Watchful Mary

  • Location

    Watergate Bay

  • Client

    Watergate Bay Hotel Ltd

  • Completion

    2019

  • Size

    240m2

  • Shortlisted

    Leisure & Tourism

    Michelmores Commercial Property Awards 2020

Après surf at Watergate Bay

Watergate Bay is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the ‘must visit’ coastal destinations in the UK. Our client, Watergate Bay Hotel, wanted to develop a new, unique offer for their guests, visitors and the local community.

A ‘ski resort on the beach’

It all started with memories of après ski. Our client’s vision was to create a bar which evoked feelings of holidays in the Alps. They dreamed of a crowded place, with a special kind of energy, serving great food and drink. Somewhere to host live music. A relaxed spot to dissect the day and enjoy the sunset.

Set on two levels, the new building sits on an area of rock between the cliff edge and the sea wall. The first floor accommodates the bar – Watchful Mary. A large terrace takes full advantage of the uninterrupted sweep of Bay stretching out in front.

The lower floor accommodates the RNLI Lifeguard facility and observation room. This prime location, with panoramic views, enables lifeguards to keep watch over the beach. There is also space for the Surf Lifesaving Club – a volunteer organisation providing Surf Lifesaving, swimming, ocean and beach training to children.

Having worked with the hotel previously on a range of projects, our intimate knowledge of the site and hotel enabled us to design a building that would complement the site and enhance the hotel’s image and offer.

The building is almost invisible from the cliff path and hotel. Its form follows the site contours. A green sedum roof, natural wood cladding and stone elevations allow the building to sit harmoniously in the beach-side setting.

Although the site is this project’s main draw, it also brought with it a lot of challenges:

The location, the environment; they both pushed us to think differently. The materials we used didn’t just have to be resistant to the effects of the salt air and the harsh weather, they needed to be manoeuvrable enough to get onto such a remote site.

Then there was the build itself. Construction couldn’t happen during the summer months because the beach was too busy. The team had to wait until winter to do the hard graft. In the thick of the 2017 winter storms, construction workers clung to the cliff to put 8m long rock anchors into place to secure the cliff face and lay the foundations of the building.

Alastair Wilson, Project Director

The vibrant facility has exceeded visitor expectations and re-enforces Watergate Bay as a key destination for tourists and the local community. It’s a space that everyone who lives in, loves and visits the Bay can enjoy.