Why Belfast hotel building boom may prove to be over-ambitious
Belfast is reaching saturation point for new hotels but demand remains strong in the city, according to a boss at Irish hotel group Dalata.
Dermot Crowley, the firm's deputy chief executive, said its new 230-bedroom Maldron Hotel at Brunswick Street, which is due to open by April next year, will be its last in the city for the forseeable future.
Around 100 jobs will be created by the £20m development.
It comes as the company posted a surge of almost a third in revenue, rising to €290.6m (£247m) in 2016.
Dalata runs Ireland's two largest hotel brands - Clayton and Maldron - on the island and in Britain.
Mr Crowley said Dalata was "very happy" with the overall results, saying its hotels outperformed most of the market.
It owns a hotel in Londonderry, the Clayton on Ormeau Avenue in Belfast (formerly the Holiday Inn) and the Maldron at Belfast International Airport.
Ormeau Avenue had a tough first six months in 2016, but business picked up strongly in the latter half of the year.
Mr Crowley said: "Derry had a really strong year. The Clayton in Belfast, the first half (of the year) would have had some difficulty, with the Waterfront Hall closed.
"But when it reopened, Belfast was very strong.
"All have had a good start to 2017, generally.
For us, they are going very well. We are very excited with the new Maldron."
Asked whether he thought Belfast had room for the more than two-dozen hotels at various stages of planning and development, Mr Crowley said: "There are a lot in planning, but it doesn't mean they will all be delivered.
"I wouldn't like to see much more being added."
And on the subject of Brexit, he said while it was "something we are keeping an eye on", so far there had been "no impact" on business.
"Logistically, with the UK out of the EU, I don't know, but I don't see any major issues," he added.
The latest hotel plans for the city emerged last week when Liverpool-based developer Lawrence Kenwright of Signature Living announced he would be opening a George Best-themed one, along with a possible four others.
Mr Crowley said: "There is always a big supply pipeline. Would I build five hotels in Belfast at once? No."
He said Dalata was putting a lot of investment into "brand awareness".
"Our local sales team are knocking on the doors of local companies," he added.
He said business at the Belfast hotel tended to be around a 50/50 split between business and leisure.
Over the last 12 months Dalata invested €25.4m (£21.6m) in redevelopment and refurbishment of existing stock across Ireland, including a makeover for 748 bedrooms.
The group entered into a 25-year lease for the Clayton Hotel Burlington Road from Deka Immobilien, and completed the rebranding of four hotels to Clayton in the last two months of the year.
BELFAST HOTELS UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Grand Central, Bedford Street: Hastings Hotels Group
Maldron Hotel, Brunswick Street: Dalata Hotel Group plc
Bedford Hotel, Bedford Street: Tullymore House Ltd
Marriott AC, City Quays: Marriott Belfast
Hampton by Hilton, Hope Street: Andras House
Titanic Hotel, Titanic Quarter: Titanic Quarter Ltd