Grand Central Hotel spend is now £53m - and it's all from the Hastings coffers

Hastings Hotels directors Howard Hastings (managing director), Allyson McKimm (events director), Aileen Martin (sales director), Julie Hastings (marketing director) and Edward Carson (vice-chairman and financial director) unveil new plans for the Grand Central Hotel. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE north's biggest hotel group has revealed it is almost doubling its investment in what will be the region's largest-ever hotel.

And when the Grand Central Hotel throws open its doors in the summer of 2018, it will have been completed without a penny of public money.

The Hastings Group had its revised plans for the hotel approved last month by Belfast City Council.

The facility at the former Windsor House in the city centre will now have 304 bedrooms instead of the 200 originally envisaged.

And the group - whose other hotels include the Europe, Culloden and Slieve Donard - is now ploughing in £53 million (initially the figure was to have been a maximum of £30 million).

"Every penny of this investment is coming from our own reserves, with no government support whatsoever," the group's managing director Howard Hastings said.

"That underlines our commitment to the economy in the years ahead and our faith in the tourism sector."

Building work is now well under way on the Grand Central, which will lead to the creation of more than 150 permanent jobs.

Mr Hastings said he was excited about the future prospects for the group despite Brexit, and he admitted he had "no fears" he would be able to fill the various posts even in a situation where migrant labour became less readily available.

He said the group was looking forward to working with a wide range of local companies during the building phase.

"Our lead construction partner is Graham Construction, and their building expertise and quality of workmanship is second to none," he said.

"In recent years Graham has been more noted for its work in England and Scotland, but this scheme is effectively giving the company a home tie again and will deliver millions of pounds in salaries into Northern Ireland."

He added: "The structural steel has been fabricated in Lisburn and the cladding is being designed and procured through a company based in Moira. The mechanical and electrical contractors are also local, as are the bricklayers, joiners, plasterers and even the tower crane driver, so this is a huge boost for the indigenous economy.”

Sir William Hastings, chairman of Hastings Hotels, said: “We're delighted the revised planning permission for the Grand Central Hotel has been approved. This represents our company's biggest single investment to date of £53 million and is the sum required to create a top quality hotel befitting the name, Grand Central, and of which Belfast City can be proud.

“The Grand Central will be more than a hotel when it opens in mid 2018. It is a legend reborn, and to celebrate this, we have created a building wrap, which will be changed at regular intervals before the hotel opens.

"It will help tell the story of the hotel as it is being built and pay tribute to some of the local companies we are working with who are each playing key roles in helping Hastings Hotels create this major development,” he added.

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