Business

Belfast's 304-room Grand Central Hotel 'will open next June' say owners

Artist's impression of the new Grand Central Hotel, which will now open in June next year
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE north's largest-ever hotel will officially open its doors to guests in the first week of next June, its owners have confirmed.

The 304-bedroom Belfast Grand Central Hotel being built at the former Windsor House in the city centre represents a near-£55 million investment by the Hastings Group.

And for the first time the owners have put a completion date on the work after revealing that lead construction partner is Graham should be off-site by the end of next May.

Every penny of the investment (it was originally envisaged to cost £30 million but is now expected to be a minimum £53m spend) is coming from the Hastings Group's own cash reserves, with no government support whatsoever.

At least 150 permanent jobs will be created at the Grand Central (a nod to a hotel of similar name built on Royal Avenue in the Victoria era, but which was forced to shut its doors in 1970 as civil unrest kicked in).

Its completion will help put the city in prime position to host world sporting fixtures and international conferences.

Meanwhile Hastings is celebrating 50 years of the ownership of the jewel in its crown, the Culloden Estate & Spa.

The group purchased the Cultra property in June 1967 for £100,000, and over the course of the last half century, under the direction of Sir William Hastings, the Culloden has been completely transformed in size and luxury.

Once a Bishop's Palace, in 1967 the Culloden was a 13-bedroom boutique hotel. Today it remains the north's foremost five-star hotel complex with 98 bedrooms and suites, an Espa spa and health-club, ballroom, conference facilities and meeting rooms.

Sir William said: “I would like to pay tribute to the wonderful staff who have worked tirelessly over the last 50 years - from my first general manager Hugh Margey, a young hospitality graduate from the University College Dublin, to the current general manager, Eoin O'Sullivan, and his wonderful team.

"It is only through their efforts that the Culloden continues to attract guests from around the world and pick up prestigious accolades, most recently being named Luxury Hotel of the Year at the Irish Hotel Awards.”

Sir William - whose son Howard and daughters Julie, Howard, Allyson and Aileen are all now fully engaged in the management of the six hotels in the Hastings stable - added: “I stand proud in the knowledge that after 50 years the Culloden is trading well and trading profitability with a well-grounded reputation that will allow it to be successful for many years ahead.”

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