked on it, which we’re pleased about, and all our beds come from a firm in Ipswich.”
The hotel also employs a number of local youngsters, who it helps to step up onto the hospitality career ladder.
More high-profile guests include Suede, who took over the hotel’s then five bedrooms following their appearance in the Forest Live tour last year.
However, entrepreneurial Matt is keen to expand the hotel’s appeal, pushing Thetford Forest as a desination for tourists and local families.
“I think Thetford Forest is brilliant, I’ve only been here a couple of years and have loads left to explore. Brandon is a brilliant location for Ely, Cambridge, Bury, the Fens and the Norfolk coast.”
Matt’s next plan is to put a double bike rack in each of the hotel’s rooms, boosting its appeal for cyclists, which will be in place by the summer.