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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Josie Butchart

Hotel du Vin has been bought by Marylebone Warwick Balfour, the property company that owns the Malmaison hotel chain, in a deal worth 66 million. Robin Hutson and Grard Basset MW, who opened the first Hotel du Vin in Winchester in 1994, signed the deal on the eve of the group's 10th anniversary party in Winchester and plan to leave the group following the sale, although Hutson will continue as a consultant until the new Henley-on-Thames Hotel du Vin opens in March 2005. Basset, who is representing the UK in the World's Best Sommelier Competition in Athens this week, plans to retire and enjoy life' but will continue to be involved with the wine weekends at Hotel du Vin and will act as an ongoing consultant for the wine list as and when needed'. His number two at Hotel du Vin, Henri Chapon, has taken over control of the wine buying for the group. Hutson will not stay to oversee the opening of two new sites - in Exeter and Cambridge - that are under negotiation at present, but a Hotel du Vin spokesperson has confirmed both hotels will still go ahead as planned. Charles Morgan will continue as operations director at Hotel du Vin. Robert Cook, chief executive of Malmaison, will take over as chief executive of both operations, but says there is no plan to merge Hotel du Vin and Malmaison. He told Harpers: Robin and Grard have created something very special at Hotel du Vin and we would like to preserve that. Although Hotel du Vin is in the same vein as Malmaison, they are distinct brands so we will run them in parallel. But we want to develop the wine culture further with both groups so there will be plenty of cross-fertilisation between Johnny Walker (director of wines and spirits at Malmaison) and Henri Chapon.'