Conference News March 2019 - Page 51

51 Hotel Review Fingal – a floating game- changer on the waterfront Simon George says that although Fingal’s sailing days may be over, in terms of synergies with the Royal Yacht Britannia, the MICE boat may just have come in new luxury hotel and event space opened in the port of Leith in Edinburgh in early January – Fingal. A former Northern Lighthouse Board ship that used to supply lighthouses off the western coast of Scotland, the vessel has undergone a sea change in terms of identity since being decommissioned. Now part of Royal Yacht Enterprises and sister ship to the Royal Yacht Britannia, which is permanently moored nearby, Fingal has been redeveloped at a cost of £5m and turned into a 5-star hotel. The ship offers 23 cabins, each named after a lighthouse, a ballroom, a restaurant and outdoor deck space. So, what are the business events plans for Edinburgh’s new hotel? Andrew Thomson, head of hospitality and events at the Royal Yacht Britannia says there are synergies to be exploited between both ships, the biggest of which, in terms of events, is the combination of meeting space and accommodation that the former lighthouse ship can offer (Britannia is only open for events from 7pm-1am and cannot offer accommodation). “We run about 100 events on Britannia throughout the year – a lot of those clients have been staying in the 5-star hotels in Edinburgh and we’ve never had the opportunity to offer accommodation. Fingal means we will be able to tap into those events. “Also, we’ve had a lot of clients at Britannia who are desperate to have a meeting. Fingal allows us to do the meetings part. Now we can offer out local corporate market and DMCs based downstairs a meeting. Incentive groups can do it as well. So, it’s a bit of a game-changer for us.” Thomson sees Fingal as being a 50-year project. The first 12 months will be crucial to listen to our customers, see their feedback. We’re part of the Luxury Scotland group. We went to IMEX America last October and we’ve got some fantastic bookings in the diary from the US incentives market, in particular.” Thomson is not overly concerned by Brexit headwinds such as the drop in the pound last year, saying, if anything, sterling’s depreciation had been good for visitor numbers (to Britannia) as it had led to an increase in overseas visitors to Edinburgh and a little bit of staycation.