£4m revamp as Omagh hotel plans to expand share of wedding and business market
A Co Tyrone hotel has carried out a £4m revamp as it increases its share of the business and wedding markets - and capitalises on the popularity of country music.
The Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh is the town's only hotel, and has been owned by the Duncan family for around 40 years.
The 64-bedroom, three-star venue on Gortin Road has been overhauled in three phases over two years with funding from Danske Bank.
Hazel and Jimmy Duncan acquired the hotel in 1977. It marks its 40th anniversary later this year.
Their son Allan Duncan, who now runs the hotel, said: "In 2015 we started a radical three-phase development plan to bring new life to the hotel.
"We knew in order for us to remain as popular as ever with our customers, we needed to invest and keep modernising the hotel.
"Our previous event space was dated, had a limited capacity and was in need of renovating. We completely demolished the space and started again, creating a two-floor event space."
He said the hotel's event space was one of the biggest in the area.
"The ground floor level is our new event space for private hire and can hold up to 700 guests.
"The first floor banqueting suite can cater for weddings and dinners for up to 400 guests. This makes it one of the largest venue spaces for hire in the local area and will help us cater for large wedding parties."
The new events space - called Lola's - had enabled it to draw in crowds by holding bigger events.
"Live music and comedy shows in our new ground floor entertainment spaces have proven so popular that we've taken on another 25 staff," he added.
"Silverbirch has something to offer everyone and we feel it puts us in a unique position to attract business from right across Northern Ireland."
A spokeswoman said the launch of the new space had also enabled it to capitalise on the country music craze, as it hosts concerts by stars of the scene including Jimmy Buckley and Lisa McHugh.
It's also been offering guests 'jive and dine' packages and 'keep it country' accommodation packages.
The hotel's landscaping and parking have also been upgraded.
Robert McGill, business manager at Danske Bank, said: "The Silverbirch Hotel has been a mainstay in Omagh for almost four decades now.
"The owners have invested heavily in the business over the past number of years and this is a key indication of their commitment to not only the sector, but to the local area.
"The hospitality sector remains one of the biggest contributors to our economy and this latest investment is proof that local businesses still continue to thrive during difficult times."
The business has also recently launched a new app for bookings and special offers.
The Duncans are one of a number of families in the hotel business here. Last week the Belfast Telegraph revealed that the McKeever family had bought the Dunadry in Antrim, making it their fifth hotel.