A new four star spa hotel, expected to create around 120 new jobs, will be built in Portstewart, in time for the 2019 Open Golf Championships, The Coleraine Times can exclusively reveal.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 5:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 11:30 am

A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) was submitted to the Planning Department last week by a planning consultant acting on behalf of Scottish based company C&V Developments, for the four star hotel which will be located close to the start/finish line of the North West 200 circuit,

The 120-bedroom spa hotel at Ballyreagh Road, will also incorporate conference facilities for around 350 people, a spa and leisure complex, holiday cottages and a restaurant.

In an exclusive interview with The Coleraine Times this week, Vivienne Gilholm, a director of C&V Developments, and a native of Portrush, described the hotel as a ‘major economic investment’ for the North Coast.

Based in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, C&V Developments have been involved in high quality building projects both in Scotland and the north of England.

Vivienne, together with her husband Colin, who is as a keen motorbikes enthusiast, say that they just ‘couldn’t pass on this chance for such an innovative project’.

She revealed that a public consulatation on the proposal will take place at the site next month, and added that it was her aspiration that the hotel, which has yet to be named, would be up and running before The Open golf championships in July 2019.

“We have been in discussions with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and Mervyn Whyte and Fergus McKay of the North West 200 about the development which will be adjacent to the start/finish line of the race circuit,” she said.

“Having grown up in the area - I am well aware that the North West 200 has become the largest sporting event in Ireland as well as a leading world road motorcycle event. From a one day race event when it first started out, the North West has grown into a week long festival and we recognise that.

“For us it is clear that the North West has a heartbeat driven by the dedication and hard work of the many local volunteers, and we are lucky to be able to work with Mervyn and Fergus in giving the event a permanent home within the hotel complex.”

Vivienne who has vast experience in hospitality industry went on: “I am really excited about being able to work again in the area of the North Coast. When coming home over the years to visit family, it’s been clear that resources are rich, alive and thriving in both the industrious hard working people and also in the outstanding natural beauty right across the area.

“I don’t think it’s until you move away that you realise how strong these assets are, and how easy it can be to take for them for granted,” she said.

“We see this project as building on the infectious energy that has always made Portrush and Portstewart so popular, and we feel that this development will reflect the high standard of natural attractions and sporting events that are already here and happening. With its location and views, the hotel will become a unique destination in itself and this is a very exciting time,” she said.

It is expected the hotel itself will create around 120 new jobs, but Vivienne says that it will go further, with not only local building firms being involved in the construction stages, but local planners and consultants involved right from design and application stages.

With The Open Golf Championships around the corner, the Scottish contractor with Portrush connections says she hopes that the hotel will help ‘carry on the legacy’ that the event will leave behind.

Vivienne explained that a fesibility study has been carried out, and that it highlighted the need for a four star facility in the area.

“We want to make sure that there is life after the imminent golf event but be ready to make the most of the opportunity to show people why they should revisit the area,” she said.

“We want people to come, take some time, stay longer making the most of this venue and the other attractions - The Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills Distillery not to mention the other links golf courses.”

Architect Ben Wilson of local firm Wilson McMullen described the project as ‘unique’: “The unique nature of this project and its importance in giving this internationally renowned event, a long awaited permanent home within its natural base, is an exciting and invigorating prospect.”

Planning Consultant Tim Ferguson of Ferguson Planning added: “The proposal is simply unique not only in terms of its location and connection with the

North West 200, but also in terms of its design and desire to provide a legacy for the event.

“At the same time, it will go one step further in providing a 4 star Hotel and Spa Complex that has long been demanded by locals, businesses and visitors alike.

“The submission of the PAN (Proposal of Application Notice) shows the developers intent to work as fast as they can to make it a reality.

“Prior to lodging the planning application, we are very keen for people to come and view the proposals and provide their thoughts on the development.”