Hotel will be Sandy Park's 'crown jewel'
Exeter Rugby Club chairman and chief executive, Tony Rowe OBE, says work on the new £36 million Sandy Park Hotel is progressing as planned - and that the complex remains on course to open its doors in early December.
Despite the disruption being caused across the globe by the Covid-19 pandemic, construction of the new state-of-the-art, 250-bed, nine-story development is continuing apace.
The towering structure, which initially got underway in January 2020, dominates the skyline in and around Sandy Park and is what Rowe himself describes himself as the ‘crown jewel’ in helping take the business to the next level.
“Things are looking good and we’re still very much on target to open in early December,” said Rowe. “They are just putting into place now the top floor, which will be the restaurant, and we should have the framework for all of that in place by the end of February.
“Elsewhere, all the rooms on three of the floors are now constructed and by the end of this month we will have two sample rooms fully completed, including beds and bedside tables, all fitted out for Marriott to sign off.”
Rowe is delighted with the progress that is being made, particularly during a time when so many other businesses are feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s not been easy and there have been a lot of challenges along the way,” added Rowe. “The pandemic has certainly played its part, but we’ve being taken a lot of precautions with the sub contractors, guys have been working in small pods, and although we’ve had a few go down with it, thankfully we’ve had nothing too serious.
“It’s also delayed some of the materials, including the steel for the bridge connecting the hotel to the car park, but that’s now in the country and we’re cracking on with things as best we can.”
Should the development continue as it is, the opening of the hotel - which will come under the worldwide Courtyard by Marriott brand - will provide another key asset in the portfolio of Sandy Park, which research has shown will benefit hugely from the ability to accommodate visiting customers and clients.
“It will be the crown jewel,” continued Rowe. “One of the challenges we had at Sandy Park initially was that our rooms weren’t big enough. We rectified that five or six years ago by expanding the main building, but even then we were not picking up certain business because we had no hotel and people wanted to stay on site.
“Therefore, we decided before we look to build more conferencing and meeting space, we needed to build a hotel. That’s what we have done and then our next project will be to build on the South End, including the 1,000-seater auditorium.”
As Rowe points out, the new four-star Sandy Park Hotel will not only be a huge asset to Exeter Rugby Club, but also to the local area which has been crying out for some time to have a hotel of this kind serving the region.
The basement floor will house a gymnasium and area for delivery facilities, while above that there will be two floors of accommodation with the fourth floor housing the reception area, which will include a small bistro and bar area for 120 people, together with conference and function facilities.
There will be four more floors of accommodation above the reception area with the hotel topped off with a 140-seater Steak and Fish restaurant, together with a rooftop cocktail bar that will have stunning views down the River Exe Estuary and parts of Dartmoor.