DEVELOPERS are eying up Portsmouth to create the city’s first five-star hotel.
City council leader Donna Jones says she has high hopes the wait for luxury accommodation could come to an end.
But one hotelier has said the demand needs to be in place before any high-end hotel invests in the city.
Cllr Jones, who is also a director of Solent Local Enterprise Partnership, says she hopes a five-star hotel can be in place before Sir Ben Ainslie’s America’s Cup preliminary races are held in 2015.
She met hotel developer Tony Kaye, who works to set up luxury hotels across Europe and who played a lead role in the creation of the five-star St David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff Bay.
Mr Kaye visited with Robin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels, which has around 60 four and five-star hotels in the UK.
Cllr Jones said: ‘I showed them around the city looking at possible sites for a new hotel. They were very impressed with Portsmouth and are working on plans.
‘I’ve also been working with the owners of the existing sites that have hotel planning permission. These need to be built too.
‘We’re determined to establish Portsmouth as a venue for conferences, top-end sporting attractions and next on my agenda is to meet cruise companies Cunard Line and Royal Caribbean.
‘The jobs that will be created and the positive impact to our local economy, in getting these key components right, is vital.
But BJ Schreuder, general manager of the Marriott Hotel in North Harbour and member of Greater Portsmouth Hoteliers’ Association, says the demand for a five-star hotel needs to be in place before an investor will come to the city.
He said: ‘The city does want to bring more hotels to Portsmouth. I think with the current situation, it is a bit difficult.
‘You need to have the customers to stay in the hotels 365 days a year.
‘It is only two and three-star hotels that are coming in at the moment.
‘Even the Hilton chain found it difficult to make money and has now left.
‘We are the only four-star hotel left in Portsmouth.
‘Five-star hotels need to bring in the business to survive.’
Mr Schreuder said bigger businesses coming to the city, and the proposals put in place to redevelop Portsmouth, could both encourage the demand for five-star accommodation.
Maureen Frost, Hampshire Chamber of Commerce’s deputy chief executive, said: ‘Demand for quality hotel provision will intensify in line with wider growth in the economy.
‘We need to continue enhancing our offer in Portsmouth as the recovery picks up and that means taking forward development sites for new hotel provision.
‘Portsmouth is also short of top quality, large-scale conference facilities and we would hope that any development of this nature would incorporate these.’
As reported, a 4.5-star hotel will open on No Man’s Land Fort in the Solent later this year, and will see the five-star Spitbank Fort become an exclusive-use venue.
Planning consent for a number of hotels has been granted, including Number One Portsmouth in Station Street, opposite Portsmouth & Southsea train station, pictured above, and Zurich House in the city centre. The council recently published a prospectus to entice hotels into Portsmouth.
It is now working to find ways of securing the hotels, including bringing more investors into the city to deliver the projects.