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
wines in coming years
ndy Stevens has big plans for his patch of
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
‘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 andChardonnay.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