Jurys builds North's biggest hotel
THE minute the deal was signed, work began on the £9.4 million sterling Jurys Hotel Group hotel in Belfast city centre.
According to the groups' managing director, Mr Peter Malone, four months after preliminary negotiations with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) and the NI Department of Economic Development began, the foundations of the 190 room hotel were laid.
After its completion on May 1st next year, it will be the biggest hotel in the North.
Jurys Belfast Inn is to be Jurys fifth "inns development" which offers accommodation, at budget prices with en suite rooms providing accommodation for up to three adults two adults with two children as well as restaurant and the "Inn Pub".
With grant funding off £2.5 million from the NITB over 80 new jobs will be created from the hotel development.
On completion, the number of bedrooms in the group will be in excess of 2,300.
Although the group has hotels in all major cities in the Republic as well as four in Britain, the move to Northern Ireland is a new departure.
For the first time an Irish hotel group will have hotels both north and south of the Border.
According to the NITB, it is keen to attract established international hoteliers to the North since, it enhances the image of the area and gives access to the marketing networks of these groups.
The chairman of Jurys Hotel Group, Mr Walter, Beatty, says that for over five years the group had been looking at Belfast as an obvious location in which to establish, a Jurys presence.
After negotiations with the NITB, the group found a location in the city centre, on the corner of Grosvenor Road and Fisherwick place, next door to the Opera, House and adjacent to the city's main business, retail and entertainment centres.
Mr Malone said the Belfast hotel has "probably the best location of any of the inns anywhere".
"The group has enjoyed great success in Ireland and for years we have been promoting Jurys of Dublin in Belfast, in keeping with this we'll now be promoting Jurys Inn, Belfast in the south," said Mrs Malone.
The decision to move to Belfast is, according to Mr Malone, a business decision. "We decided a number of years ago to look at all parts of Ireland, Galway, Dublin and Belfast. We're not interested in putting flags on maps, we're going into a city that can make money for us," he said.
According to Mr Beatty, the market is confident that the Inns concept will succeed in Belfast.
"That confidence has not been diluted in any way by the recent developments in respect of the peace process and the prospects for doing business in Belfast remain strong," he said.
Mr Malone is not worried that plans for other hotels in Belfast are also in progress.
"If we were building a five star hotel in Belfast I think I'd be worried. As a hotel, Jurys will offer accommodation to a wider spectrum of people," he said.
Last year, Jurys Hotel Group made a profit off £6 million, with the brokers forecasting £8.5 million for the year ending April 30th, 1996, a figure Mr Malone said he is "comfortable" with.
When asked if the group had further plans to look at Northern Ireland as a location for development, Mr Malone said the group looks at areas from a business point of view.
"IT it's a good business decision, we'll consider it."
Mr Malone believes completion of Jurys Belfast Inn will be a landmark in the Irish tourism industry.
. Jurys Custom House Inn, the 234 bedroom hotel, next to the Irish Financial Services Centre in Dublin, is due to open in September.