Hilton Worldwide has signed a franchise agreement with RB Hotels to open a 171-bedroom Hilton hotel at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl - England’s latest test match venue and home of Hampshire County Cricket Club.
Hilton at the Ageas Bowl/Southampton is expected to open in early 2014 as part of an on-going stadium development. The six-storey property will be operated by Sanguine Hospitality, with whom Hilton Worldwide already operates a number of properties.
Many of the 171 bedrooms and four suites overlook the cricket pitch and 85 of the rooms will double up as corporate hospitality venues on match days. The hotel will also feature over 10,000 sq.ft of events space, including a ball room of 6,500 sq.ft, while the Ageas Bowl (formerly known as the Rose Bowl) is itself already an established conference location.
“We are delighted to be opening our second property in Southampton, complementing the existing Hilton Southampton with a new landmark hotel at the Ageas Bowl,” said Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president of development for the Europe & Africa division of Hilton Worldwide.
“English cricket has experienced a period of great success; and we are excited to become a part of that in a year where Hilton Worldwide has contributed to developing a lasting legacy for sports tourism in the UK.”
“As well as this year’s signature openings, we have a successful recent record in developing hotels within sports stadia. This includes a DoubleTree by Hilton which opened in 2009 at Stadium MK, home of Milton Keynes Dons Football Club.”
The announcement follows a summer which has seen Hilton Worldwide open two flagship properties at iconic sporting locations in the UK; Hilton London Wembley, overlooking the famous stadium, opened in July; while Hilton Worldwide’s first dual-branded property in the UK, Hilton and Hampton by Hilton at St George’s Park, debuted last month at the FA’s new multimillion pound National Football Centre.
Simon Matthews-Williams, chairman of Sanguine Hospitality, said: “The Ageas Bowl is already recognised as one of the finest cricket venues in the country and we’re confident with the new investment it will also become a destination of choice for business, conference and leisure guests.
“What’s more, the development will create new jobs and increase visitor numbers which will provide a welcome boost to the local economy.”
Dave Horton, global head of Hilton Hotels & Resorts, added: “The Ageas Bowl has proved its credentials as one of the world’s finest cricket grounds and we are looking forward to being able to offer world class service at the stadium, in the shape of Hilton at the Ageas Bowl / Southampton.
“This upscale hotel will strengthen our brand’s ties with top sporting locations in the UK, and extend our offering for visitors to the South Coast of England.”
The hotel is also targeting leisure travelers for many of whom Southampton is a familiar destination; over one million cruise passengers pass through the city every year while the Southampton Boat Show attracts 118,000 visitors on an annual basis.
Back in 2010, BigHospitality reported that MacDonalds Hotels, Meridian Leisure and Shire Hotels had launched an application for a judicial review of the Eastleigh Council-funded £32m development, after plans for the construction of a hotel on the site were overturned.
This time around, specialist hospitality builder Denizen Contracts secured in excess of £27m for the Hilton development, the majority of which was provided by the Co-operative Bank. The project will be built by Denizen Contracts and is anticipated to take 18 months to complete. Work is expected to start on site within the coming weeks.