Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland hotel opening wedding pavilion as part of £500k extension

By Margaret Canning

The owners of a hotel in Ballymena have announced plans for a £500,000 extension and refurbishment.

The three-star Rosspark Hotel on the Doagh Road outside the town is building a pavilion for holding civil partnership ceremonies and civil weddings.

And in January the 40-bedroom venue will be closed for a short period to carry out a refurbishment of the reception, lobby bar, restaurant and Ross Suite at the hotel. The pavilion is being designed by Stephen Salley of HBK Architects.

The Co Antrim hotel employs 75 people — including part-time staff — and owner Keith Carmichael of the Carmichael Group said he hoped the expansion would allow for the hiring of up to 10 more people.

“We are excited for the future at Rosspark Hotel and feel that this £0.5m is truly an investment for our future as a hotel. We would hope that the pavilion will increase wedding trade significantly,” he said.

“The plans for the wedding pavilion really are beautiful and are sure to enhance our wedding offerings.”

He said that the venue — which has been owned by the Carmichael family since 1999 — hosts around 100 weddings and civil partnerships every year.

As well as hoping for a pick-up in its wedding trade, he said the company has also experienced a boost in visitors from overseas.

“Bedroom accommodation sales so far this year have definitely been the highest we’ve ever had and were up by around 50% over the summer,” he said.

“During the summer we’ve seen an incredible number of tourists, including a lot of Chinese tourists.”

He said tourists were using the venue as a vantage point for visiting tourist sites such as Titanic Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and the Dark Hedges — where part of cult TV series Game of Thrones is filmed.

Mr Carmichael said the marketplace was competitive but that hotel aggregator sites — such as booking.com — were helpful in the trade.

The Carmichael Group also owns the Bryansburn and Esplanade Bar and Restaurant in Bangor, as well as Morrisons Bar in Belfast city centre.

Mr Carmichael also said the hotel trade was losing out from the absence of an Executive and Tourism Minister, particularly as it competed with hotels in the Republic, which pay a Vat rate of 9% compared to the UK’s 20%.

There has been a hotel on the site of the Rosspark since the early 1980s when businessman John Walker opened up the Country House Hotel.

“We bought it over and gutted it and renamed it the Rosspark,” Mr Carmichael added.

Belfast Telegraph

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