Helipad to hotel for high flier

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THIS high-flying expert intended to retire after leaving Blackpool – but has accidentally propelled himself to success as the friendly face of a famous Majorcan hotel.

Geoff Hopkins, who founded the Helicentre at Blackpool Airport in 1986, emigrated to the Spanish island for an easy life.

But Mr Hopkins, who lived in St Annes, soon found himself acting as a property hunter for inspired friends who wanted a holiday home on the idyllic island after he moved there in 2004.

He is now proud owner of the Sis Pins on Port de Pollenca – famous for inspiring Agatha Christie to write her Hercule Poirot novel Problems at Pollensa Bay while she stayed there.

Mr Hopkins, who was also a helicopter instructor and flew famous faces such as Robbie Williams onto the Fylde Coast, said: “I moved out here for semi-retirement, but began acting as a go-between for friends who wanted to buy properties out here.

“I became a hotelier by chance – my friend Peter Buckley had tried to buy the hotel years ago but was gazumped, so I looked into it for him when it went into administration early last year.

“He said the only way he wanted to do it was if I became his business partner – so I did.

“At home I was known as Chopper Geoff – now it’s Basil Fawlty!”

The hotel, which opened in 1952 and was shut down after low-cost airline Globespan went into administration, has received rave reviews on travel site Trip Advisor since Mr Hopkins reopened it.

Mr Hopkins, who moved to Majorca with his wife Mandy, daughter Ellie, nine, and son Paul, 28, said: “I did love Blackpool and St Annes, but over here you have the benefit of constant sunshine too.

“There’s a good connection from Blackpool Airport and I’ve had quite a few people who have come on holiday and didn’t know I’d opened a hotel remember me.

“It’s lovely to see familiar faces.

“I took on the 24 staff who were already here, as those are the rules in Spain, but they have been wonderful. We were full last summer and are doing well this year – we can’t wait to reopen in February.”