Development plans underway for George Best Hotel
Matthew Primack (Senior Vice President, IMG Licensing), Barbara McNarry (George Best’s sister), Lawrence Kenwright (Founder & Chairman, Signature Living), Councillor Nuala McAllister (Lord Mayor of Belfast) & Norman McNarry (George Best’s brother-in-law)
Family and friends of football legend George Best have presented Signature Living, the developers of his namesakehotel, with iconic items of memorabilia, in what is intended to be the start of a George Best collection for the new George Best Hotel in Belfast city centre.
The presentation took place at a launch event at the former Scottish Mutual building, which was attended by the Best family, Lawrence Kenwright, Founder and Chairman of Signature Living and the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister.
The items included a signed shirt from the day of his funeral, replica European Cups, as well as a silver Northern Ireland cap.
Mr Kenwright commented: “This is truly an exciting day for us as we receive these pieces of memorabilia that will form the beginning of a George Best collection at the hotel.
“This marks the next step in our journey to bring George and his genius to life within the hotel. At Signature Living, we’re passionate about creating and sharing stories and this is a fabulous way to showcase Belfast’s most famous son. It will be a visual experience that will reflect his footballing prowess and the hero he was to so many people in Northern Ireland, Great Britain and further afield.”
Barbara McNarry, Mr Best’s sister, said: “We are delighted that George’s life and career are being honoured in such a stunning building and look forward to seeing it evolve into the George Best hotel.
“The recognition of Georgie in the city centre has a very important meaning to us and fills us with enormous pride. We have every faith in Signature Living’s ability to bring George’s story to life within the hotel.”
Mr Kenwright, speaking about his plans for the hotel earlier this year, said: “It’s about unearthing those stories…not so much the main life stories that everyone knows. This is about the stories you don’t know about. Every room and guest space within the hotel will reflect the genius of the man this city and fans around the world love so much.”
Councillor Nuala McAllister, Lord Mayor of Belfast, said: “This is an exciting development in the city centre not just for the residents of Belfast who remember George Best with pride and affection, but for fans and visitors from across the world who also admired his outstanding football skills.
“The commitment shown by Signature Living to Belfast and the promotion of one of its most iconic sons can only boost the city’s tourist appeal and the economic benefits that result from that.
“Belfast City Council is looking to the future with its Belfast Agenda, a community development plan which aims to work with partners including the private sector to attract more developments which aim to improve the quality of life for everyone in the city so that it is and remains a great place to work, study, visit or set up and grow your business. “
Mr Kenwright continued: “We’re excited about the next 12 months as we continue to plan, prepare and deliver this new icon of Belfast. We feel we could have the doors open by June 2018.
“With record occupancy rates in Belfast of 83.5% last year, we remain confident that Belfast is the perfect location for continued investment from Signature Living.”
The Liverpool-born developer has previously said redeveloping the Scottish Mutual building, originally designed by Henry Seaver in the early 1900s, will result in around 80 bedrooms.