Southern Grove unveils new concept ‘autonomous’ city centre apartment hotel
Developer Southern Grove has today revealed details of its first autonomous, city centre apartment hotel.
The £5m scheme, named ‘The Workshops’, represents a new hospitality concept for short-term city lets featuring ‘hands-off’, self-contained apartments. These will be let under Southern Grove’s burgeoning hospitality division.
The development in Garden St, Sheffield, is an offshoot of a student accommodation scheme built on the same site by Southern Grove’s sister company, the PBSA specialist Future Generation.
The additional short lets will add 19 serviced apartments to Steel City’s 324 student bedrooms. Guests will be able to book online, receive a code and access the apartments without talking to a single person.
During term time, the apartments — designed by Axis Architecture — will mainly be used by parents and friends visiting student tenants. This means the scheme will benefit from a captive market, producing a robust occupancy rate that straddles the traditional peak and off-peak tourist and holiday seasons.
The project is being spearheaded by Tim Barrett, who is leading Southern Grove’s hospitality team having joined the company from hotel group Marriott. It is believed to be the first development of its kind in Sheffield and will be constructed behind the historic red-brick facade of an old workshop, which is being retained and restored. The building’s large windows pose one of the biggest design challenges and will largely dictate the position of interior walls.
The Workshops development was originally borne out of a plan to make it easier for students to stay in touch with loved ones while at university. This coincides with Future Generation’s unique approach to mental wellbeing, which sees all staff working at its PBSA schemes obtaining either a Level 1 or Level 2 Certificate in Mental Health Awareness, awarded by Training Qualifications UK (TQUK).
Southern Grove will begin tendering for a construction contractor next month.
Andrew Southern, chairman of Southern Grove and Future Generation, said:
“The irony of unveiling an apartment block, half way through a pandemic, where guests don’t have to see anyone else hasn’t escaped us.
“Clearly social distancing wasn’t what we had in mind when we conceived of The Workshops but these units do operate almost independently. They are completely self-contained and can be accessed by guests without any human interaction.
“The lower staffing costs are a deliberate strategy. Guests get a premium product at a price they’re not expecting.
“A lot of people realise they pay a hefty fee to stay in city centre hotels and are aware that much of that cash is being used to pay staff when they barely spend any time there.
“Steel City Phase 3 has no staff and the only other visitors, besides guests, will be the cleaners who reset the apartments between stays. We think this is part of a bigger trend towards better value accommodation where money isn’t wasted on things guests don’t value.”