Buxton’s Crescent Hotel and Spa, which is scheduled to open next year, will ‘make Buxton soar’.
During a public meeting at the Pavilion Arts Centre on Monday, hotel and heritage trust chiefs explained that behind the board surrounding the Grade II-listed building, work was continuing at a pace.
Carpets are being fitted to the 80 bedrooms, the ceiling of the Blue Room is being carefully restored and the new outdoor rooftop pool has been completed.
The five-star luxury hotel and spa will be pedestrianised at the front of the building with a new water fountain installed between the Crescent and the Pump Room, while at the back there will be an electric car charging point and a bike shed.
Developer Trevor Osborne said: “I am looking forward to it being open now and playing a part in the resurgence of Buxton the economy and the community.
“We have met some issues along the way but I’m very hopeful it will be open within the year, so before Christmas 2020.”
For those who remember the hotel or the library in its former days, the building had fallen into disrepair. Workers have had to deal with the elements throughout the restoration process.
Andrew Ryan, director from the Osbourne Group, said: “It has been an uphill struggle, not helped by all the resting ground water in the building, bad, wet winters and heavy snowfall.
“There is still a significant hill to climb but I am confident the project is moving in the right direction as carpets and furniture are being fitted to the bedrooms now.
“The Ladies’ Pool has been a huge challenge for us and when you walk in it might not look any different to how you remember it last, but to do that much conservation and restoration so it looks the same has been a massive project for everyone involved.” The Ladies’ Pool will be part of the new thermal spa where treatment facilities will include a thermal pool, relaxation pool, outdoor pool, mineral bath, jet bath, sauna, steam room, salt cave, mud (as apposed to the original peat) treatment, and an inhalation room.
Mud is being imported from Hévíz in Hungary and a mud kitchen is being made in Germany. The salt for the salt cave is coming from the Dead Sea and Andrew said this was already finished.
Where possible some parts of the original Georgian features have been retained as the hotel wants to be a mix of both old and new.
James Berresford, chair of Buxton Crescent Heritage Trust, said: “The story of the restoration is so important we don’t want to forget the journey we have been on to get to here.
“The visitor centre in the Pump Room has already proven to be a huge success in the few short months it has been open so I am confident that when the full visitor experience opens in the Crescent it will connect with people.
“There is a thirst for heritage, a thirst for stories about the Crescent, and if anything we have too many stories to tell as there is so much history in the walls.” James said he was grateful to the development’s sponsors including the Heritage Lottery Fund, which has given £35m to Buxton over the years, High Peak Borough Council, Arts Council England and Derbyshire County Council.
Anthony McKeown, leader of High Peak Borough Council, said: “It’s clear progress is being made and they are getting very close to opening.
“Folk are ready to see the boards come down and the workmen gone.
“There is still a little bit of work to be done recognising High Peak and Derbyshire residents’ contribution to the project and I believe there will be a discount card depending on postcode so people can use the facilities cheaper than the going rate which will be good.”
James added: “When the hotel opens its doors the eyes of the world will be watching and this project, which will make Buxton soar, will be the envy of not just the county but the whole country.”
Following the presentation, which featured a preview of new play Deep written about a mermaid in Buxton’s water, James, Andrew and Richard Tuffrey, specialist advisor for the Buxton Crescent and Heritage Trust, answered questions from the audience.
Concerns were raised about the best spa management course in the country closing its Buxton campus before the opening of the new spa.
James said: “We are not going to give up on our training programme and I feel confident the students, even though they will now be based in Derby, will want to be part of this project.” Another asked whether, once the Crescent was fully open, more grants and funding would be needed for the visitor centre and visitor experience.
The response was ‘yes’, as there are many stories to be told to keep it fresh.
It was confirmed there would be ‘no sea of tarmac and cars’ outside the hotel as they want to keep it pedestrianised, and once the project is completed the George Hotel, which is currently Vinci’s headquarters, ‘will be shown the same amount of TLC’.