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Spectacular renaissance for historic Westminster hotel

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St Ermins Hotel WestminsterThe Grade 11 Listed historic St Ermin’s hotel in Westminster is in the final stages of a £30 million refurbishment and extension project which sees it relaunched as a four-star deluxe hotel by new owners Amerimar Enterprises.

The building has been a hotel since 1900 and most recently a 275-room property owned by NH Hotels. The revamped St Ermin’s will have 331 rooms, including 81 in a new wing being created through the conversion of an adjoining former office building purchased in order to restore the complete horseshoe of the original Victorian mansion block.

Main Contractors are John Sisk and Sons; Project Managers are St Ermin’s Hotel; Architects are Tony Farrell & Associates; Quantity Surveyors are Gardiner & Theobald; Structural Engineers are Price & Myers and Services Engineers are Building Services Group.

The refurbishment of the main building is just being completed, with the new wing due for completion in December 2011. Due to the hotel’s Listed status, certain works have required planning and listed building consent.

Within the main building, the works have included the refurbishment of public areas. Original interiors by theatrical designer J P Briggs have been carefully restored, while a modern new look by LA designer Dayna Lee has also been introduced, offering guests a contemporary version of ‘The Grand Tour’ inspired by the English great house style.

The horseshoe-shaped building’s front courtyard has been remodelled and landscaped, recreating the original courtyard garden to provide a distinct sense of arrival, and has a drive-in entrance. Inside, the grand double-height lobby, which features rococo plasterwork, an ornate curving staircase and wrap-around balcony, has been redesigned to create is seen as a “warm, homely, welcoming and non-corporate” feel.

Within the main building the works have also included the phased strip out and soft refurbishment of the hotel’s original 277 bedrooms and corridors, including upgrading and modifications to selected rooms, the replacement of selected windows and mechanical, electrical and plumbing works.

Guestrooms start from 18 sqm and have a warm colour palette of green, brown, purple and red. Rooms have king-size beds, work desks with multinational plug sockets, wired and wireless internet access, 37-inch flatscreen TVs, iPod docking stations, minibars, tea and coffee-making facilities and safes.

There are also 40 suites measuring up to 60 sqm, 18 family rooms and 53 executive rooms, as well as an executive lounge. In addition, the works include the conversion of an existing six storey office wing into 81 new bedrooms and the construction of a new five storey curtain walled link block between the new wing and the existing bedrooms in the original building. The works include the strip out of the original interior, the installation of new partitions, fixtures, fittings and building services, the creation of a new gymnasium area and the addition of a green Sedum roof. Further works include  the formation of a new lift shaft and the installation of new lifts.

Throughout the works, specific restrictions apply to access to various areas of the site as the hotel has remained operational during the contract (with the exception of the period taken for the forecourt and entrance works).

It is the first venture in Europe for Amerimar, which owns and operates 15 hotels in the USA including the Hotel George in Washington, Hotel Derek, Houston and the Hutton Hotel, Nashville.

Jon Cummins, Amerimar’s chief operating officer said: “It’s rare to find such an interesting and characterful building in such a prime position. We like to develop really distinctive, individual hotels – always one of a kind – so are enjoying making this grande dame beautiful and relevant again while celebrating her rather colourful history and dramatic original styling.

“Our aim throughout is to allow the quirky and characterful aspects of The St Ermin’s to shine through – she has quite a colourful past – whilst bringing her right up to date in terms of design, comfort and service for our guests.”

The property has a rich history, being the base for MI6 and Winston Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the Second World War.

St Ermin’s is built upon the site of a 15th century chapel dedicated to St. Ermin (a derivation of St. Armel.) In the mid to late 19th century, Westminster underwent great changes and expansion, resulting in the creation of St. Ermin’s Mansions in 1889, the building that now forms the basis of St. Ermin’s Hotel.

In 1899, the mansions were converted into a hotel, involving the redesign of the interiors. This work was undertaken by the famous Victorian theatre designer J.P. Briggs, who created a dramatic collection of reception rooms, including a majestic lobby featuring a white stone staircase, carved balustrade and crystal chandeliers. Even then, the owners of St. Ermin’s understood that modern technology enhanced the guest experience, with the installation of telephones in all bedrooms, rather than an antiquated bell system.

St. Ermin’s has continued to play an important part in London’s history, with 1950’s spy Guy Burgess rumoured to have used one of Whitehall’s network of tunnels to smuggle important documents from the Foreign Office to St. Ermin’s Hotel.

John Sisk & Son is part of the Sisk Group of construction companies founded in Ireland in 1859.

Sisk is a national building contractor serving customers throughout the UK. The company’s UK turnover is £300m and they offer expertise in a broad range of sectors including: hotels & leisure; commercial; retail; residential apartments; industrial; health & education; process industries; public works; energy; rail support infrastructure; civils and major projects.

Trafalgar Construction

Trafalgar Construction are experienced in acting as a main contractor in order to establish and maintain the tight control and supervision essential for the success of any project. They are pleased to enter into a negotiated contract with their clients on a Design& Build basis or undertake works on a competitive tender.

Their operatives are skilled in a wide range of construction labour, including: bank men, ground workers, brick layers, foremen, forklift drivers and carpenters. Each tradesperson is trained to Construction Industry standards with recognised accreditations – including CSCS, CITB, NVQ and PTS – in their specialist fields.

Trafalgar Construction provided much of the concrete installation for the St. Ermin’s project.

Bassi from Trafalgar Construction said: “We were very pleased to work on the project, and would be happy to provide concrete installation for other companies in the future.”

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