It's a date: Hilton to open in Exeter soon
CONSTRUCTION work is nearing completion on Exeter's newest hotel.
The Hampton by Hilton at Exeter Airport opposite the Flybe Training Academy will open on April 29.
Contractors Denizen are due to hand over the building just before Easter, leaving a month for hotel staff to put the finishing touches to the 120-bedroom venue and undergo training.
General manager Simon Fordham said a healthy number of bookings were already coming in from companies, foreign coach tour operators and even an avid plane-spotter.
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And despite rapid growth in the number of hotel bedrooms in Exeter in recent years, he is confident there will be strong demand from corporate and leisure customers.
"We are working with some local corporates and have some contracts set up with them," said Simon.
"Flybe will be taking 40 to 50 rooms a night and we have started to take some coach-tour bookings for parties from Germany and Austria exploring the Westcountry.
"Exeter is a thriving city. I used to work for Whitbread and I know Premier Inn wouldn't be opening two new hotels in the area, in addition to the two they already have, if they weren't going to be successful."
Global giant Hilton already has three hotels in Bristol but the Exeter venue will be its first in the South West peninsula. The brand's popularity with international travellers is expected to help entice more overseas visitors to stop off in Exeter, partly as a result of the Hilton HHonors loyalty programme.
"I think the city is going to be more vibrant – it's the gateway to the South West and a leisure destination, unlike other airport hotels like Gatwick for example, because there are other things to do while you are here."
A 10-strong management team is already in place and will soon be joined by the 40 people recruited to work across the hotel and its 96-cover Marco's New York Italian restaurant, which Simon hopes will prove popular with residents and people working nearby.
He added there had been a great response to the hotel's recruitment drive and he was delighted with the calibre of staff hired, including six apprentices.
"More than 100 people came to the recruitment days we held and we have been able to pick and choose the best of the best," said Simon.
Planning permission has already been granted for a 40-bedroom extension to the hotel, which will be built once the company's initial turnover and occupancy targets have been reached.
Video: Simon Fordham discussing the hotel