Approached by an owner wishing to build a large five–star hotel in London's Green Belt, ReardonSmith designed a scheme intended as a world-first – a luxury hotel and spa that would be mainly underground. The location was Hersham Golf Club in Surrey, England with its gently undulating course. Just one level of public area was to be at grade, concealed by a living green roof that mimicked the surrounding terrain, merging it into the landscape. The balance of the hotel – 198 guestrooms together with the spa were placed below ground, constructed in three "rings" around 800m² gardens that would allow light to permeate their façade.
The ground–level public spaces framed the golf course and landscape to create an unparalleled and luxurious dining, hotel and golf club experience. The entire development was set back from local residential areas and positioned within an enclave of existing woodland to obscure it from the local residents' view. With a gross area of approximately 20,000m², ReardonSmith's hotel and golf club scheme returned open space to the greenbelt and represented substantially less built–up hard surface than the existing clubhouse and car parking, with the latter relocated to an underground garage.
A new access road, carefully woven into the terrain, was planned to better manage traffic flow, while extensive re–vegetation and improvements to public footpaths were designed to further enhance the locale. Combined heat and power generation, heat exchangers, ground source heat pumps, grey water recycling and rain water harvesting were incorporated into the plan to minimise the building's carbon footprint and significantly reduce resource demands in comparison to conventional five–star hotels.