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Toon with a view, £105 million pumped into rooms and refurbishment

15th July 2010

Categories: Convention Bureau News

Toon with a view - £105 million pumped into rooms and refurbishment

Almost £105 million has been pumped into venues and hotels in and around NewcastleGateshead, according to a new survey conducted by NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau.

The Convention Bureau conducted a survey of its 90 members to gauge investment in the region’s conference portfolio, from January 2009 through to January 2011.

The survey revealed that 951 hotel bedrooms were completely refurbished and 535 new bedrooms constructed (or soon to be built) during this time, while a whole host of other improvements include restaurant renovation, new gymnasia and other leisure improvements and upgraded audio visual equipment.

Much of the work took place throughout 2009 when the country was hit worst by the recession, showing real resilience in competing for clients’ conference business; borne out by a recent independent study highlighting that business tourism was worth £240m to the NewcastleGateshead economy and helped create 5,700 jobs in 2008/2009.
Some of the improvement work is due to finish towards the end of this year, including a new atrium at city-centre based, The CastleGate, where clients as diverse as BBC and British Airways have held conferences.

Northumbria University has seen extensive development, including 500 new-build, en-suite bedrooms, which will be completed at the end of the year.

Phill Vergnano, director of accommodation services at Northumbria University, said: “On top of the accommodation development adjacent to Northumbria University’s award-winning City Campus East, a new £30m sport complex will open in August this year with an indoor state-of-art arena capable of seating up to 3,000 people.”

Four-star, Close House Hotel, set in 400 acres of stunning Northumberland countryside, has built 12 new bedrooms and is completing the building of a new championship golf course and state-of-the-art glass clubhouse, due to open early next year, while the new golf academy opens next month (August 2010).

Elain Dodds, event sales manager at Close House Hotel, said: "The investment into our golf facility for the club house, academy and championship course puts Close House Hotel in the league of premier UK golf and hotel destinations. Quality and first-rate facilities are paramount to attracting business from around the UK and internationally."

The Townhouse Hotel in Newcastle has created 10 new boutique rooms and a cafe, while the restaurant at Jesmond Dene House (winner of the AA Centenary Awards Hotel of the Year 2008-09) has had a full refurbishment.

Nicky Sherman, marketing manager at Jesmond Dene House, said: “We’ve always been regarded as a top place to dine and to meet and this hasn’t changed, but the setting is now much lighter and contemporary and is ideal for business guests who want great food with swift, efficient service that is also great value for money.”

Colleges at Durham University have had a major overhaul with 207 bedrooms fully refurbished and wider seminar and conference facilities improved and County Hotel by Thistle has seen extensive refurbishments to rooms and corridors, while Malmaison Newcastle has upgraded its bar area.

County Hotel by Thistle general manager, Damon Roberts, said: “It is great that our hotel and many other properties in and around the ‘twin cities’ are investing such considerable sums in conference product. This investment underlines the quality of conference offer available to event planners and reinforces NewcastleGateshead’s position as a leading UK conference destination.”

This improvement is on top of major new openings such as Great North Museum: Hancock and the luxury 63-bedroom Tees Valley property; Rockliffe Hall, which opened at the end of last year and boasts the largest new spa complex in the region and a 7,800-yard golf course – one of the longest in Europe.

Jessica Roberts, head of business tourism at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, said: “This survey shows that even during tougher economic times it is important to invest in product to always stay ahead of the game. A large number of our venues and hotels are doing just that – improving the conference experience for the ever-increasing number of business visitors coming for major conferences as diverse as National Union of Students, Royal College of Nursing and forthcoming highlights such as The Liberal Democrat Conference in 2012.

“The experience they take away is vitally important and having stunning state-of-the-art facilities and comfortable attractive accommodation within such an iconic backdrop is a really compelling proposition when their next major conference is being planned.”

For further information:

David Bootle, Media and PR Manager – Business, NewcastleGateshead Initiative
Tel: 0191 440 5741, Mob: 07766993925 or email

Notes to Editors

• NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) is the destination marketing agency for NewcastleGateshead. Its mission is to position and promote NewcastleGateshead as a leading European destination for leisure and business visitors through cultural programming, event bidding and high-profile, targeted destination marketing and PR activity. Created in 2000 by Newcastle City Council and Gateshead Council as a publicly and privately funded business, NGI has developed a strong brand for the area - promoting it nationally and internationally as a place at the forefront of innovative culture-led regeneration and a world-class place to live, learn, work and visit.
• NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau uses local knowledge and expertise to help organise conferences, meetings or events in NewcastleGateshead and the surrounding area. It provides a free service including arranging everything from venue sourcing and booking, to accommodation, transport and entertainment for delegates. With a huge choice of state-of-the-art venues NewcastleGateshead is fast becoming one of the UK’s most popular destinations whether it’s for a meeting of 10 people or a conference for thousands.
• It is estimated that visitors to NewcastleGateshead from around the UK and overseas contribute £1.2bn to the local economy.

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