Grand plans for Principal Hayley

£40m investment, as hotel and conference group grows to 24 hotels with acquisition of Glasgow Central and Connaught Rooms in London

Principal Hayley, the hotel and conference venue operator controlled by Permira, has announced a £20m investment to return the Central Hotel in Glasgow to its former glory.

The hotel, built in 1883 was closed in February after the Real Hotel Company (RHC) collapsed into administration. It is scheduled to reopen in February 2010 under the new name Grand Central Hotel and will be a four-star conference and leisure hotel.

There will be an additional 30 rooms added to the existing 222 under the revamp which will include renovating the banqueting facilities.

Chief executive Tony Troy says Principal Hayley paid about £2m for the hotel after negotiating a new lease of more than 100 years. “Taking on a hotel that is completely unloved is just the sort of project we love.”

The Grand development is part of plans that will see over 2,300 more hotel rooms in the city by 2014, year of the Commonwealth Games.

Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre Glasgow’s Ben Goedegebuure tells conference-news: “This is an exciting time for Glasgow; the investment in hotel stock into the city is a massive endorsement of our business tourism product. The Central is a part of Glasgow’s history so it’s great to see it benefit from new investment, equally Hayley are a strong conference brand that again adds to our events experience and are a very welcome addition to Team Glasgow.

“Alongside the other major hotel developments – Hilton, Jury’s Inn etc – these additional bedrooms give more choice and budget range for the growing numbers of delegates we host every year.”

Principal Hayley is also buying the New Connaught Rooms for a figure believed to be around £10m. The London conference centre was also part of the RHC administration.

The venue will be renamed the Grand Connaught Rooms and a £7m investment will be made to refurbish what will be Hayley’s first non-residential conference centre. The work is expected to be completed by September 2009.

“Even in today’s challenging economic climate,” says Troy, “we are confident that our unique model of offering an a la carte selection of high quality city centre hotels and dedicated conference, event and training venues is one which will continue to appeal to both the corporate and leisure markets alike, and this acquisition further enforces our commitment to grow.”

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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