Belfast Telegraph

Work starts on Belfast's first Hampton by Hilton hotel

By John Mulgrew

Belfast's first Hampton by Hilton hotel is under way in the city centre.

MSM Construction has just started work on the 179-bed project, which is based at Hope Street and is owned by Andras House, businessman Lord Rana's company.

It will sit across the road from the company's existing four-star Holiday Inn.

Managing director Rajesh Rana told the Belfast Telegraph the work would last 18 months.

"We are excited and are looking forward to it - it's another big asset for Belfast," he said.

"It's an internationally recognised brand and is very popular in the US. There are a lot being planned for Europe, and it will be a big asset for people coming in to Northern Ireland."

The city council approved plans for the hotel at the beginning of this year.

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.

The firm began life in 1981 with the refurbishment of a Victorian factory in the city centre, during a time when there was little appetite for investment.

Founder Lord Diljit Rana moved here in 1966 after three years in England, following a move from India.

Work is also under way on a £4m extension to another hotel owned by Andras House.

The firm is adding 66 bedrooms to the Holiday Inn Express at University Street in the south of the city.

The Andras House group saw profits increase by around 12% in the year to April 30, 2015.

The business's turnover remained almost flat for the same period, sitting at £16.1m.

Earlier this year, the Ramada Plaza underwent a significant refurbishment of its conferencing and banqueting suites, thanks to a £500,000 investment.

The hotel previously benefited from a £1m refurbishment that included a transformation of its grand ballroom, lobby and Laganview Suite.

Work is additionally well under way on a £25m Marriott AC hotel - part of the City Quays development.

When finished, the four-star hotel will have 188 bedrooms, a restaurant, a bar and lounge area, a fitness suite and conference facilities.

It will also employ approximately 115 people.

The Belfast Telegraph first revealed in March that the American hotel chain had struck a deal with the Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

The City Quays is a major waterside development including grade A office space, and is home to law firm Baker & McKenzie as well as technology companies Cayan and BRS Golf.

Work is also under way on the City Quays 2 office development, which will sit between the new hotel and the existing office building.

Just last week Irish hotel group Dalata, which has two hotels in Belfast, said that concerns around Brexit were likely to impact on funding for the planned pipeline of new venues in the city.

Dalata, which is building a new hotel at Brunswick Street in the city centre, already owns the Maldron at Belfast International Airport and the Clayton Hotel on Ormeau Avenue.

The company recently announced revenue had soared by 33% in the first half of the year to €130.1m (£109m).

It said its Clayton Hotel - formerly the Holiday Inn - had benefited from significant revenue during 2015 from business generated in the city that was not repeated in 2016.

Belfast Telegraph