A south Belfast hotel will reopen next month after an investment of around £3.5m in a new wedding suite and other renovations.
The four-star family-owned Malone Lodge Hotel is targeting the corporate, wedding and tourist market with the addition of an executive wing, a new 90-seater restaurant, underground car park and suite for civil marriage ceremonies.
With its accommodation split into hotel rooms and apartments, the renovations will leave it with 120 bedrooms, including 78 hotel beds, and 52 apartment bedrooms. It will also open two new presidential suites.
Around 10 new jobs will be created, bringing the hotel's staff to 80.
Managing director Gareth Macklin said the decision to make improvements was the result of two decades in the sector.
"We've been in business since 1991 and taken what we've learned and the best that we could find overseas and applied them here.
"We want Malone Lodge to be regarded as one of the top hotels in Northern Ireland and further afield."
Mr Macklin said the new wedding suite was the most "eye-catching" of the renovations. "We host a lot of weddings at the minute and knew that we could do more if we had a larger function room and a space that was suitable for civil ceremonies. The wedding suite is going to be spectacular."
Now the facilities will cater for up to 240 wedding guests.
Tough economic times were not putting the family off their investment, Mr Macklin said. "There is always room for very good businesses to grow and prosper," he said.
The main hotel is set to re-open in mid-March when the renovations are finished. It has been closed since January – and Mr Macklin said it had escaped cancelled bookings from protests following Belfast City Council's decision on the Union flag.
Bookings had far exceeded his expectations, he said. "Everybody on the ground has put in such a great effort in 2012 and they laid a great foundation for going into 2013. We are very excited."