The £53 million Grand Central Hotel is being developed by Hastings Hotels, the province’s largest hotelier. Built on the site of the original Grand Central, the hotel will have 304 bedrooms. Dating back to 1893, when it was the hub of Victorian Belfast and seen as the finest hotel in Ireland, guests have included Winston Churchill, Al Jolson, Mario Lanza and The Beatles.
“We are looking forward to the continued growth of the tourism and hospitality sector in Belfast,” said Hastings Hotels sales director Aileen Martin, who will attend WTM London this year with Tourism Northern Ireland (UKI400).
She said tourism to Northern Ireland had spiked recently, thanks to the global interest following Game of Thrones, which has many scenes shot in the province. The series is fuelling a growing awareness of the burgeoning food scene and the scenic appeal of the area.
“From Bushmills Whisky to Titanic Belfast, the variety of activities on offer has seen growth across all travel sectors,” said Martin. “However, a key travel trend in particular is the appeal of self-driving holidays. Northern Ireland has been recognised as home to some of the most beautiful drives in the world, and as such we see visitors coming for the buzz of Belfast and then touring around the stunning ocean drives to explore all the hidden gems.”
Hastings Hotels also includes The Culloden Estate & Spa just outside Belfast, which has completed significant refurbishments and is celebrating its 50th anniversary. “Business has been excellent for The Culloden, thanks to those key focus points,” said Martin.
She added that Northern Ireland’s appeal was now far wider than just the UK and neighbouring Republic of Ireland.
“We are welcoming many tourists from all over the world who find sterling countries like Northern Ireland representing particularly good value currently,” Martin added.