The World Of Hospitality Issue 12 2015 - Page 8

08 the World Of Hospitality Hilton Hotel & Spa The Opening Of Hilton’s Hotel & Spa marks the final stage in the redevelopment of Hampshire Cricket’s The Ageas Bowl. Innovative hotel design sets new standards for international cricket grounds. F or over a hundred years, Southampton city centre boasted its own county cricket ground, the home of Hampshire. However, by the 1990s the historic ground was ageing and becoming increasingly hemmed in by the growth of the city around it. In a decisive break with the past, Hampshire Cricket Ltd made a bold move to relocate the cricket ground and construct a brand new stadium. The first games were played at the new venue in 2001 and international cricket arrived in 2006. But the company was not content to leave it at that. The Hampshire Cricket board set an ambitious goal: to become the first test ground to achieve the England and Wales Cricket Board’s standard for model test ground status. The criteria for this are exacting, with minimum requirements set for playing facilities, spectator seating, accommodation, hospitality, press and media facilities, public transport, parking and ancillary services. So when the Hampshire Cricket board appointed hotel experts EPR Architects to masterplan the redevelopment of Southampton’s the Ageas (then Rose) Bowl, EPR knew the project demanded a truly exceptional scheme. Nick Rayner, Associate Director and project architect, explained, “The redevelopment marked a unique opportunity to create a world-class sporting venue to a holistic design that would set it apart from traditional grounds with their eclectic mix of stands and facilities added on through the decades.” EPR led a team of specialist designers to meet this challenging brief within a comprehensive masterplan. Their solution is truly innovative. Ensuring excellence in both accommodation and press and media facilities, EPR has designed a hotel that wraps around the stadium bowl. The pitch-facing bedrooms are constructed in such a way that they convert to hospitality and spectator use on major match days, and the second-floor central function room becomes a world-class media centre for press and broadcasting. The building can therefore operate as a hotel for the vast majority of the year, but the requisite facilities are available on match days and other sporting occasions. This highly flexible dual-purpose use makes the Ageas Bowl fundamentally unique in terms of both its hotel and stadium design. Such a revolutionary approach led to EPR being shortlisted for Leisure Architect of the Year. Having conceived a pioneering functional solution, EPR were mindful to retain a holistic approach to the entire site to preserve its existing natural landscaping. The hotel and stands have therefore been positioned