The Wonderous Sights of Newcastle upon Tyne

Grainger Market

Grainger Market

If you were to ask my mom what she knows about England, she would happily discuss Coronation Street – the world’s longest running soap opera.  Others would say bangers & mash or pubs. And some would love the opportunity to discuss the royal family and Kate’s pregnancy.

But how much do we really know about our friends on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. We know that London is the capital, but do you know anything about Newcastle upon Tyne?

First, a brief history. Newcastle upon Tyne was given its name because of a castle built in 1080 by Robert II, Duke of Normandy, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. Originally, the city was based around the wool trade, then coal mining, but is now a business and cultural centre.

Ten interesting facts about Newcastle:

High Level Bridge

High Level Bridge

1. In 1849, Robert Stephenson’s High Level Bridge opened and was the first road/rail bridge in the world.

2. Grey’s Monument was erected in 1838 to commemorate the Reform Act of 1832. It honours Charles Earl Grey who was an advocate of peace, civil, and religious liberty.

3. The city acquired its first art gallery, the Laing Art Gallery, in 1901. Alexander Laing, founder and Scottish wine and spirit merchant, wanted to give back to the city where he made his fortune.

4. Grainger Town is the historic heart of Newcastle upon Tyne. It was designed in the 1830s by Richard Grainger, an internationally renowned builder and developer. 40% of buildings in the area are listed as being of historical and architectural importance.

5. The Grainger Market opened in 1835 and was Newcastle’s first indoor market.

Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal

6. The Town Moor, a park just north of city centre, is larger than Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath put together. The freemen of the city have the right to graze cattle on it.

7. The original Theatre Royal opened on January 21, 1788 and was located on Mosley Street, next to Drury Lane. The present Theatre Royal on Grey Street, opened in 1837, was designed by John and Benjamin Green and just celebrated its 175th birthday.

Lit and Phil staircase

Lit and Phil

8. The Lit and Phil, largest independent library outside London, houses more than 150,000 books. It has operated since 1793 and was originally founded as a conversation club.

9. The Tyneside Cinema on Pilgrim Street originally opened as the ‘Bijou News-Reel Cinema’ in 1937, and was designed and built by Dixon Scott, great uncle of film director Ridley Scott.

10. Newcastle was the location for both the 1971 film Get Carter and the 1988 film noir thriller Stormy Monday.

Now that’s some serious history! There’s a lot to see and do in Newcastle, so on your next adventure, make sure to take advantage of Sandman Signature Hotel Newcastle’s central location.

Sandman Remembers the Best of 2012!

Urgent assignment2012 was a year filled with an unbelievable amount of activity at Sandman Hotel Group. Whether it was awards and accolades for our flagship hotel in Newcastle, UK, the launch of our mobile app for the iPad and Android, amazing press and coverage for our hotels across Canada, or the expansion of our online social media presence, there was no shortage of excitement for everyone here at the Sandman family.

Kicking off our New Year, here is a list of our favourite stories from the past year!


Sandman Signature Makes a Name for Itself

Over the past year, Sandman Signature Hotels & Resorts have been making waves across the nation and overseas. For instance our Langley location picked up the 2012 Commercial Building Award of Excellence in Hospitality from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board for being able to fulfill the following requirements:

• Does the development complement or add to the surrounding properties and neighbourhood?
• Is it esthetically pleasing?
• What construction materials were used in the overall design?
• Was it built in an environmentally sensitive manner?
• Does it incorporate any unique architectural features?
• How does this project compare to others in the same category?

An excellent list of categories to live up to, we couldn’t be more proud of their achievement!

Inn Focus

There was also great press for our other locations too! From our Sandman Signature Hotel & Suites Prince George getting front page coverage in ‘In Focus’ magazine, to our Sandman Signature Hotel Newcastle, UK getting coverage for … everything! From their décor, history, and ambiance to their highly coveted RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) North East Renaissance Award for commercial property of the year, the good news hasn’t stopped coming. In addition, the reviews keep pouring in for our Edmonton South, Toronto and Vancouver Airport locations too. Quite simply, Signature is making its presence felt in the hotel world, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for each special location!

i Love the Sandman App!

2013 also ushered in some technological treats for all our guests too. Where last year we launched our brand new mobile booking app for the iPhone and BlackBerry, this year we wanted to make sure we topped ourselves with our apps for Android and the iPad (not to mention the improved version 2 for iPhone and Blackberry).

iPad App

Many months in the making, our experts worked day and night to ensure that we offered guests the easiest, breeziest and most rewarding booking experience…and we were not disappointed. With a whopping number of users already, there is no doubt that our new technology makes booking with us fast, efficient, easy, and full of perks. Not sure what you’re missing? Here are just a few of the benefits you can get from our mobile app.

  • The ability to reserve at over 40 locations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to promotions and limited-time offers
  • GPS and interactive map
  • The ability to earn and redeem StatusPlus points towards free stays
  • The ability to view StatusPlus points balance and profile status

A Clean Sweep for Sandman Hotels in Alberta

If there is one thing our hotels are proud of, it’s our standards and service. That’s why we were elated to learn that once again, that several of our hotels in Alberta have received prestigious recognition from the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association for Excellence in Housekeeping.


Our Sandman Hotel Red Deer, Sandman Hotel Calgary South and Sandman Hotel Calgary Airport all were recipients of this AHLA award which states:

‘As a recipient of the Housekeeping Award, you are among a select group of properties that participate in the Approved Accommodation Program [and] have achieved excellence in cleanliness, comfort, and maintenance. The Housekeeping Award is a reflection of your staff and your property’s commitment to providing visitors with clean and comfortable accommodation.’

Now that’s spotless news.

Social Media Expansion

This year also saw the rise of our social media expansion across several channels. From Pinterest to Google +, Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, and the ever increasing growth of our Facebook and Twitter pages, there were so many new ways to interact with our guests, fans, and friends. We met so many new people that we decided to get to know them all even better with our ‘Share Your Sandman Story Photo Contest.’

Share Your Sandman Story

Asking our friends to share their Sandman stories with us was one of our most successful social media campaigns of the year, and we received entries from all over the world. Whether it was a story about a memorable family stay, wonderful weekend getaway, the perfect wedding or friendly service during frequent business trips, we got to see the real people who make our company a success with pictures too!

Throughout the summer months we also gave away tons of prizes to everyone ranging from restaurant gift cards, hotel gift certificates, and two brand new iPads.

Double the Luck with Lucky 13


Though it’s 2013 already, the number 13 played a huge role for Sandman in 2012. With our Lucky 13 Rewards Program, we decided to have a bit of fun and launch a campaign on Friday the 13th, called ‘Lucky 13 on Friday the 13th.’ Since there were two Friday the 13ths in 2012, we decided to make two fun videos for our friends detailing the special promotion which allowed guests to get DOUBLE the Lucky 13 stamps for every night they booked on the superstitious day. We were even lucky enough to get all-star backup quarterback for the BC Lions, Mike Reilly, to help us out.

In case you missed it all, check out some of our favourite videos, and moments below!

With so many events and activities, it’s pretty safe to say that 2012 was among one of our best years ever. However, we’re also willing to wager a bet that 2013 will be even better!



Sandman Signature Newcastle Sweeps Top Hotel Award…and for Good Reason!

Venturing to a new country is always risky business for any hotel company. Not only are you branching out from your regular customer base, but you’re engaging with entirely different nation of customs and expectations. Yet, however perilous the journey may be, when executed with patience, precision and attention to detail, the payoff can be tremendous.

A case in point is our very own Sandman Signature Hotel in Newcastle, U.K. It’s almost been a year since our flagship European hotel opened, and the U.K. reception has been tremendous. Not only have we established a reputation as the go-to destination for upscale comfort, and contemporary-cool fun in Newcastle, but we’ve managed to integrate ourselves into the local scene while also maintaining our distinct ‘exotic’ Canadian presence.

Where’s the proof? Verbal accolades aside, we recently also garnered one of England’s most prestigious hospitality awards – the RICS North East Renaissance Award for commercial property of the year. Chosen from panel of independent property experts who have seen all the ins and outs of the hotel industry, we were praised for ‘breathing new life into the last existing brewery building on the site where brewing had occurred for over 125 years.”

What the judges are referring to, of course, is our complete refurbishment of the former Scottish and Newcastle Brewery head office building. A local legend, the Scottish & Newcastle Brewery heralds as one of Newcastle’s most distinct historic sites. Not only did it serve as the stomping grounds for generations of beer makers, factory workers and beer lovers, but it put Newcastle on the map as a go-to city for deep dark ales with a punch.

Very aware of this special history and its connection to the locals, our team made sure we gave S&N the proper tribute. Hence, the RICS judges had this to say of our hotel: “While being stylish and contemporary, some of the historical elements of the original building have been maintained, including the Blue Star on the east elevation that signified excellent quality.”

Proud of our success, Director of the Sandman Hotel Group in the UK, Mitchell Gaglardi, echoed the judges’ sentiments when he remarked: “Even though the Sandman Signature Hotel Newcastle is contemporary and design forward, we were keen from the start to be sympathetic to its structure and respectful of its Scottish and Newcastle heritage. We are delighted and honoured to have won this prestigious award with our first UK site and hope our future Sandman Signature hotels here in the UK will be equally as well received.”

A top-tier award, excellent guests and the 2012 Summer Olympics to come? Not a bad start eh?

To learn more about the Sandman Signature Hotel – Newcastle, U.K., click here: