Business

From Cannes to St Paul de Vence (and probably then detox)

Our Man in Cannes

:: Well, your man in Cannes yesterday afternoon was actually your man in St Paul de Vence, as I left the palm trees of Cannes' main avenue, the Croisette, to go to this beautiful hill-top town overlooking the Riviera.

It was a hard station for me, eating in one of the best restaurants in the South of France, washed down by some high quality wine, but I got through it okay, although it took me the entire afternoon. Attending was a mixture of people with connections to Belfast and Manchester. There was a nice blend of nationalities and professional disciplines so it made for an interesting and entertaining afternoon including a proper sing-song at the end, everything from the Scottish and Welsh national anthems to Neil Diamond.

Nobody in the group is going to win X Factor in my view but I couldn't fault the singers' commitment and passion for the songs. Eyes closed, veins bulging as they belted the songs out. The sort of thing you normally see and hear at about two in the morning, not six o'clock in the evening.

:: Getting back into Cannes about 8pm, it was time for dinner, bien sur! One thing about MIPIM, unless you have incredible discipline or you don't go out of your hotel room, all you seem to do is eat and drink. Somebody should create an App called the MIPIM detox to help people get back to normal afterwards. I would use it.

So, dinner over, there then the obligatory trip to Ma Nolan's Belfast bar, a visit to the Doherty Baines/Citygrove boat and a bit like the McDonalds on Bradbury Place used to be in Belfast, the last place everybody goes when there is nowhere else to go, the Martinez hotel. It was a long day…

:: Long day or not, the rule at MIPIM is you have to get up the next morning without fail and it was a busy day on the Belfast stand. The focus yesterday was tourism, and John McGrillen, chief executive of Tourism NI, and Gerry Lennon, head of Visit Belfast, shared a panel alongside Conal Harvey of Titanic Quarter and Brian Lavery, head of the Belfast office of global property consultancy CBRE.

One thing's for sure at the moment, the amount of new hotels planned or under construction in Belfast is hugely impressive. But as Brian Lavery said, even with all of them built, the stock of bedrooms will still not be close to the six or seven thousand level which should be standard for a city of Belfast's size.

Then came some of the big projects for the day including a first view of the master-plan for the Sirocco site on the other side of the Lagan from the Waterfront Hall. Stephen Blaney of Coogan & Co set out his work on the expanded Ten Square Hotel and Paddy Kearney also talked about Ten Square and the other assets of his Loughview Leisure in his usual, passionate way.

There was also a slick presentation from Signature Living on its plans for a range of new hotels for Belfast including one dedicated to George Best and confirmation of the news that the company had acquired the Crumlin Road Courthouse.

:: That only leaves the big St Patrick's eve celebration last night, which will have to be described another time as this article was submitted before it started. C'est la vie and over and out from your man in Cannes. Au revoir.

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