George Best Hotel's rooftop statue will be permanent tribute to '˜Beautiful Belfast Boy'
A life-size statue of legendary Northern Ireland footballer George Best is to be erected on the rooftop of the new Belfast hotel that will bear his name.
The partnership behind the new £15m George Best Hotel, which is due to open in November, say ‘The Beautiful Belfast Boy’ statue, which will overlook Donegall Square, will be “a permanent tribute and memorial” to the former Manchester United winger.
“I cannot think of a more fitting tribute than to have a statue of this iconic footballer erected on the rooftop of this magnificent building,” said Lawrence Kenwright, chairman of the Signature Living Hotel Group, who are redeveloping the former Scottish & Mutual building in a partnership project with George Best’s family.
“To have George Best looking down on Donegall Square and City Hall is an acknowledgement of how important the people and the great city of Belfast meant to him and how much he loved the people.
“He was a beacon of hope and inspiration for the people of Northern and southern Ireland throughout all of the years. George Best was once quoted as saying - “When I say Ireland I mean north and south, to me its all the same, I see no division.”
The £15m hotel project is a joint venture between Lawrence and Katie Kenwright’s Liverpool-based Signature Living Hotel Group and the family of George Best, including his sister Barbara McNarry.
When the joint venture was announced the family presented a number of iconic items of memorabilia to kick-start the unique collection to be housed at the George Best Hotel. Items of memorabilia included replica European Cups, a silver Northern Ireland cap, paintings of George and a shirt signed by many of the mourners who attended his funeral.
The development of the listed building will be the first of four hotels and an £80 million pound investment into Belfast by Signature Living.
The substantial investment into the city includes the £25m redevelopment of the historic Crumlin Road Courthouse to create the 150 bedroom Lanyon Hotel and the Waring Hotel, the former War Memorial Building on Waring Street.
Meanwhile, Signature Living has confirmed its first two key appointments to the new George Best Hotel – Belfast-born Damian Gilvary and Gareth Milligan.
Mr Gilvary, a highly experienced hotelier and operator, will become general manager of the luxury hotel, while Mr Milligan has worked his way through the industry and will take on the role of head of sales.
“Both Damian and Gavin will bring an exciting and charismatic style of management to the hotel with exceptional local knowledge,” Mr Kenwright added.
The George Best Hotel will be the fourth football-themed hotel within the group, which includes the renowned Shankly Hotel Liverpool – conceived as a tribute to the legendary Bill Shankly OBE – and the £12m development of the Dixie Dean Hotel and the £15m development of the Shankly Hotel in Preston where Shankly spent most of his playing career at Preston North End FC.