Last updated: 09:00 AM ET, Thu June 25 2015

Hastings Plans Grand Hotel in Belfast Center

Hotel & Resort | James Ruggia | June 25, 2015

Hastings Plans Grand Hotel in Belfast Center

Photo via Twitter

Hastings Hotels has been making quite a mark on Belfast in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, the leading Northern Irish hotel chain unveiled plans for its £30 million ($47.1 million) investment in Windsor House, a hotel they purchased a month ago for £6.5 million ($10.2 million).

Centrally located in one of the tallest buildings in Ireland on Bedford Street, the new hotel will be called the Belfast Grand Central Hotel. The building, built in 1974, dominates the Belfast skyline. Hastings plans to transform the structure into a 200-bedroom hotel, subject to planning permission. The accommodation will be the seventh hotel in Hastings’ portfolio in Northern Ireland.

“This acquisition represents our biggest single investment to date of £30M and upon completion in 2018 the hotel will operate at the upper end of the 4-star market offering 200 bedrooms, a restaurant and bar, 18 serviced apartments and a range of superbly appointed office accommodation,” said William Hastings chairman of Hastings Hotels. “It will bring the number of bedrooms in our group to over 1,000 making us the largest privately owned hotel chain on the island of Ireland.”

The hotel taps into local history as the original Grand Central Hotel was built in 1893 and became a hub of Victorian Belfast and beyond. The original hotel hosted the likes of Winston Churchill, Al Jolson, and the Beatles. For Hastings, there’s a personal connection to the city. “I am extremely proud to be able to pay tribute to this much-loved property of the past by naming Belfast’s newest hotel after it,” he said. “The Belfast Grand Central Hotel will fulfil the requirement for much needed city center accommodation in Belfast.”

Northern Irish tourism is enjoying good numbers these days. According to the Belfast Telegraph international visitors grew by 4 percent to 2.2 million. A burgeoning cruise sector has doubled over the last three years to 121,000 passengers.

Tourism in Belfast received a huge boost in 2012 with the opening of the $155 million Titanic Belfast in the city where the ship was built. Standing at the head of the same slips where the ship first glided into the waters of Belfast Lough, the angular, aluminum-clad building is the exact height of the original (93 feet). The galleries of the Titanic Belfast tell the ship's story from her conception in Belfast's Harland & Wolff Shipyard, to its sinking in 1912 and re-discovery led by ocean explorer Dr Robert Ballard in 1985.

Titanic Belfast is the second-most popular attraction after the Giant's Causeway, with 634,000 visitors.

“Tourism in Northern Ireland continues to thrive and it is the ideal time to extend our portfolio of hotels with more high profile events coming to the city as well as an increase in business tourism which will be helped by the expansion of the Belfast Waterfront next year,” said Hastings.

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