While there seems to be a lot going on in Gibraltar’s construction market, for those who at the top of the financial ladder it was refreshing to hear that at least one hotel group was also taking into account a market often disregarded on the Rock. Work on a 120 bedroom 3-star ‘limited service’ Holiday Inn Express will commence in April/May on Devil’s Tower Road where the former Moroccan Worker’s Hostel was located, bringing a franchise hotel to our shores that will make Gibraltar as dependable as it is unique.
“The franchise was acquired in December 2014 the Holiday Inn Express will be managed by G & J B Hotels 2014 Ltd,” said Franco Ostuni, General Manager at the Caleta Hotel and Executive Director of G & J B Hotels 2014 Ltd who will be managing the project. “We believe there is a gap locally within the three-star limited service market and we are very conscious of the need to fill it. The recent closure of the Queen’s Hotel has further amplified the problem, reason why we have acquired what we believe is a very strong brand which will further put Gibraltar on the map.”
He told BG that construction would take 18 months to complete: “It will be one of the first fourth-generation Holiday Inn Expresses in Europe, with a very modern and contemporary look,” said Ostuni. “I have virtually walked this hotel many times with my computer-animated experience. Holiday Inn Express is the fastest growing brand internationally, there are approximately 450 hotels around the globe and the ratio of growth has been one opening per week for the last two years, we believe Gibraltar will benefit from the IHG global sales and marketing machine.”
The gap in the three star market has been further highlighted recently during the annual Tradewise International Chess Festival which has seen a considerable number of participants using hotels in Spain because requiring more affordable accommodation.“Land is limited in Gibraltar and therefore we can only develop utilising the height and while probably not aesthetically pleasing if we want to create growth we need to promote and support development.”
In this light, he feels the “mini-city” that is being proposed at the Eastside Development could provide the link between the Holiday Inn Express and the expansion of Caleta Hotel to become a multiple accommodation centre offering four star, five star boutique hotel, serviced apartments and residential. “We see that as a tremendous opportunity, not only for us, but for Gibraltar as a whole. It is on us to create facilities, space and development to attract business growth and population increase. If Europort has made Gibraltar into what it is today, with the business development and finance centre on the west side of the Rock, the Eastside Project is what will project Gibraltar into the next twenty years.” He hopes that the proposed development will go ahead and while the ten year construction period will make life for the Hotel and the residents in the area very difficult he is confident that the developer and the relevant authorities will be sensible with the working programme and attentive to business and residents needs and rights.
Holiday Inn Express is a brand of the Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) which serves 150 million guests a year, making it the largest hotel provider in the market. Built on a foundation of consistency, trust, innovation and resolve, the corporation owns the rest of the Holiday Inn offshoots as well as other household names such as Intercontinental and Crowne Plaza hotels and resorts. IHG was founded in April 2003 and currently has over 4,700 hotels in nearly 100 countries around the globe.
“From a client’s point of view it gives the reassurance and comfort of a branded product which can be experienced in any Holiday Inn Express, regardless of whether in Frankfurt, London, Algeciras or Bilbao. The standardisation of service within the brand gives customers the reassurance of the hotel offer and services; while this takes away the individuality of the hotel operator it provides high standards of facilities, a good and efficient service and value for money.”
The fact that a big development happens on the East Side can only be positive for the Caleta the downside is that we need to survive what could be a very difficult time, where the noise, dust and disruption will inconvenience our clientele. I really believe the East Side is the future of Gibraltar. The development of this large piece of land will have a tremendous impact on the local economy and is an opportunity for the Holiday Inn Express and the Caleta Hotel development.