The owners of the Cranagh Marina Complex in Coleraine have received planning approval for what will be Ireland’s first ever floating hotel on the island of Ireland.
The vessel, which has already garnered huge interest from potential operators and investors, will have 36 en-suite rooms, a restaurant and conferencing and function facilities upon completion. It is anticipated that 50 new jobs will be created once the project is complete.
The owners of Cranagh Marina Complex filed the application prior to the Covid-19 crisis. They also plan to invest in associated moorings and parking facilities that will bring new life to the area and a subsequent economic boost that will be felt for years to come.
Seamus Carey, owner of Cranagh Marina Complex, said a surge in visitor numbers and tourists to the complex, which has a range of activities for all ages, presented an opportunity to add further accommodation facilities and so the plans for the floating hotel were born.
He said: “We are delighted to receive approval for what will be a completely new facility on the island of Ireland.
“We are in a very unique situation, being the only business on this island that can do this. 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.”
Mr Carey continues: “The Cranagh has seen a steady increase in visitors over the last number of years and has become a destination on the north coast offering excellent facilities for the entire family. Since 2016 we have won several tourism and visitor attraction awards and have been awarded the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence every year since 2017. We believe the floating hotel will enhance our offering and enable visitors to stay and enjoy not only the facilities at The Cranagh but all the wonderful offerings of the north coast.”
Rob Skelly, who runs the The Cranagh Activity Centre, adds:
"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. Those availing of staycations or day trips on the north coast will have plenty to do at the Cranagh. At the Activity Centre we have stand up paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing as well as being Northern Ireland’s only waterski and wakeboard school, so it is the perfect venue for individuals, families and small groups to come and enjoy the beautiful Lower Bann Estuary.”
While the initial plans for the floating hotel don’t extend beyond accommodation and restaurant facilities, Mr Skelly says potential is huge, with the possibility of redeveloping the whole Cranagh site.
He added that there will be no disruption to the current site when the project is underway.
When completed, the barge will be a four-star facility and will employ around 50 full and part time staff members.
“This is a very exciting time for Cranagh Marina Complex,” he said.