We must give visitors a five-star experience

NEWS COMMENT: Drop-in centre in north of city would ease pressure on QA

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Will Portsmouth ever secure the five-star hotel that is seen as vital to its dreams of attracting big spenders who expect luxury accommodation?

If you listen to ocean racer Alan Priddy, the man behind Team Brittania’s attempt to complete the fastest-ever circumnavigation of the globe in a powerboat, the answer is a definite no.

He certainly doesn’t mince his words. According to Mr Priddy, we don’t have enough high quality shops, our roads are sub-standard and there’s too much political in-fighting to get a five-star hotel signed, sealed and delivered.

His suggestion is to flatten the Pyramids Centre as this prime piece of seafront land is, in his eyes, the only site in the city good enough for such a prestigious development.

Of course, this isn’t a new idea. Portsmouth City Council’s Labour group has mooted it during debates over the amount of taxpayers’ cash that goes into propping up the Pyramids.

But if this proposal is too radical to get off the ground, where else could we put a five-star hotel?

Is Tory council leader Donna Jones’s plan to turn the historic wardroom of HMS Nelson into one a realistic option, or just pie in the sky?

And even if we did get a five-star hotel, is Mr Priddy right when he claims people wouldn’t come here to stay because the city’s general offering is not up to scratch?

Yes, we have Gunwharf Quays and eclectic Southsea with its niche areas.

But we all know that Commercial Road and the city centre badly requires redevelopment to compete with the likes of Southampton’s WestQuay.

As for our roads, they are undeniably busy and prone to jams.

Mr Priddy is right again when he says a better transport system is needed to bring big-spenders to town.

The simple truth is this. If we want a five-star hotel, then we have to give visitors a five-star experience to go with it. Otherwise they won’t come.