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Conferencing aboard Edinburgh's 5-star Fingal

A new luxury hotel and event space opened in the port of Leith, Edinburgh in early January – Fingal.

A former Northern Lighthouse Board ship that used to supply lighthouses off the western coast of Scotland, the vessel has undergone a sea change in terms of identity since being decommissioned.

Now part of Royal Yacht Enterprises and sister ship to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is permanently moored nearby, Fingal has been redeveloped at a cost of £5m and turned into a 5-star hotel. The ship offers 23 cabins, each named after a lighthouse, a spectacular ballroom, a stylish restaurant and outdoor deck space. 

 

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A game-changer

So, what are the business events plans for Edinburgh’s new hotel? Who better to ask than Andrew Thomson, head of hospitality and events at the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Clearly there are potential synergies to be exploited between both ships, the biggest of which for the local events industry is the combination of meeting space and accommodation that the former lighthouse ship can offer (Britannia is only open for events from 7pm-1am and cannot offer accommodation).

Thomson was quick to stress the importance of these two factors: “We run about 100 events on Britannia throughout the year – a lot of those clients have been staying in the 5-star hotels in Edinburgh and we’ve never had the opportunity to offer anybody accommodation. Fingal means we will be able to tap into those events. 

“Also, we’ve had a lot of clients at Britannia who are desperate to have a meeting. Fingal allows us to do the meetings part, which is fantastic for us. Now we can offer out local corporate market and DMCs based downstairs a meeting. Incentive groups can do it as well. So, it’s a bit of a game-changer for us.”

 

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Check in but never Leith

Asked about the long-term plans for Fingal, Thomson is upbeat: “We see this as being a 50-year project. The first 12 months will be crucial to listen to our customers, see their feedback. We’re part of the Luxury Scotland group. We went to IMEX America last October, which was a great show for us. We’ve got some fantastic bookings in the diary from the US incentives market, in particular. So that’s great news.”

Thomson is not overly concerned by Brexit headwinds such as the drop in the pound last year, saying, if anything, sterling’s depreciation had been good for visitor numbers (to Britannia) as it had led to an increase in overseas visitors to Edinburgh and a little bit of staycation.

By Simon George