Belfast is to get a new hotel brand, as Hampton by Hilton sets up in the city centre. The new, three-star brand - similar in style to Jurys Inn - is to set up in Hope Street in the latest opening by hotel mogul Lord Rana.
City councillors approved plans for the proposed 179-room hotel on Hope Street at last night's planning meeting.
Lord Rana also operates a Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Ibis, Ramada Plaza and serviced Cordia apartments in the city, through his Andras House operation.
News of the new arrival - a sister of the Hilton Hotel, of which there are two, in Belfast and Templepatrick - came at a presentation by commercial property agents CBRE. Janice Gault, head of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation, described Hampton by Hilton as a "strong product slotting into the three to four star category with a good reputation. Hilton now has 13 brands and Hampton by Hilton has had a very successful rollout in the UK and the USA.
"It's good to have new brands in town, as it increases interest in the city."
CBRE head of research, Marie Hunt, said the hotel sector in Northern Ireland had enjoyed a busy year in 2015, with £75m worth of deals in which 10 hotels were sold.
The hotels sold included Co Fermanagh's Lough Erne Resort and Belfast's Fitzwilliam Hotel, sold for around £6m and £17m respectively. But she said the present volume of new hotels proposed for Belfast - up to 20 are in planning - could result in oversupply.
"We are urging caution, as there is potential for oversupply if all hotel schemes in the planning process materialise."
Ms Gault said Belfast was expected to have around 1,000 new bedrooms by the end of 2018 from current levels - an increase of around 25%. But she said there could be demand for the rooms as Belfast redoubled efforts to find new business in the conference and meeting sector.
Plans were submitted last year for a 179-bedroom development next to Lord Rana's newly refurbished and branded Holiday Inn business on Hope Street, formerly Days Hotel.
He told the Belfast Telegraph in October: "We have an international franchise. I am not at liberty to disclose the name at this stage, but it's a very well-known international brand."
Paul Collins, head of brokerage in the hotels division of CBRE Ireland, said Lord Rana showed flexibility in his approach to hotel brands.
"Lord Rana is a great believer in international brands and he remains flexible on which brands to choose.
"He has InterContinental Hotels Group hotels (the Holiday Inn Expresses), an Accor Hotel (the Ibis) and the Ramada.
"In summary, he chooses the appropriate brand for the appropriate property and location."
Building work will start on other new hotels in Belfast in 2016 including Hastings Hotels' Grand Central at the former Windsor House, and the Hill family's Bedford Hotel behind the City Hall. Beannchor Group will also begin its second Belfast hotel, the Bullitt at the former Lagan House.