An international group’s new hotel in Inverness will be a Scottish first, it has emerged.
The hotel is taking shape on Glebe Street, on the east bank of the River Ness.
Bosses at Hotel Co. 51, which will open and operate it on behalf of Marriott International, hope it will be ready to welcome guests this autumn.
It will be the first under Marriott’s AC Hotels brand north of the border and only the fifth in the UK.
It was previously thought it would be one of Marriott’s many Courtyard hotels.
But The Press and Journal can now confirm it will be part of the AC Hotels chain.
There are more than 150 AC-branded hotels around the world but currently only four in the UK, including two in Manchester and one each in Birmingham and Belfast.
AC has been described as primarily an upscale business hotel brand, with an “approachable” average daily rate and a “trendy design mission defined as ‘European-inspired classic modernism’.”
According to Marriott, the AC hotels have “everything you need – and nothing you don’t”.
The hotels’ modern decor and open layouts offer “functional beauty without distraction”, it says.
Group in expansion mode
The past couple of years have been exceptionally tough for the hospitality industry and only now does it seem there is at last some light at the end of the tunnel.
But Hotel Co. 51, which operates many of the hotels under the Moxy and Courtyard by Marriott brands, including the Moxy at Aberdeen International Airport, opened new sites and trebled its workforce last year.
The Amsterdam-based group said it started the new year “with positivity and a busy pipeline”.
‘We ended last year on a high’
John Farrelly, corporate commercial lead, Hotel Co. 51, added: “Last year was difficult across the board for the hospitality sector.
“But we have remained positive and continued to open hotels, even during lockdown.
“We ended last year on a high after the success of opening two hotels in time for COP26 and saw both properties full for the duration of the conference.
“We have big plans this year and will be opening a further seven properties across Europe, bringing the total to 41 under our belts by the end of 2022.
“And the plan will continue unabated for 2023, as we already have a number of locations earmarked to add to our portfolio.”
As operator for nearly all the Moxy hotels owned by Marriott in the UK, Hotel Co. 51 now has a total of 14 sites open.
They include 10 hotels which re-opened last year, following Covid lockdowns, and four new properties.
The new quartet, including both a Moxy and Courtyard by Marriott in Glasgow, added 930 bedrooms to the portfolio, for a new total of 3,181.
We have big plans this year and will be opening a further seven properties across Europe.”
John Farrelly, corporate commercial lead, Hotel Co. 51.
This year, the group will add three properties in the UK – giving it another 600 guest rooms.
As well as the new hotel in Inverness, the company will open four hotels in continental Europe at locations including Paris, Dortmund and Berlin.
Hotel Co. 51 said it created more than 160 new jobs during 2021, starting the year with 79 employees and ending it with 243.
A spokeswoman for the company added: “The workforce reflects the variety of the international clientele, with a team of 33 nationalities and multiple languages spoken in all hotels.”
The group said it was also working hard on sustainability credentials for each of its operated hotels and this would continue to be a big part of its future growth strategy.
Low energy consumption, green fuels, modular builds and a no plastic policy in its bars and restaurants are “an integral part in our continuous effort towards sustainability,” the company added.
The new hotel in Inverness is on a city centre site that was previously home to a swimming pool and has lain derelict for more than 20 years.
The venture is expected to create around 50 jobs.
Full planning approval for the 175-bedroom, four-star operation on Glebe Street was achieved in late 2019.
The multimillion-pound development, led by Dutch developer Vastint Hospitality, suffered more than a year of delays.
On completion, the main hotel block, facing Friars Bridge, will feature 151 rooms, with the remaining 24 guests housed in a separate three-storey block in the grounds.
The ground floor of the main block will have a bar and dining area as well as a meeting space, gym, media room and check-in area.