New George Best Hotel may not open until April

New images of the interior of the new George Best Hotel
Gareth McKeown

A NEW hotel being built in honour of legendary Northern Ireland footballer George Best may not open until April next year.

The £15m George Best Hotel, one of four set to be built in the city by Liverpool developer Signature Living, has already been put back twice and now a post on the company's official website suggests a third delay is now possible.

The 63-bedroom hotel, housed in the landmark Scottish Mutual Building in the city centre had originally been due to open last month, but in January the project was put back to September. Last week the completion date changed again to December and now April has been speculated as the new opening date for the hotel.

In a blog post on the official George Best Hotel website published on June 28 new pictures are shown of what the interior of the building will look like once construction work is complete. Within the post it states the hotel is "planned to open in April 2019", while it later says: "We really can't wait to open this amazing hotel next year".

"It is not clear whether the initial December date stated last week by the company is still valid or whether it refers to the first part of a phased opening at the site, which would not be uncommon. The Grand Central Hotel opened last month with 120 of the 300 rooms open to the public, with the remainder due to be complete later this year. At the time of going to press Signature Living had not responded when asked for clarification.

In the same website post there is also a link to a video in which Signature Living owner Lawrence Kenwright talks about the project.

In the video, published on June 20, Mr Kenwright explains that construction workers have finished working on the derelict areas of the building.

“We've now ripped the whole place out, we know exactly what we have got to do," he says.

Mr Kenwright tells the camera on a tour of the building that it is going to be an "amazing hotel", with "stunning" bedrooms and bathrooms. The developer says the new George Best Hotel will draw inspiration from the Shankly Hotel, built in honour of former Liverpool FC manager Bill, but they will improve the offering further to make it even better.

"I don't think there will be anything like in the world, never mind in Belfast," he says.

"I've never seen a hotel like ours and what we have in Liverpool and we are going to go even more extreme in this building so I think this will be an amazing hotel not just for Belfast, but also for Signature Living," he adds.

The George Best Hotel is one of at least four hotels set to be built in Belfast by Signature Living. The Liverpool company is also behind the £25m redevelopment of Crumlin Road Court House to create the 150-bedroom Lanyon Hotel and the Waring Hotel at the old War Memorial Building. Both previously had been scheduled to open this year.

Mr Kenwright has also expressed his interest in acquiring and transforming Belfast's Floral Hall into a “leading entertainment, conference and wedding venue” in the city.

Speaking in March, Mr Kenwright spoke of his ambitions to restore the “gem in Belfast's social and cultural history to its former glory”.

“I am publicly stating my desire to acquire the Floral Hall from Belfast City Council and to invest in bringing it back to use as a unique venue for future generations to enjoy in the way that their parents, grandparents and even great-parents did for so many years in its heyday,” he added.

At the time Belfast City Council said no discussions had yet taken place with Signature Living about the site.

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