Big plans for Devenish site

WE GET A NEW HOTEL

Gerry Carlile and Jim Conlon, Gerry Carlile and Jim Conlon,
By Ciara Quinn

THE revitalisation of West Belfast has received a major boost with news that plans are in place for a new hotel in West Belfast.

In what is being seen as vote of confidence in the local tourism sector, the Devenish site on Finaghy Road North has been been acquired by West Belfast entrepreneurs Gerry Carlile and Jim Conlon (right), who told the Andersonstown News that they want to “play a major role in attracting tourism to the West of the city”.

“We want people, tourists, to look at the hotel when it is ready and say that’s the spot we want to stay in.”

The pair’s company, Ultimate Global Leisure, acquired the Whitefort bar almost two years ago and the success of that business is something they hope to emulate in their plans for the new hotel.

“As yet the plans are at the design stage but in the two years since we bought the Whitefort it has really given us a taste of what the hospitality business has to offer,” said Jim. “We are really enjoying it and we working with a great deal of people across the board. The new hotel is just the latest development for us.

“We are very lucky to have the Finaghy train station on our doorstep and we can benefit from that greatly. It’s part of the reason for picking this site – it’s a no-brainer really.”

Gerry Carlile, a successful soccer agent whose local business portfolio includes Fáilte restaurant and the Rock Bar on the Falls and the soon-to-be opened 26 West restaurant in the Kennedy Centre, explained how the successful rejuvenation of the Whitefort inspired the pair of businessmen to “put our own stamp on the Devenish site as well”.

“We get a great buzz from watching our community flourish, which it continues to do. We want our community to be successful and create jobs, particularly in this economic climate. There is so much doom and gloom in the hospitality and pub industry at the minute, so this is something good and ultimately fresh to work on,” he added.

“This hotel is something that is needed, especially at  the dawn of the new Casement stadium project –  we would be more or less a stone’s throw away. We are in the hub of it all so it makes perfect sense to offer people the chance to come here, relax and stay the night.”

As plans are in their infancy, the number of rooms and the name of the hotel have yet to be confirmed but Gerry said: “We want to tick all the boxes.”

“We think for too long we didn’t have such a choice on the road in terms of where to go for a meal and where to stay, but it’s time to create that choice for people.”

Plans are also under way to reopen the health and fitness centre at the Devenish. Jim explained: “We will keep the function room and we plan to have a conference suite built as well.

“Both Gerry and I have had success. Of course we don’t know the business inside out but we want to invest in our area, there is no point in just doing something for the sake of it. If you’re going to do it – do it right. We are a young team and we just don’t settle for any old thing.

“It’s our aim to get our bearings on this project, we have drawings and plans at the ready and we should begin to see some real progress after Christmas.”

The new Finaghy hotel will be a major addition to West Belfast’s burgeoning tourism industry. The only other hotel in the West is the popular Balmoral Hotel on the Blacks Road.

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