Belfast Telegraph

£14m hotel planned for Mourne Mountains

By John Mulgrew

The man behind a planned £14m hotel in the foothills of the Mourne Mountains has said the area is "screaming out" for a development.

Miceal Tinnelly wants to transform a 35-acre plot of land in Rostrevor into a 100-bed hotel facing Carlingford Lough. If given the go-ahead, the four-star Seven Hills Hotel and Spa will be built on the village's Greenpark Road.

"This area is crying out for a hotel," Mr Tinnelly told this newspaper.

"There may be one in Newry and Newcastle, but here there is nothing. There used to be three or four hotels, but now there is nothing."

The developers are holding a pre-consultation meeting on the project next week.

Mr Tinnelly is seeking the finance to see the scheme through to completion.

It is likely the funding will come from a combination of banks and private investors.

The hotel is slated to include two function rooms, two bars, a restaurant, spa, fitness suite and gym.

"It is the tourists that you are trying to attract," Mr Tinnelly said. "If there is an event in this town, people have to stay elsewhere."

The developer, who was a coal merchant before moving into construction, was previously granted planning permission for a smaller, 50-bed hotel on the same site.

"We have been working on this for about eight or nine years now," he said.

The village previously had a large hotel called the Great Northern that looked onto Carlingford Lough.

Originally known as the Mourne Hotel, it was taken over and extended by the Great Northern Railway in the 1890s, then destroyed in a firebombing during the Troubles.

Mr Tinnelly claimed locals had been overwhelmingly positive about the project.

"People are more than happy, they are screaming out for it," he insisted.

"There isn't a person who has said a wrong word against it."

The developers estimate the hotel will cost in the region of £14m.

As well as seeking funding from banks and private investors, the people behind the project hope to secure "grant assistance from Invest NI towards planned marketing, training, management development and IT development costs in the hotel over the five-year period of the financial projections".

Speaking to Ulster Business in 2012, Mr Tinnelly said: "There is a real gap in provision in Rostrevor. We have two four-star hotels in Newcastle and Newry and fewer than 30 rooms in between from smaller providers."

Meanwhile, more than 30 hotels are at various stages of development in Belfast.

Around 4,000 rooms are planned for the city centre, more than doubling capacity. There are currently some 3,400.

Around 1,100 rooms are being added across five under-construction developments.

They are the Marriott AC at City Quays' the Grand Central at Bedford Street, Hampton by Hilton at Hope Street; the Maldron Hotel at Brunswick Street; and the Titanic Hotel.

Ten Square, behind City Hall, is also being extended.

Projects at the pre-planning stage include an extension to the Bullitt Hotel in the city centre, a 160-bedroom hotel at the King's Hall, and McAleer & Rushe's proposed 150-room development at the former Bank of Ireland building on Royal Avenue.

Elsewhere, the developer hoping to open a George Best-themed hotel in Belfast has bought a listed building in the city centre for just over £6m.

Liverpool businessman Lawrence Kenwright's Signature Living Group purchased the Scottish Mutual Building, and plans to invest a further £15m to turn it into a hotel.

The building was bought from the Ballymena-based Hill family, owners of the Galgorm Resort & Spa.

Mr Kenwright also recently bought the former Crumlin Road Courthouse, which he plans to convert into one of five hotels in the city.

Belfast Telegraph