This Charming family run south facing hotel is situated in an enviable position on La Grande Route De La Cote and literally a stone’s throw from Pontac Slipway: at high tide, the sea itself is only some fifty feet from the Hotels’s front gate.
The Pinto family, steeped in the hospitality industry, have owned the hotel since 1991 and the day to day management is in the hands of Aurelio and Anna. Their father Joe Pinto is quietly in the background, always willing to share his wealth of experience and to help out as necessary. When I visited he was between cleaning the attractive, heated outdoor pool and putting out the recently planted flower tubs.
I was able to chat with Anna and Joe on the patio area to the rear of the hotel – a real afternoon suntrap – and it was so pleasing to see the adjacent pristine pool area and surrounding gardens where residents were relaxing and enjoying the early May sun.
The history of the Hotel is fortunately well recorded and stems from a property built about 1830 which now forms the main part of the hotel, the sea facing wing of modern bedrooms was added in more recent years. Anna kindly lent me the hotel’s history and supporting photos and documents – an archive of considerable interest and value.
Originally the property was developed as a private residence by one Daniel Gaudin for his family and known as New Pontac. In 1845, the property became a hotel – known as New Pontac Hotel. This was the brainchild of Jean Le Neveu, described as the consummate businessman.
Under the management of Thomas Atkinson, the opening announcement said “The New Pontac Hotel is so agreeably situated like a summerhouse, that it cannot but obtain the support of the Islands’s inhabitants, it possesses all of the amenities required for respectable families”.
Whilst the language is somewhat old fashioned, the quaint description still holds good today. Over 150 years or so later. However the present hotel amenities would not have been recognisable to Jean Le Neveau, as all rooms are en-suite and the majority sea facing with almost breathtaking views when one considers the 12m tidal range which provides an ever changing scene from the south facing balconies or windows.
Most residents many of whom are returning visitors, choose half board terms as the restaurant serves “Good wholesome English style cuisine with a continental twist”. Every effort is taken to source and use locally caught fish and seafood, meat, fruit and vegetables from which the chef of over 20 years standing produces meals for discerning residents. Non Residents are also welcomed to dine in the evenings and especially to enjoy the Traditional Sunday Lunches, Parties are also welcome.
From August 1873 until June 1929,the Jersey Eastern Railway passed in front of the hotel, the route started at Snow Hill Terminus and finishing at Gorey – from where a “packet boat” could take you to Granville and then onward by train to Paris. It was possible to buy a” through ticket” and also to post letters on board the vessel. So the adventurous visitor to the Pontac House Hotel during the time of the Jersey Eastern Railway could opt for an exciting excursion, alas no longer available, and post his cards to friends and family whilst on the high seas.
The bar area contains a reminder of those days with lots of old photos and pictures displaying the Railway and Hotel.
It has to be said that without the vision of Daniel Gaudin in the 1830’s to build his family residence at Pontac, the Hotel would not exist today. However,that he did is to the lasting benefit of both St.Clement and Jersey. The Pinto family are proud to continue running their establishment with staff of many years service, and hopes to continue to do so for many years.
This article appeared in the L’Amarrage Magazine, for the Parish of St.Clement.