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Historic hall gets connected

A countryside hideaway nestled in the idyllic landscape of rural Northumberland and just a stone’s throw from Hadrian’s Wall, Walwick Hall is a Georgian manor house that has recently been turned into a stunning boutique hotel. A Grade-2-listed hall with a distinctive contemporary spirit, Walwick Hall boasts exceptional modern design and an atmosphere of luxurious elegance. Added to that, the hotel is set in a one hundred-acre Georgian estate, and includes a fine-dining restaurant, a state-of-the-art gym and a pavilion pool.

“It’s an idyllic setting,” explained Graeme Richardson, senior project consultant, Pulsant. “However, the very things that make Walwick Hall such a desirable place to unwind – its rural location, beautiful architecture and picturesque surroundings – are also the most significant challenges when it comes to fitting the building out to ensure it accommodates modern levels of desired connectivity.”

As a Grade-2 listed Georgian manor house, Walwick Hall has thick walls, with stringent regulations regarding the changes and renovations that can be done to the building. On top of this, Pulsant got involved in the project after most of the first fix had already been completed. This meant that wiring had already been installed, marble floors had been laid and walls had been decorated.

Despite this, the owners were keen to ensure that the technology infrastructure and connectivity implemented was of just as high a specification as the rest of the hotel’s renovations. They wanted to provide guests with fast Wi-Fi connectivity while ensuring all their sales and marketing systems – such as their wireless payment terminals and touch screen Point of Sale units in the bar area – were connected via a separate and secure network.

“Walwick Hall required Wi-Fi on two separate and secure networks throughout the hotel – including all the rooms, the restaurant, pool building and the spa,” said Graeme. “We worked closely alongside the builders to ascertain whether the infrastructure and cabling installed would be sufficient, but had to employ out-of-the-box thinking in places.”

This out-of-the-box thinking was essential to putting the final solution in place. Firstly, the Pulsant team decided to use the electrical system for part of the ground floor connectivity. This was because it was impossible at this stage to install any additional cabling throughout the building, seeing as the marble floors had already been laid and the decorating had already been finished.

Another innovative idea was related to the location of the Wi-Fi access points that needed to be placed in each of the main building areas and bedrooms in order to guarantee the speed and service that Walwick Hall wanted to provide its guests. While the logical decision would have been placing an access point on a wall in each area, the owners of the building did not want any of the original décor to be damaged or disrupted. Therefore, Pulsant decided to place all the Wi-Fi access points above the ceiling in each room — this way they were not visible to guests and they did not damage any of the building’s décor.

The rural location of the building also presented problems in terms of internet connection. “Naturally, we experienced issues in delivering a workable, fast internet connection to such a rural site, as broadband services in this area are more-or-less non-existent,” explained Mark Batson, spokesperson for Walwick Hall. “We therefore chose to work closely with Pulsant to implement a reliable, high-speed fibre connection that both staff within the building and the guests staying there could rely upon.”

The fibre connection installed and implemented by Pulsant delivers an unprecedented level of flexibility to Walwick Hall: it currently provides a more-than-sufficient 30 Mbps currently, but can scale up to 100 Mbps in the future if required. It is a resilient connection with multiple links and failover functionality in place. More specifically, Pulsant provided a wired LAN between the main hall and three secondary buildings, and the two separate secure Wi-Fi networks throughout the main estate.

Aside from the much faster and more reliable internet connection, the new infrastructure means Walwick Hall can continue to meet and surpass the high expectations of its all-important guests, ensuring their stay at the building is as pleasurable as possible. What’s more, all of this has been successfully delivered without any change in the stunning appearance of the building’s interior or exterior.

“This was an especially rewarding project to be a part of, and the team at Walwick Hall was very appreciative of the work we did. In fact, due to its success, Walwick Hall has now also asked Pulsant to provide additional connectivity for a private lodge that is also on site,” added Richardson. “We’re looking forward to continuing our work together.”

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