The revival of Newcastle’s Quayside has taken a further step forward after a property group announced plans to convert a former bar into a multi-million pound luxury hotel, bringing more than 100 news jobs to the region.
Gainford Hotels – owners of Newcastle’s Vermont Hotel – are to invest several million pounds on the transformation of Chase Bar and adjoining buildings into the Vermont Aparthotel, a plan poised to create 120 jobs, both through its construction and the staffing of the completed hotel.
The hotel, which will have two penthouse suites and 11 luxury apartments, will be constructed above the existing bar and is set to open in 2015. Architects at Sunderland-based Space ID are currently putting finishing touches to interior and exterior designs.
On completion of the boutique hotel, Gainford will turn their attentions to the empty bar, which they intend to turn into a new nightspot, potentially with a restaurant and bar.
The Vermont Aparthotel becomes the third hotel to be transformed by the Chester-le-Street property firm, a sister venture to Gainford Care Homes which operates 14 homes across the region.
Formed in 2011, Gainford Hotels bought the four-star Vermont Hotel out of administration in April 2012 for an undisclosed sum, safeguarding 70 jobs within the hotel as well as the adjoining Marthas Bar and Courtyard, which has since been refurbished and reopened as Bar Livello.
The same year, nearly 50 jobs were secured when Gainford became new owners of Bradford’s 70-bed Great Victoria hotel two years after its previous owners called in administrators.
The company said they hope to aid the ongoing regeneration of the Quayside as part of their ambitious plans.
Gainford Hotels director Imran Khaliq said: “Our main aim is to restore the heritage of the Quayside, which is already underway through the opening of news bars and restaurants and work on the Tune hotel.
“The Quayside area is a beautiful place but it has been a little neglected. Once we get the hotel up and running it is in a prime location that is gradually being restored.
“We acquired the building in October 2013 and continued to trade it as Chase for three months, but felt that it was not what we are renowned for.
“Within the Vermont Hotel we already have Bar Livello which is doing extremely well and is really lifting the Quayside once more, so we closed Chase and started work on plans to open a hotel to complement the Vermont.
“The Vermont Aparthotel will be constructed above the bar, and have two penthouses looking over the River Tyne and 11 double apartments.
“It’s going to be very high-end – there’s looking like this in Newcastle and we feel that the city is currently missing what we are going to provide there.
“The level of service will be just the same as you have in a hotel, with a 24-hour concierge, room service and chauffeur service, but each apartment will have a high-spec kitchen, living room, dining room and ensuite bathroom so that guests can choose to self-cater if they want, in a luxury setting.”
Khaliq said the company intends to expand over the next few years, both through acquisition and development opportunities.
“Before 2011 we were heavily involved in health care but decided to expand into leisure because we felt the company needed a change of course.
“At the time we could see that the Vermont Hotel was in a prime location but that it was deteriorating. We had a vision for it, took a chance by taking it out of administration, and thankfully our efforts have paid off.
“We now also operate the Great Victoria Hotel in Bradford and have increased the workforce to 400 across all the businesses, by creating as well as safeguarding jobs.
“Looking ahead, we’re keen to expand our hotels business as well as our health care firm and we’re currently looking at other cities. We have landbanks across the North East but we are also looking to purchase hotels as well.”