Can I have a short biography of your career?
As the General Manager of the Grand Central Hotel, Belfast, I am responsible for the day-to-day management of this 300-bedroom hotel, Northern Ireland’s largest hotel and newest five-star rated property.
Ask the Manager – Stephen Meldrum, Grand Central Hotel, Belfast
Prior to Grand Central Hotel, I have worked for Hastings Hotels for almost 20 years, and previously managed the Ballygally Castle Hotel, The Everglades Hotel, the Culloden Estate and Spa and the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Newcastle, Co. Down.
Before joining Hastings Hotels, I worked with Croft Inns and also managed several small family-run restaurants and bars. Some career highlights include being GM of the Culloden when it hosted the MTV European Music Awards and the Irish Open.
Stephen is a former chairman of the Institute of Hospitality NI and is involved in PLATO EBR Programme to support small and medium enterprises in a cross-border capacity.
When did the Grand Central Open and how many rooms has it?
The Grand Central opened in June 2018. It has 300 bedrooms making it the largest hotel in Northern Ireland. The hotel has recently been awarded five-star status.
What food, beverage and conference facilities does the hotel have?
It has three very distinct food and beverage outlets. The Grand Café on the ground floor has its own exclusive cosmopolitan vibe and is perfect for a long latte, bistro bite or simply a glass of sauvignon.
The Seahorse Restaurant and Lounge offers a perfect backdrop for sumptuous afternoon tea or delicious dining and fine wines.
The Observatory is the Grand Central’s jewel and the most spectacular and luxurious of liquor lounges. Marvel over never-before-seen views of Belfast and beyond. From pavement to panorama, this is the tallest bar in all of Ireland and it makes for a phenomenally dreamy destination.
The hotel opened just before the Covid-19 pandemic, how did you cope?
I am blessed with having a wonderful team who are passionate about the delivery of great hospitality. Couple that with having the support of my fellow General Managers from the Hastings Hotels collection, the great team work contributed to a successful opening.
How do you think Grand Central Hotel is integrating in the city
It is almost like we have always been a feature of the Belfast skyline. It has quickly established itself in the domestic and international market place, and has complimented the wider hospitality industry.
How are bookings doing this year? Are there signs of corporate business returning?
Bookings are exceptionally strong particularly from the domestic leisure and staycation market. We have also seen a return of corporate business as offices begin to return from remote working to a blended office-based approach.
Have you seen an increase in overseas visitors yet?
Over the last month, we have definitely seen a return of overseas guests, which is fantastic not only for us but for the wider Northern Ireland economy.
Staff shortages are an issue, how are you coping?
We are coping by having a diverse and flexible workforce, who have been incredible since re-opening after the pandemic. We can offer a variety of positions with flexibility to suit all needs which helps to make us attractive to potential candidates.