Sunderland's landmark Roker Hotel under new ownership - here's what they have planned for the historic site

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The new owners have retained jobs and the heritage of the landmark seafront hotel.

"We want to put the Roker Hotel on the map," says Raman Sanghera, the MD who has taken over the reins at the seafront landmark.

New owner of the Roker Hotel: Raman Sanghera of Seaton Hospitality

New owner of the Roker Hotel: Raman Sanghera of Seaton Hospitality
New owner of the Roker Hotel: Raman Sanghera of Seaton Hospitality | Sunderland Echo

The Victorian hotel has stood guard over Roker since the 1840s when it was then known as The Roker Baths Hotel, so named because the owner pumped sea water into the the building to provide hot and cold showers and steam vapour baths for guests.

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Over the decades, the hotel, a fine example of an old spa hotel, has become a seafront institution welcoming countless hotel guests, diners, wedding couples, conferences and events through its doors.

And Raman, of Seaton Hospitality, say the family-run business will be preserving the heritage of the hotel whilst building its offering.

The names of the various elements of the Roker Hotel, including Poetic License bar will remain the sameThe names of the various elements of the Roker Hotel, including Poetic License bar will remain the same
The names of the various elements of the Roker Hotel, including Poetic License bar will remain the same | Sunderland Echo

Owned by Tavistock Hospitality for 20 years, the hotel was put up for sale last year after Tavistock decided to scale down its operations, with its Poetic License Distillery no longer based on site.

Seaton Hospitality owns a number of bars and venues across the region and Raman says the firm, which is based in Seaton, East Durham, jumped at the chance to own a piece of Sunderland history.

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"So many people have a connection to this hotel, it's a real magnet for the community," said the businessman, who also has a background as a senior finance professional.

"Not only do our guests have a connection, our staff do too. Some of them have parents who worked here also. I think that connection shines through in the service they deliver.

"We have inherited a fantastic team here, the people are the hotel's strongest asset. They're a wonderful staff who are passionate about their job and we want to help them deliver that."

The bar at the Roker HotelThe bar at the Roker Hotel
The bar at the Roker Hotel | Sunderland Echo

The hotel employs 60-70 people and all jobs have been retained through the sale, with the hotel also remaining as part of the Best Western Premier Collection.

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Raman added: "This hotel is such an institution, part of the fabric of Sunderland, with a history dating back more than 170 years. So when the opportunity came about to buy it, we knew it was something we wanted to get involved in.

"The business has been built on some really strong foundations, which we intend to build upon to create one of the best hotels and wedding venues in the area. We want to put it on the map and make it reach its full potential."

The Roker is known for its diverse offering, housing 43 bedrooms, Let There Be Crumbs tearooms, Poetic License bar and a grand ballroom and events space, catering as much for non-residents as it does hotel residents.

Let There Be Crumbs tearoom at Roker HotelLet There Be Crumbs tearoom at Roker Hotel
Let There Be Crumbs tearoom at Roker Hotel | Sunderland Echo

All names of its various components will remain the same and it will be business as usual in the lead up to the busy Christmas period with a series of festive events and party nights. Meanwhile, the basement restaurant, which forms part of the hotel, remains leased to Antico.

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There will be some tweaks, including new menus at Let There Be Crumbs and Poetic License introduced this week, however, the main investments will take place in 2024 with plans to renovate the ballroom and improvements to the rooms.

Raman says the team are passionate about preserving the heritage of the site, which dates back to the 1840sRaman says the team are passionate about preserving the heritage of the site, which dates back to the 1840s
Raman says the team are passionate about preserving the heritage of the site, which dates back to the 1840s | Sunderland Echo

All wedding bookings have been honoured by the new owners and Raman says Seaton Hospitality will be building on the site's events offering.

"There's no events space in the area like the ballroom here, with is high vaulted ceilings, heritage and tradition and we really want to highlight that and give it the wow factor," explained the businessman.

Poetic License barPoetic License bar
Poetic License bar | Sunderland Echo

Raman says they also hope to complement the wave of investment in the city and its burgeoning visitor economy.

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"This hotel is really unique in having a seafront location, but also being so close to the city centre and all that is happening there, such as the Keel Square developments and Sheepfolds.

"As a city, we've had to wait a while, but everyone has welcomed this level of investment and redevelopment.

"What's happening in the city centre, as well as along the seafront, is fantastic to see - and that can only drive future investment.

"Across the North East, there's a shortage of hotels with large events and conference space and we want to make sure we offer the best quality hotel, rooms and service, not just for visitors to the city, but for the residents of Sunderland, too."

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