HOTEL bosses are already looking for guests for their luxury, taxpayer-funded Hilton – despite building work coming to a halt and no date set for its completion.
Guests are invited to a “stunning” facility at the home of Hampshire cricket, complete with a Marco Pierre White restaurant, golf bar and upmarket Hilton Eforea Spa – even though the construction site is locked up with no date set for the hotel doors to open.
Work on the four star Hilton – backed by £27m of tax payers’ money – stopped suddenly in October when contractors Denizen went into administration leaving it only 75 per cent built.
As reported yesterday, there is no guarantee when work will recommence and fears that the costs are spiralling dramatically behind the scenes as the delays mount up.
But a website called hiltonhotelsouthampton.co.uk says guests can look forward to an “indulgent and luxurious experience when it opens in 2014”.
Visitors to the web page are invited to check for room availability – only to then be told that the hotel is “not currently taking bookings”.
The Co-operative Bank is paying for the upfront cost of the hotel and is responsible for finding new builders. Eastleigh Borough Council is underpinning the scheme by handing over a set fee once the project is completed – and bosses are adamant they will not pay a penny more.
The website features a series of stunning images of what the hotel is destined to become – as well as a computer generated “fly-through” video of the ground itself in its completed state.
A Marco Pierre White eatery will be “all about the experience; the buzz, the atmosphere and enjoying the company of friends and family in gorgeous surroundings”. It says that the Michelin-starred chef is “proud” to open the restaurant at The Ageas Bowl.
The hotel, currently a closed-off building site surrounded by scaffolding and patches of white tarpaulin, is also being marketed as “the premier wedding venue in Southampton” capable of providing “extensive event facilities” for between ten and 500 guests.
A Twitter account for the Hilton, which had not been updated for 126 days, was finally updated yesterday telling its 47 followers: “We appreciate we have been very quiet with updates lately but please bear with us. We will provide updates as soon as possible.”
Once the hotel is built, Eastleigh Borough Council will take up a low interest £27.4m loan from the Public Works Board – easily available to local authorities – before transferring it to Co-op.
Up to £4m of that will be transferred initially once the shell has been finished before the remaining £23.4m is handed over on completion.
The council has already paid £1.1m to buy land under the hotel.
Interstate will take a yearly management fee for operating the Hilton while the council will charge a basic rent and take any further profit made above the management fee.
Civic chiefs aim to pay off the loan within 12 to 13 years.
Hilton, the council and the Ageas Bowl all say they are still committed to completing the hotel scheme while Co-op says it is working with stakeholders to find a solution.
A spokesman for Hampshire Cricket was unavailable for comment last night.