George Best Hotel fills us with enormous pride, says late NI football legend's sister
George Best would be "extremely proud" that a hotel is being built to honour the Belfast footballing great's name, his sister has said.
The former Scottish Mutual building in the city will be turned into an 80-bedroom hotel inspired by the late Manchester United player.
Liverpool developer Lawrence Kenwright, who is also planning at least three other hotels in the city, is behind the scheme.
George Best's sister Barbara McNarry said: "We are absolutely delighted to see George's legacy being remembered and celebrated in this unique way in what is such a special part of the world for Georgie and our whole family.
"Belfast as we know it today has changed beyond recognition and is now booming for all the right reasons. To have the George Best Hotel in our beautiful city where tourism is now flourishing fills us with enormous pride.
"George would have been extremely proud. He was always a pioneer in everything he did, and this latest extension of his brand is a true testament to his entrepreneurial spirit.
"George was one of the first international sporting superstars, which gave him the chance to stay in some of the best hotels around the world, so having his very own would have made him extremely proud."
The family said it is "working closely" with the developers and has "full confidence that this will be a true celebration of George's life that will be loved by fans from around the world".
Asked whether the family had any reservations about venturing into the hotel business, Ms McNarry said: "We were surprised when IMG approached us with the opportunity, however, we are completely confident that this is a fitting and logical step that helps to celebrate George as the icon he continues to be."
The agreement was negotiated by IMG on behalf of the George Best Company, which is owned by Ms McNarry and husband Norman.
Lawrence Kenwright, who has plans to turn the Crumlin Road courthouse into a 150-bedroom hotel, said his company Signature Living has a "solid track record of delivering unique hotel concepts, and we envisage the George Best Hotel being as popular as the Shankly Hotel in Liverpool which celebrates the life and career of one of the most successful football managers in history".
"The award-winning Shankly Hotel is now an international tourist attraction and our ambition is to replicate this success at the George Best Hotel in Belfast," he added.