Belfast Telegraph

Video: George Best to tower above Belfast at new hotel

Belfast boy George Best is set to tower over the city at its newest landmark hotel.

The £15m George Best Hotel in Belfast, which is due to open in November, will have a life-size statue of the legendary Manchester United and Northern Ireland footballer erected as a permanent tribute and memorial to the star.

The statue called The Beautiful Belfast Boy will be placed on the rooftop of the hotel at the back of City Hall.

The hotel project is a joint venture between Lawrence and Katie Kenwright’s Liverpool based Signature Living Hotel Group and the family of George Best including his sister and devoted confidante Barbara McNarrry and dedicated to honouring the footballer legend.

He was a beacon of hope and inspiration.

When it was announced Best's family donated memorabilia to help kick start the unique collection for display in the hotel.  Items included replica European Cups, a silver Northern Ireland cap, paintings of George and a shirt signed by many of the mourners who attended his funeral.

The development of the listed former Scottish & Mutual building at the junction of Donegall Square and Bedford Street will be the first of four hotels and an £80 Million pound investment into Belfast by Signature Living.

The substantial investment into the city includes the £25m re development of the historic Crumlin Road Court House to create the 150 bedroom Lanyon Hotel and the Waring Hotel, the former War Memorial Building on Waring Street.

Chairman Lawrence Kenwright said: "I cannot think of a more fitting tribute than to have a statue of this iconic footballer erected on the rooftop of this magnificent building. 

"To have George Best looking down on Donegal Square and City Hall is an acknowledgement of how important the people and the great city of Belfast meant to him and how much he loved the people. 

"He was a beacon of hope and inspiration for the people of Northern and southern Ireland throughout all of the years. George Best was once quoted as saying - 'When I say Ireland I mean North and South, to me its all the same,  I see no division'. 

The hotel chain is also behind the Shankly Hotel in Liverpool as well as the Dixie Dean Hotel.

Signature Living also confirmed it’s first two key appointments to the new George Best Hotel. Belfast-born Damian Gilvary as general manager and Gareth Milligan as head of sales. 

Gilvary - who previously worked for the Hilton Group of hotels in Belfast and Manchester - is seen as a rising star in the hotel world. Whilst with Hilton, Gilvary rose through the ranks and was the recipient of several national hospitality awards.

Milligan started out in the hospitality sector at the age of 15 as a hospitality student working his way through the industry. His career progressed through operations and accounts before moving into sales 12 years ago.  Milligan has worked in all aspects of conference, corporate and leisure sales between Belfast and Dublin with an exceptional knowledge of the industry.

Mr Kenwright added: "We are delighted to have both Damian Gilvary as our new general manager and Gareth Milligan as our head Of sales for the George Best Hotel.

"Both Damian and Gareth will bring an exciting and charismatic style of management to the hotel with exceptional local knowledge. We have a unique style in the way we run our hotels."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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