Co Down food firm to invest £3m in new Castlewellan guest inn

Michael Johnston, operational director of Fresh Food Centres with John Hood, director of food and tourism, Invest NI. Picture by Darren Kidd

CO DOWN retail company, Fresh Food Centres, is investing over £3 million to redevelop a former Castlewellan Guest House into a four-star licensed guest inn.

Hillyard House will include 20 en-suite bedrooms along with a 90-seater restaurant and bar.

The company has said 11 new full-time and 26 part-time jobs will be created by the investment, which has been backed by Invest NI to the tune of £300,000.

The redeveloped venue is due to be completed by February 2020.

Fresh Food Centres runs a number of retail businesses in Co Down, including Castlewellan and Warrenpoint.

The company's operational director, Michael Johnston said: “The redevelopment of Hillyard House is a significant investment for our company and one which we believe will deliver generous economic benefits for the local region. Our vision of a high-end Guest Inn will be a unique offering for the area.

“Being positioned in the heart of the town, close to Castlewellan Forest Park, means that we will be attractive to tourists exploring the region. The support we have received from Invest NI has been invaluable and has enabled us to press ahead with the development, which is well underway.”

Mr Johnston added: “We hope to start taking bookings in December 2019. Alongside the 11 full-time jobs, the new development will create 26 part-time jobs.”

Invest NI's food and tourism director, John Hood, said the redeveloped guest house will provide a welcome boost for the economy around Castlewellan.

“With many tourist attractions nearby, Hillyard House will capitalise on this to boost the Northern Ireland tourism industry further through overnight trips to the region. Furthermore, the economic benefit also includes the creation of 11 jobs as well as employment generated through the construction phase.”

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