The Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) has been given the go-ahead for a pioneering hotel and hotel school development in Edinburgh. M&G Real Estate is funding the £350 million Haymarket Edinburgh development which will be developed by QMile Group. Work has started on site and the completed hotel will be operated by EICC under a franchise agreement with Hyatt Hotels Corporation.
The 362 bedroom, 4 star hotel will address conference demand issues for the EICC - which has hosted almost 1.5 million delegates at the conference centre venue since opening in 1995 - while the hotel school will address recruitment challenges faced by the hospitality industry in Scotland. Together, the hotel and hotel school are expected to provide significant job creation and economic benefit for the city.
The EICC commissioned Colliers International, a leading international hotel consultancy, to examine a series of 4-star options. The Colliers report indicated that future demand for hotel accommodation in the Edinburgh market, which already has the highest occupancy rates in the UK outside London, remains very positive despite economic uncertainty stemming from Brexit.
The hotel will occupy one of the most accessible locations in Edinburgh, on a site well positioned for access to road, rail and air routes; business locations and visitor attractions; and the EICC. The hotel would benefit from a significant number of rooms being channeled to it via the EICC, and the availability of a 365-bedroom hotel under the control of the EICC will reduce the amount of business that has been historically lost because conference organisers cannot secure a sufficient number of rooms for their delegates.
As an integral part of the hotel development is a hotel school and training academy that will offer a career path for students and trainees while providing a pipeline of qualified people for Scotland’s leisure and tourism industry. The hotel school will build close relationships with organisations including the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Edinburgh Hotels Association, British Hospitality Association, VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland to ensure that the training offered matches the needs and recruitment challenges of the industry.
The hotel school would operate a number of programmes at different academic levels, with the EICC envisaging that through interacting with different academic institutions it could run courses from NVQ level through to undergraduate and postgraduate degree curriculums. The EICC believes that by incorporating the hotel school into the hotel it will be creating an almost unique scenario within the United Kingdom whereby students would be working in a “live” operating environment.
Marshall Dallas, Chief Executive of the EICC, said: “The hotel and hotel school will take our fantastic venue to the next level on UK and international terms. EICC has had many supporters that have helped guide us through the last couple of years, taking the hotel project from the idea stage to a fully formed, robust, business case. Top of that list would be EICC’s Board of Directors, including our inspiring and tenacious Chair, Cllr George Gordon, and Officers at The City of Edinburgh Council.”
“We know the events industry is experiencing a skills gap that is only becoming more of an issue. The hotel and hotel school will go some way to alleviating that challenge while putting the EICC on an even stronger foot and keeping the venue at the forefront of Scotland’s overall proposition when it comes to business tourism.”
Audrey Cumberford MBE FRSE, Principal & CEO at Edinburgh College, recently signed up as the College partner to the hotel school, said: “The hotel training academy creates a unique opportunity to lead on the delivery of future skills in the sector via a new model for industry-education collaboration and delivery. Importantly, the initiative enables us to create a pipeline of talent which speaks to key drivers for enterprise and skills development in the region. It is vital we create a range of bespoke programmes, meeting the needs of our business partner and our students, ranging from schools to full-time, part-time and apprenticeship opportunities.”
The EICC is set to announce annual results for 2019, a year in which the venue posted a record number of events and delegates, strong revenue growth and economic impact in the region of £55 million. Later this year the EICC will mark its 25th anniversary.