The Managing Director of one of Preston’s largest hotels believes the city is close to reaching saturation point as its latest addition prepares to open.
Ian Topping, general manager of the four-star Barton Grange Hotel in Barton, believes the £23m Premier Inn hotel, due to open in Fox Street in the city centre this month, has left the city well catered for with rooms.
It adds to the Legacy International Preston Hotel in Marsh Lane, the Travelodge in New Hall Lane and the Holiday Inn on Ringway as major city centre hotels.
But Mr Topping believes there is room within the city for a major conference centre which could attract thousands of delegates to Preston.
He said: “When the Premier Inn opens, my instinct is that we will have enough rooms with the city centre hotels as well as the likes of ourselves, the Marriott and the Leyland Hotel, but I think there is definitely an opportunity for a conference centre.
“I think that if it was done well, a conference centre could work in Preston.
“This is a very vibrant area for business and, to compete with the likes of Manchester and Liverpool, it would need a high-quality conference facility to be able to attract this business.”
He said Barton Grange had invested around £2.5m in a string of changes to the hotel since its last major revamp upon his arrival in 1996.
That includes the creation of its Walled Garden Bistro and Wine Bar and creation of leisure and conferencing facilities.
But the manager said they had no immediate plans to invoke planning permission to expand the hotel onto land left vacant by the relocation of the garden centre which moved to Brock three years ago.
Mr Topping said: “That would allow us to double the size of the hotel but, at the moment, we see focusing on what we have got as the most important thing.
“Our customers always tell us that they like the way our staff treat them and the food we serve here.
“If we can carry on doing that, we do not have to get too big too fast or the wrong way.”