Work starts on new Sandy Park Hotel
By Mark Stevens
Work has today officially begun on the new multi-million pound Sandy Park Hotel.
The state-of-the-art hotel is the next stage in the development plans of Exeter's award-winning Sandy Park complex, which is home to Gallagher Premiership Rugby club Exeter Chiefs, and the region's premier Conference & Banqueting venue.
In addition to housing 250 bedrooms, the eight-storey hotel situated off Old Rydon Lane will provide leisure facilities on the ground floor, as well as a rooftop cocktail bar and restaurant that boasts picturesque views along the River Exe Estuary.
Coming under the worldwide Courtyard by Marriott brand, the four-star facility will also boast an impressive glazed bridge link to Sandy Park, as well as an extensive reception area, open plan bar, coffee bar and lounge.
The rooftop restaurant is described as 'one of its kind for the area' and will provide a 'unique dining experience for guests and visitors', while the basement of the hotel would provide spa and fitness facilities, including a sauna, steam room and gymnasium.
Exeter Rugby Club chairman and chief executive, Tony Rowe OBE, was joined by Exeter City Council chief executive Karime Hassan, City Council leader Phil Bialyk, and Paul Thomas, Senior Director, International Development at Marriott International, for the official turf-cutting on the new site.
Today’s ceremony signals the start of the hotel build, which developers hope will be completed by December 2021.
“This is a great day,” said Mr Rowe. “It was November 2016 when I first phoned the Exeter City Council to tell them I had an idea which they may or may not like. Thankfully, they liked the idea.
“Our aim as a business it to have the premier Conference & Banqueting venue within the Westcountry and key to that is having this hotel. Because Sandy Park is out on a bit of limb, the nearest hotel is not a walk away, it’s a taxi ride away. That has hindered our business somewhat over the years, so having this development will be key to our future growth.”
As well as helping to drive additional business towards Sandy Park during the week, the new hotel will also be a welcome addition to supporters heading to the city for match-days.
“The hotel is going to take us to another level,” added Mr Rowe. “This is going to be the biggest commercial hotel this side of Bristol – and it’s also going to be Marriott’s only hotel in the area, so they are very excited at what can be achieved.”
After months and months of behind the scenes planning and development, the news that the hotel works are now up and running has been welcomed by leading figures at Exeter City Council.
“Sandy Park is widely regarded as the best place to watch rugby in the Premiership,” said Mr Hassan. “You can see with this latest investment, the new hotel is only going to enhance the facilities on offer. People are wanting to stay longer in Exeter and this hotel will enable to them to do that.”
It’s a view endorsed by Mr Bialyk, the Exeter City Council leader. He added: “This is fantastic, not just for the Chiefs, but for the city as a whole. The hotel is going to be a great asset on so many levels, not just with people here to enjoy the rugby, but also those who want to bring business to the city.”