£2.5m upgrade for Norwich airport hotel

Holiday Inn Norwich North general manager Bill Heath with the refurbished swimming pool at the hotel

Holiday Inn Norwich North general manager Bill Heath with the refurbished swimming pool at the hotel.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A hotel group director hailed the 'green shoots of recovery' in the sector as the Holiday Inn Norwich North unveiled the fruits of its £2.5m refurbishment programme.

Every aspect of the airport hotel is being upgraded in its biggest facelift since it was built as The Ambassador 25 years ago,

In a programme that began last May, improvement work has already been completed on the hotel's meeting rooms, health and fitness suite, bathrooms and heating system.

Refurbishment of its 121 bedrooms is nearing completion and the last part of the project, to be ready by early summer, will involve improving public areas, including the lobby and reception.

General manager Bill Heath said: 'In our Lancaster Suite, which is the largest indoor facility in Norwich, we have had a fantastic £35,000 light show installed which can light up the venue any way you desire.

'We host numerous awards events and corporate functions in the suite and since the light show was installed its has become even more popular.'

Use of the hotel's health and fitness suite, Health Central, had also increased - 'We have a membership of more than 700 growing all the time' - since its makeover.

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'We have got a new swimming pool with whirlpool path, a new spin room with spinning classes and all brand new gym equipment,' said Mr Heath.

Neil Sewell, director of operations (south) for Kew Green Hotels, which is the largest Holiday Inns franchisee in Europe with 53 of the hotels, said: 'It is part of a refurbishment programme covering several hotels including one in Brighton where we are spending £3.5m.

'Getting the work done efficiently is made easier by us having our own company team of builders.'

He said Kew Green Hotels, which also has the other two Norwich Holiday Inns in its portfolio, was now noticing 'green shoots of recovery' after a number of difficult years.

'Room rates are getting back to the levels prior to the recession,' he said.

With regard to their Norwich hotels, he said dualling of the A11 and other planned road improvements would inevitably boost the number of people coming to the area.

Mr Heath added that Norwich had fared comparatively well during the recession and the hotel had only experienced one bad year during the six year downturn.

While 90pc of their trade came from the airport, notably from offshore personnel using it, there was also a vibrant leisure market at weekends.

'We have events, both public and private, here every weekend, including discos and band nights,' he said.

Is your business investing for the future? Email stephen.pullinger@archant.co.uk or ring 01603-772446.