Conferences could pave the way for our five stars

It is a shame that Portsmouth misses out by not having a five-star hotel '“ but given how tightly packed we are, was it ever a realistic dream?

Wednesday, 3rd August 2016, 5:55 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 8:15 pm

The criteria that a five-star hotel needs to meet to earn its rating is extensive so it’s no wonder that most of the five-star hotels near us are out in the rolling Hampshire countryside.

Five-star hotels need to have a ‘choice of environments in public areas of sufficient relevant size to provide generous personal space’.

Any Portsmouth resident will tell you that looking for ‘generous personal space’ in our city is something of a fool’s errand. It’s as scarce as hen’s teeth.

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Not only does this city, which we all love for being a hotchpotch of activity, not have enough space, it does not have the right facilities to attract five-star clientele.

Martin Waters, the director of sales and marketing at the Portsmouth Marriott Hotel, has won awards for his work. He knows his stuff, and he knows his trade and the city he’s working in. That’s why the Marriott has stumped up millions of pounds to invest into his North Harbour hotel.

He says that Portsmouth could not sustain a five-star hotel as it’s lacking the required facilities, such as a major conference centre.

If you’ve ever been to a conference at the Pyramids in Southsea and sat through the heat and smell of chlorine that emanates from the pool below, then you’ll get what he’s saying.

Where are the alternatives? The Portsmouth Guildhall? It’s not bad as a gig venue but to make it a prestigious conference centre there needs to be a lot more spent than the £15m identified by the trust behind it last year.

Conference facilities have opened at the Mary Rose Museum, but although unique and smart, it can only hold 110 guests – nowhere near the 500 needed to sustain a five-star hotel.

Portsmouth City Council has always placed the emphasis on hotels to provide five stars, but actually it could better spend its time looking at the root cause and encouraging investment in what’s really needed – a large, smart, hi-tech conference centre that will showcase the city to the global business world.