The island of Ireland’s first floating hotel is on its way to the River Bann after plans were approved for a 36-berth vessel at Cranagh Marina Complex in Coleraine on the north coast of Northern Ireland.
Around 50 jobs are expected to be created once the hotel is up and running in what is said to be a reaction to a growth in demand for accommodation on the north coast of Northern Ireland.
The hostelry will be based on a Norwegian barge and will also have a restaurant and event facilities and is expected to gain a four-star rating.
Seamus Carey, owner of Cranagh Marina Complex, came up with the idea for the floating hotel and welcomed the planning decision.
He said the marina will also invest in mooring and parking facilities to “bring new life to the area and a subsequent economic boost which will be felt for years to come”.
Mr Carey said the site is ideally located and has attracted interest from potential operators and investors.
“We are in a very unique situation, being the only business on this island that can do this,” he said. “The port of Coleraine remains open and the Bann has no bridges or locks in the way which therefore makes a project like this both viable and attractive.
“We are also excited about the opportunity this project will present to Coleraine and the Bann Valley. We believe it will revitalise the environs and improve and facilitate connections between the area, including Inishowen and Scotland not to mention the economic impact that will be felt by residents and surrounding businesses.”
The latest move by Mr Carey follows a previous attempt to tow a floating hotel and restaurant to Coleraine from Gloucester docks in 2018. The MV Oliver Cromwell sank on its journey across the Irish Sea.
For the latest project, Rob Skelly, who runs the The Cranagh Activity Centre, was positive about the potential for the new hotel.
“This is a really exciting time for us. Prior to the lockdown we were recording record numbers of visitors and were thrilled with the success of the Activity Centre, restaurant and cabins. We will also be announcing a number of exciting new developments at The Cranagh in the near future and this will undoubtedly further increase the profile of this wonderful destination.
“Right now, as lockdown measures ease we anticipate a very busy few months ahead.”