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062

063

Business

Business

Former bank CEO Andy Stevens

explains why he left behind the

world of high finance to open

a wellness retreat and vineyard

Words: Petroc McShane

The estate’s vineyard (right):

source (hopefully) of some

award-winning English

wines in coming years

A

ndy Stevens has big plans for his patch of

rural England.

His Hencote estate in Shropshire already

includes a wellness retreat and a vineyard

and his sights are now set on a successful

winery, wine tourism and international awards.

Stevens has plenty of knowledge on the subject of

achieving goals. He spent many years in the finance

industry and ended his banking career as the CEO of

Commercialbank in Oman – a post he held for more

than a decade.

It was partly his experience in this role that sparked his

interest in launching a hotel and wellness retreat.

‘I was delighted to be appointed CEO and still see it

as a great highlight of my career, but I wasn’t prepared

for how much I would feel the need to commit all of my

time to work,’ he says.

‘Suddenly work was 24-7, 365 days a year. It simply

wasn’t a healthy way to operate because I was ignoring

my personal needs.That doesn’t make you more

productive at work. In fact it can have a negative impact

on performance.

‘By chance I read an article about burn-out and decided

to do something about it, but I did need someone else

to guide the way and I contacted a specialist company.

It really helped me address both my physiological and

mental wellbeing. I changed my eating, drinking, sleeping

and exercise routines. I underwent hypnosis to address

anxiety around frequent travel.

‘As a result of doing these things I was able to achieve

a better balance between my time and the company’s

time. I felt so much better and actually my performance

at work improved.’

Set in a restored Georgian farmhouse called the

Grange, Hencote’s wellness offering includes five

bedroom-suites, in addition to nutrition advice, yoga

classes and relaxation therapies. Adds Stevens: ‘It was

also very important to me to bring together a team of

experts who could help our guests to bring about change

in the long-term.’

And, on the subject of looking to the future, Stevens

also has big plans to produce award-winning English

wines on the estate in the near future.

‘Our 16-acre vineyard has been in place for two years,’

he explains. ‘Currently, we’ve got around 22,000 vines

producing a range of grape varieties including Seyval

Blanc, Pinot Noir, Frühburgunder, Pinot Meunier and

Chardonnay.We

’re hoping to make a decent quantity of

sparkling, white and rosé from those.’

As might be expected from someone with a

background in the high echelons of business, Stevens has

done what he calls the ‘due dilligence’ in terms of the

practicality of producing wines in this part of England.

Creator of a

rural idyll