Date: July 2018
Name: Hastings Hotel Group; Grand Central Hotel
No. of Keys: 300
Seller: The Grand Central started life as the ageing 23-storey Windsor House. When P Elliott, one of Ireland’s largest construction firms, went into receivership following the 2008 recession, Nama took control of the then office block.
It was initially bought by a Manchester-based investor who sought a partner to develop the project and share some of the risk.
Howard Hasting, the current CEO says that the group “purloined” the Grand Central name from a previous hotel in the city. “It does what it says on the tin. It is going to be grand and it is so very central,” Hastings says.
Owner: Hastings Hotel Group, one of Northern Ireland’s most prolific hotel groups is already seeing its £53m investment into a new hotel pay off, just one month after launch, reporting a rise in turnover and profits in its latest company accounts.
Hastings Hotel Group, which owns and operates seven venues across the north, saw its turnover increase by 7.8 per cent to almost £40m in the year ending October 31.
Pre-tax profits increased marginally from £4.9m to £5.2m over the 12 months.
The group launched its latest venture the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast just last month, which is said to be the north’s largest and most expensively constructed hotels.
In the Companies House report, directors said that the group was ‘well placed to manage its business risks successfully, despite the current uncertain economic outlook,’ and said the group will ‘continue to seek every opportunity to increase profitability’.
The directors also paid tribute to its founder, Sir William Hastings, who passed away in December aged 89.
“Sir William, almost single handedly built up the group from the 1960s to what it is today. The group was his life and he is sorely missed by the directors and staff.”
The complete Hastings Hotel Group consists of Belfast’s Europa, Stormont, and Culloden hotels, as well as Derry’s Everglades, Larne’s Ballygally Castle and Newcastle’s Slieve Donard, plus now the Grand Central Hotel.
The group also owns a 50 per cent stake in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel.
THPT Comment: Sir William was succeeded by his son, Howard, in the early 1990s, who has done marvellously well, following his father by keeping the hotel group in fine state, especially in the period of “the Troubles” when their Europa Hotel was quoted as the most bombed hotel in Europe! They bought The Europa in 1993.
Howard has kept the business in the family, with his three sisters, Julie, Allyson and Aileen, all working for Hastings Hotels.
For us, Howard is Mr Belfast, when it comes to hotels, as can be attested by this great new addition to the city’s hotel scene.