UK: Watergate Bay Hotel has acquired the the Sands Resort property in Cornwall, which it will covert into an aparthotel under its Beach Retreats brand.
The Sands Resort, which sits on a 10 acre site just a mile from Watergate Bay Hotel, will be developed into an aparthotel aimed predominantly at the leisure market under the Beach Retreats brand. The 72-key aparthotel will be developed with the addition of 24 lodges on the prime coastal site.
The idea that aparthotels can thrive out of the urban environment, is a vision Ben Harper, group managing director at Watergate Bay Hotel, Beach Retreats and Another Place, has nurtured for a long time.
Harper spoke to SAN about the new concept: “The vision for this was born out of the SACO, edyn, Locke story and I’ve had this vision for more than 10 years now and I instinctively knew it would translate to a leisure audience across the UK.”
Harper added: “This is a big moment for Beach Retreats. Sites with development potential of this kind are rare and, three years after developing our strategy to expand the Beach Retreats business into developing and managing coastal aparthotels, we’re thrilled to acquire this property and deliver our vision to blend the best of self catering with hotel hospitality. The past few years have taught us that the sector is ripe for a strong brand which offers the lifestyle-led, leisure-driven outdoor offerings guests are looking for. This acquisition will fuel our ambition to create a leading lifestyle self-catering brand.”
The project will be supported by Barclays. Jim Turner, director, hospitality and leisure, Barclays Corporate, said: “Given our longstanding commitment to the UK Hospitality sector, it was a natural fit for Barclays to support Beach Retreats with funding for this innovative concept. As the home leisure market continues to evolve to compete with the best of global hospitality and as consumers become ever more demanding, the financing will help Beach Retreats deliver a high quality development to complement the Cornish coastline.”
The property, which has direct access to the beach, will be operated by Beach Retreats. The brand works with owners, second home owners and small scale developers to manage and market their properties on the coast. This is the first acquisition for Beach Retreats.
The aparthotel will offer 72 apartments including studio, two-bed and three-bed apartments. There will be leisure facilities including a tennis court, indoor and outdoor pool, family play experiences, and a gym. There will also be an F&B offerings and guests will be able to make use of the Watergate Bay Hotel F&B offerings, just one mile away.
The new aparthotel will target couples, groups and families. In addition to the leisure market, the group will be targeting corporate retreats and events business, along with the emerging work-from-anywhere/relocation segments.
Ben Harper said: “Within the context of an aparthotel – and based on a spirit of community and bringing local partners into offer the spaces – we will offer a local restaurant and cafe and have local partners offering the sports element of what we do. There will be spaces available to the community and general public.”
Harper told SAN that once this aparthotel is up and running, there is room for other opportunities across the UK: “The brief is walking distance to a beach – and we are excited to roll it out to any appropriate market to any location – Devon, the south coast, Suffolk and Northeast and Northwest or Wales. We are hoping to do more and we are taking a flexible approach to that and in order to roll out these concepts – we will look at management and partnership opportunities.
Already in the pipeline for the Beach Retreats brand is a development in west Cornwall in Hayle (seven miles northeast of Penzance), which is due to open in 2024. The Beach Retreats brand has a strong pipeline and the team is working with investors and developers to add to its portfolio.
When asked about the possibilities of outside of the UK, Harper said: “We will take one step at a time, and the Beach Retreats brand will focus on the UK.”
Beach Retreats will operate Sands Resort within the current hotel model until the changes are made. The development will be in line with the company’s existing ESG strategy. The group is currently being assessed for B Corp status, which it hopes to achieve in the new year, until then it will keep running on its philosophy of people and sustainability.
Ben Harper talked to SAN about his leisure aparthotel concept last year.