Belfast Telegraph

'Proud' family unveils plans for Belfast George Best-themed hotel

By John Mulgrew

It will become a hotel which its famous footballing namesake would be "very proud of".

And former Manchester United striker George Best's family and friends helped unveil early plans for the grand 80-bedroom development that will house some of the Belfast-born player's trophies and memorabilia.

Liverpool developer Lawrence Kenwright's Signature Living is turning the grand, but in need of much work, Scottish Mutual building behind City Hall into a new hotel, inspired by and named after the late Northern Ireland international.

"This is truly an exciting day for us as we receive these pieces of memorabilia that will form the beginning of a George Best collection at the hotel," he said.

"This marks the next step in our journey to bring George and his genius to life within the hotel."

Some of the items, donated by the Best family, include a signed shirt from the day of his funeral, replica European Cups and a silver Northern Ireland cap.

Former IFA president Jim Boyce told the Belfast Telegraph during a visit to the Scottish Mutual building: "I think it is marvellous. He is synonymous with Northern Ireland, and is going to have a hotel named after him.

"In all my years of travelling, first as president of the IFA, then with Uefa and Fifa, I have been fortunate to visit many, many countries. The name of George Best is the one that has always cropped up.

"I think he would have been very proud of it. I had the privilege of knowing George.

"He was probably the greatest footballer that Northern Ireland has ever produced. And with the team doing so well at the moment, I'm sure he would have been very proud that they were doing so well.

"There is a lot of work to be done, but it's amazing now, with these old buildings, you see them like this, then you see them eight months later and suddenly they are luxurious."

Best's sister Barbara McNarry, who attended the event, said: "We are delighted that George's life and career are being honoured in such a stunning building and look forward to seeing it evolve into the George Best hotel.

"The recognition of Georgie in the city centre has a very important meaning to us and fills us with enormous pride. We have every faith in Signature Living's ability to bring George's story to life within the hotel."

Best played 37 times for Northern Ireland, scoring nine goals. He played for Manchester United for more than 10 years in the 1960s and 1970s.

After a long battle with alcoholism he died in 2005, aged 59.

Developers are hoping the hotel will be open as early as next summer.

"We're excited about the next 12 months as we continue to plan, prepare and deliver this new icon of Belfast," Mr Kenwright said.

"We feel we could have the doors open by June 2018."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph