HE has been a big wheel in the local business community for more than two decades.

Mike Saqui owns the Penny Farthing Hotel, one of the first buildings people see when they drive into the New Forest.

Mr Saqui bought the hotel in 1993 after being made redundant and expanded the business by buying some of the surrounding properties.

Now the 49-year-old father-of-two is selling up and pursuing his ambition to travel the world with his wife Jane.

Daily Echo:

His decision to say “on yer bike” to his old life means the three-star hotel in Romsey Road, Lyndhurst, is on the market for the first time in 21 years.

The property, which includes two three-bedroom apartments, 21 en-suite guestrooms and a 40-cover restaurant, has a guide price of almost £1.6m.

Mr Saqui said: “Selling the business now feels right.

We’ve just had an excellent couple of years and everything is good, including the figures.”

The Penny Farthing overlooks one of the main routes into the Forest.

The A337 may be notorious for its nose-to-tail jams in the summer but it has provided the hotel with plenty of trade.

“About 85 per cent of New Forest traffic comes down that road,” said Mr Saqui.

“Peoplesee us and come here – it’s a phenomenal asset.”

Formerly the Forest Gardens Hotel and Rushes Restaurant, the building had been empty for more than two years when he bought the property. Refurbishing it took 12 weeks and cost about £60,000.

One of Mr Saqui’s first tasks was selecting a suitable name for his new business.

“Everything in the area seemed to have the word ‘forest’ in the title but I wanted something different,” he said.

“We were at a dinner party when the name ‘Penny Farthing’ came up. It gives us a theme – all the rooms are named after bicycles.”

The front of the building is dominated by an oversized Penny Farthing made by a Lymington-based company called Stainless Steve. Other versions of the famous bike are made from bricks, stone and wood.

Currently rated the top Lyndhurst hotel on Tripadvisor, the business is being marketed by leisure property specialists Fleurets.

Spokesman Will Thomas said: “The property is situated in the heart of the New Forest National Park and is a profitable, well-established guesthouse with a turnover of £380,000 a year.

“The hotel enjoys a good mix of both corporate and leisure trade all year round.”