George Best Hotel may not open until 2020 after another delay

The George Best Hotel has been delayed yet again and may not open until 2020
Gareth McKeown

THE long-awaited George Best Hotel may not open its doors until next year, after yet another delay has halted the progress of the multi-million pound project.

Less than a month after a firm launch date of June 14 was revealed for the 63-bedroom hotel, "additional work" is now required at the former Scottish Mutual building.

In a statement to The Irish News, Liverpool-based developer, Signature Living confirmed a further delay to the Belfast hotel and that they are now liaising with customers who have bookings for 2019.

"We met recently with Belfast City Council officials, as part of the ongoing planning procedures/process. It has been identified that additional work is now required as set out by (Council/Heritage Authority). Unfortunately this will result in our proposed launch date for the George Best Hotel being delayed further," they said.

"The team have been in contact with confirmed bookings/guests, and are making arrangements for refunds, and facilitating alternative arrangements as much as possible. We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused as a result.

"The situation moving forward will be constantly reviewed, as the additional works progress. We look forward to welcoming all guests to The George Best Hotel in the near future," the statement read.

The exact details of the "additional work" required have not been revealed, but it had been speculated that there are issues surrounding a fire escape at the venue.

A new opening date for the new city centre hotel has not yet been provided, but staff on the phone lines are now taking bookings from 2020 onwards. One Signature Living staff member told The Irish News they simply do not know when the George Best Hotel will begin trading in the city.

George Best Hotel general manager, Damian Gilvary said they are "hugely disappointed" by the delay.

"The hotel is taking shape nicely, but as announced further works are required," he said.

"As general manager of the hotel I am responsible for the operational side of the business, and as always guests must come first. My colleagues and I have spoken with, and met several guests who had bookings to explain the situation. I can personally assure everyone, we will do everything we can to facilitate their requirements.

"My team and I genuinely look forward to welcoming our guests in the near future. Your patience is much appreciated."

The highly anticipated George Best Hotel had originally been due to open last summer, but the £15 million development has been subject to a series of delays.

The project is one of three hotels due to be built in the city by the Liverpool company, headed by Lawrence Kenwright.

In addition to the George Best Hotel, Signature Living is behind the £20m transformation of the landmark Crumlin Road Courthouse into the 77-bedroom Crum Hotel and a 43-room hotel on Waring Street.

The Waring Hotel is set to open in its first phase at the beginning of September, while the Crumlin Road project may not be ready until late 2020.

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