Belfast Telegraph

Luxury Fitzwilliam Hotel seeks planning permission to create spa, gym and 30 new bedrooms

By Margaret Canning

The owners of Belfast's luxury Fitzwilliam Hotel have applied for planning permission to extend the property, as one industry body reports the sector has had a "record" summer.

Graffan Properties Ltd has applied for permission to add 30 new rooms to the 130-room Great Victoria Street hotel, as well as a gym, a spa and a roof terrace.

The destination does not have a star rating, but calls itself a luxury destination.

The company would not comment yesterday on its expansion plans.

But in accounts filed at Companies House this month, the firm reported an increase in turnover from £5.3m to £5.8m in the year ending December 31 2015, though pre-tax profits fell from £0.7m to £0.5m.

In a strategic report, the company's directors said that they were happy with the improvement in performance in 2015, "and anticipate that this will be maintained and improved upon in 2016".

The report added: "In order to consolidate and enhance the hotel's position in the marketplace, the directors are planning to complete a significant refurbishment to the property during 2016."

The Fitzwilliam Hotel was opened as a five-star hotel by June Burgess, a former director of Graffan Properties in 2009. It was bought by Michael Holland, controller of the Ampleforth Group, last year.

Janice Gault, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, said the expansion plans were the latest in a long series to be announced for the city.

"Many new hotel projects have been announced for Belfast in recent times," she added. "The city has had a good summer and a number of properties have decided to extend, adding on rooms and facilities.

"The Fitzwilliam Hotel is the latest project to apply for planning, adding a spa to their offering. This will help them attract a new audience and create additional appeal.

"There is certainly an appetite for growth, with private sector investment mounting up to £300m over 22 projects announced in the last 18 months.

"It's been a record summer with a strong leisure trade and the welcome addition of conference business with the opening of the Waterfront.

"Trade at this level gives the sector confidence, but it continues to note the pressure that a significant increase in hotel stock can create."

In its accounts, Graffan Properties added that it would continue to monitor its key performance indicators and "regularly compare these with similar operations in the city of Belfast".

And it said it faced risks from the economic and political situation here.

"These factors have an impact on the levels of tourism, hospitality and business and consumer spending," it added.

Other new hotel projects in Belfast include Hastings' Grand Central at Windsor House, and Beannchor Group is soon to open its budget boutique Bullitt Hotel at the former Lagan House.

Last month, a boutique hotel proposed by Cedarr Properties at Bank Square was given the go-ahead by Belfast City Council.

The city's first Hampton by Hilton Hotel is to be launched by Andras House at Hope Street, while a 206-bedroom development is being constructed by McAleer & Rushe on Brunswick Street. It will be run by Dalata Hotel Group as a Maldron Hotel.

Belfast Telegraph