Work has begun on a £30million, four-star Sandy Park hotel in Exeter – which is set to open in December 2021.
The state-of-the-art nine-storey, L-shaped, venue, off Rydon Lane, will boast 250 rooms and has been hailed as the ‘biggest commercial hotel this side of Bristol’.
It will feature leisure facilities on the ground floor and a restaurant and rooftop cocktail bar – with views along the River Exe Estuary – on its top level.
The scheme, which will be a Marriott Courtyard hotel, is the next stage in the development plans of Exeter’s award-winning Sandy Park complex.
The site is currently is home to Gallagher Premiership Rugby club Exeter Chiefs and conference and banqueting venue.
Coming under the worldwide Courtyard by Marriott brand, the facility will also boast a glazed bridge link to Sandy Park, as well as an extensive reception area, open plan bar, coffee bar and lounge.
A turf-cutting ceremony took place yesterday (Friday, January 17).
Exeter Rugby Club chairman and chief executive Tony Rowe said: “It was November 2016 when I first phoned 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 and banqueting venue within the West Country 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.”
He added that, 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 matchdays.
Mr Rowe said: “The hotel is going to take us to another level.
“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.”
Access to the hotel will be via a purpose-built footbridge from the existing stadium complex and it will include a unique rooftop glazed restaurant for 172 covers on its ninth floor.
The rooftop restaurant is described as ‘one of its kind for the area’ and will provide a ‘unique dining experience for guests and visitors’.
The basement of the hotel will provide spa and fitness facilities including a sauna, steam room and gym.
Groundworks will last for around three months, said Mr Rowe added.
He added that the structure of the hotel will be in place by around this time next year, and the target is to open in December 2021.
He was joined at the ceremony by Exeter City Council chief executive Karime Hassan, leader Cllr Phil Bialyk, and Paul Thomas, senior director of international development at Marriott International.
Councillor Bialyk said: “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.”
Mr Hassan added: “Sandy Park is widely regarded as the best place to watch rugby in the Premiership.
“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.”
As part of planning permission granted in 2018, a one-way restriction with a contra-flow cycle lane on a section of Old Rydon Lane – to mitigate the traffic changes following the construction of the hotel – has been implemented.
It prohibits vehicles travelling westbound between the hotel and railway bridge at Old Rydon Close.
Construction traffic for the hotel must enter and exit the via Clyst Road or via the stadium – and not via Old Rydon Lane.