Belfast Telegraph

Belfast's newest hotel The Flint is out to cater for the younger market

By Ryan McAleer

Two of Northern Ireland's youngest hotel owners are to take on some of biggest names in the business with a new multi-million pound venture in Belfast city centre.

Brothers Ben (26) and Peter Ringland (28) will next week officially open The Flint, a 55-bed hotel on Howard Street.

The pair, who are behind the Ringland Group, are also embarking on a major investment of their Crescent Townhouse hotel in Botanic Avenue, which is to be rebranded as The 1852.

It's a busy time for the hospitality industry in the city centre with around half-a-dozen new hotels in the process of opening.

The Flint will be close to the new Maldron Hotel and the Grand Central Hotel, parts of which are due to open next Wednesday.

The £5m easyHotel and Hampton by Hilton - part of the Andras House Group - will soon join them, as Belfast expands from 8,000 to 10,000 rooms this year.

"There's a lot of supply coming on stream, but we're confident our product is a bit different. We're not too concerned," said Peter.

"I'm only 28 myself, so everything is aimed at people around my age.

"It's 25 to 40-year-old corporate guests we're targeting."

While that demographic is expected to be its bread and butter, the hotel is purposely designed with a non-corporate feel.

Highlighting the independent nature of the venture, Mr Ringland said the beds, wardrobes and tables had been built by Portadown-based Terry design, while RUI Design of Dungannon made the sofas.

"Nearly all the stuff in the rooms is handmade in Northern Ireland," he said.

The hotelier said the brothers "fell into" the trade after starting out 10 years ago by renting out apartments through Airbnb.

"The demand for those was really strong," he explained.

"That business grew and eventually it was very financially viable enough for the bank to lend for a more conventional hotel model."

The pair went on to buy the old Crescent Townhouse in 2015 and later expanded their presence in the Botanic Avenue area with the 80-seater Town Square bar and restaurant.

The success of those ventures has inspired the company to refurbish and rebrand, with the hotel due to be unveiled later this year under 'The 1852' name.

In all, the three will bring the number of people in the employ of the Ringland Group to 65.

And the brothers aren't finished yet.

Phase two of The Flint involves a 220-seater roof-top bar.

"It'll be on the eighth floor, overlooking the mountains and great views of the city," Mr Ringland added.

It's the latest chapter in the ongoing regeneration of Howard Street, and Mr Ringland said they have been warmly welcomed into the area.

The Flint will enjoy special relationships with some nearby businesses, including the restaurant Flame.

"The building has been derelict for so long, they're very happy to see something being done with it," he added.

Belfast Telegraph

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