Stein expands his Cornish empire with £1.6m hotel development

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The television chef and seafood expert Rick Stein is expanding his Cornish catering empire with a £1.6m investment in a hotel and two new restaurants in the surfing centre of Newquay.

Stein's dominance in the nearby fishing port of Padstow, where he owns two hotels, a café, a cookery school and a delicatessen as well as his original Seafood Restaurant, has earned it the nickname Padstein.

Newquay, a traditional seaside resort north of Padstow, has long been the centre of the British surfing scene because of its dramatic beaches.

Stein's venture is a continuation of his partnership with his wife, Jill. Although the couple split up last year, they have remained business partners.

The couple have paid £600,000 for the 44-bedroomed Rocklands hotel, perched above Tolcarne beach in Newquay. Another £1m will be spent remodelling the building to provide 30 rooms, a bar and a restaurant ready for an opening in the second half of 2004. The interior will be designed by Jill Stein.

The Steins will also run a new restaurant at Tolcarne Beach, below the hotel, for which there is already planning permission, and they are hoping to connect the two developments with a lift.

Stein said yesterday that the economic resurgence of Cornwall was the prime reason for his investment. The Eden Project at St Austell is within an hour's drive and a new surfing centre is due to open in Newquay next year.

"Jill has always said that if we ever developed beyond Padstow we should do it on the beach," he said. "Cornwall's on a roll and we feel the time is right, so that's exactly what we're doing."