According to The Irish News, Antrim’s newest hotel, Elephant Rock, is due to open in Portrush next month, following a £2.3 million investment.
The 18-bedroom, four-star, family-owned boutique hotel will open on Lansdowne Crescent with a new-look 30-seater restaurant.
The refurbished venue also includes a new terrace and cocktail bar.
Elephant Rock’s creation was powered by Portstewart woman Charlotte Dixon’s desire to provide something unique to the tourism industry in the picturesque coastal town.
Her family, the Dixons, are no strangers to business, having owned one of Northern Ireland’s best-known department stores for four generations.
Charlotte’s father, Ian, described the Elephant Rock Hotel as a ‘major investment’ and a ‘vote of confidence’ in Portrush.
He said, “Charlotte spends her time between here and Manchester, and it all started when she became aware that the British Legion were selling Bennett House.
“She had been looking for something closer to home to do as an investment, and when she saw it was for sale, she decided that was it.”
Despite the difficult times that the hospitality industry has faced during the pandemic, Charlotte and her family have maintained total confidence in the project.
“We had originally planned for a late summer opening, but then the building work took longer, and we kept seeing more things we wanted to do, so that pushed the timeline back for us,” said Ian.
“We are opening to paying guests on 12 February, and hopefully this will be a better time to do so, as we appear to have passed the peak of Omicron and everyone is looking forward to brighter times ahead.
“We are a small, boutique hotel with 18 bedrooms – 15 double en-suite and three single en-suite – so maybe people will fancy a small, intimate hotel more now.
“It hasn’t been that easy, but we have managed to get the key people in place, and we have a very good team.”
According to Ian, a great deal of thought and attention to detail has been put into the decor of Elephant Rock.
“Charlotte has a great eye for detail, and she wants it to be tip-top, right down to the smallest details, and they are the things people notice.
“We’ve had an interior designer, Adrian Bailey, design everything, from the bedrooms to the cocktail bar and dining area. The cocktail bar is all black and gold, and it will have a speakeasy vibe to it.
“Then there is a rear-terrace bar-kitchen, which is very colourful, called Vi’s. It will be much more casual there.”
Charlotte’s aim for the Elephant Rock Hotel is to make it much more than just a hotel.
“We want to run it as a luxury venue, where you can go for your dinner and then move into the cocktail bar or the rear bar,” her dad continued.
“A lot of people have been telling us that the area has been crying out for somewhere like this for a long time, and we want to appeal to locals, as well as holidaymakers.
“It will be a nice environment and a lovely place to go out for something to eat, or for a drink.
“The dining area is small, but it is all about quality for us. We have the former head chef from the Salthouse and the sous-chef from 1894, at Portstewart Golf Club, so the food will be the best quality.”
With the Open Championship due to return to Royal Portrush in 2025 and some of the North’s top tourist attractions on the doorstep, Elephant Rock hopes to become one of the most sought-after hotels for golfers and visitors in the months and years to come.
“We are really looking forward to welcoming our first guests on 12 February,” added Ian. “We have some great bookings already, including a number of multiple bookings.
“This is a major investment and a vote of confidence in Portrush by Charlotte. There has been an awful lot of thought put into providing much-needed luxury accommodation in the area.
“We want Elephant Rock Hotel to provide a really nice venue, where people can come and spend an evening and enjoy a fantastic stay.”
© 2022 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Conor Farrelly. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.