Belfast Telegraph

Opportunity for Belfast hoteliers with 200-bed facility open for offers

By Clare Weir

Hotel operators are being invited to get involved in a new 200-bedroom facility.

Belfast Harbour is now open to expressions of interest for the 26,850sqm waterfront location, part of the 20-acre, £250m City Quays development, which received planning permission in July.

With a hotels forecast earlier this month reporting that Belfast saw the highest occupancy increase amongst all main UK cities in the first six months of 2014, hopes are high that the new destination will be open and ready for business in 2017. Graeme Johnston, Belfast Harbour's property director, said that the new hotel will be the latest part of the city's rejuvenated riverfront area stretching from Clarendon Dock to Belfast's Waterfront Hall.

"City Quays 1, a Grade 'A' office development, is already under construction and planning for an adjacent office project, City Quays 2, has been submitted," he said.

"To complement these developments, along with plans for residential and local retail space, we aim to build a new waterfront hotel.

"To achieve a best-in-class product we are seeking expressions of interest to secure the expertise of an experienced hotel operator.

"Demand for hotel space in Belfast is strong and improving."

Janice Gault, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Hotels Federation said that as the waterfront develops further, more accommodation will be needed.

"There has been a lot of development in and around that area and with the expansion of the Waterfront Hall and the continued push for big tourism events and indeed conferences, it is inevitable that there will be more visitors and therefore the need for more hotels.

"It will be nice to see a new addition to the city portfolio."

Gerry Lennon, chief executive of Visit Belfast, added: "The last decade of tourism investment and dedicated marketing have seen the industry grow fourfold, with the city now welcoming over 2.2m overnight visitors to Belfast a year.

"With world-class attractions such as Titanic Belfast, conference centres such as the Waterfront Hall and headline acts choosing to host their events in Belfast, it is important we see further investment in the commercial accommodation sector to meet the growing demand for hotel rooms."

ASM Chartered Accountants' annual hotel industry survey found that demand for bedrooms had grown during the year, with an average bedroom occupancy rate of 74.8%, up from 73.2% in 2012. Total revenues were also up 9.8% year-on-year.

Companies wishing to express their interest in operating the hotel should contact Belfast Harbour and return the relevant information by October 30.

Belfast Telegraph