Wild Western ghost town to be replaced by luxury resort
AN ABANDONED Wild West theme park near St Columb is to be demolished and transformed into a £50 million luxury holiday resort later this year.
The saloon doors of Spirit of the West at Winnard's Perch swung shut for the last time in 2009.
Now the Retallack Resort and Spa, which owns the land, is to start work in September on an indoor leisure village, for which Cornwall Council granted planning consent last year.
There are also plans to set up an academy to train young people hoping to pursue a career in tourism.
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The Retallack Resort already has a portfolio of more than 100 five-star self-catering properties, along with a health club, spa and a FlowRider artificial surf wave machine.
Retallack Resort director Jason Keyter said: "With planning consent secured, this allows us to move forward in our detailed discussions with partners on finalising the funding package for the development.
Mr Keyter said that the holiday resort would provide jobs and training: "It's said wages in Cornwall are 25 per cent below the rest of the region.
"If we can get this development off the ground, then we'll be able to play a part in helping to combat this by raising standards and skills, providing people with meaningful qualifications and actual work experience."
The park gained widespread media attention after a series of eerie photographs were published in the national press showing how the once popular Western-themed tourist destination had been left deserted.
With curious sightseers starting to visit the derelict site, the owners have warned people against trespassing, saying the buildings are likely to be unsafe and have been damaged by vandalism.
Mr Keyter said: "The Spirit of the West theme park closed in 2009 and was a fantastic attraction in its day. The buildings are now structurally unsound and it's an unsafe area.
"The plans will provide new investment in the area and the Cornish economy. We're very excited to be able to start a new chapter in the life of this site."
Malcolm Bell, head of county tourism body VisitCornwall, said he welcomed the news.
"Although people may think fondly of the Wild West theme park, it's yesterday's tourism," he said. "What does it have to do with Cornwall? It would maybe fit in in Colorado, but it's not for here. Most people come to Cornwall for Cornwall.
"Retallack and its resorts are important providers in high-quality holiday accommodation. Lots of people prefer to go to resorts like that instead of hotels. It fits a demand in the market for quality facilities, without being a hotel, and that's what we need: accommodation across all sectors to fulfil people's needs."