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Friday, 28 November 2014

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New aparthotel in Carlisle surpasses booking target

Carlisle's new Halston Aparthotel has achieved a 50 per cent occupancy rate in the first month, better than its owners dared hope.

Halston photo
Simon Harrison, left, and Robin Graham

The hotel, which occupies the former Crown Post Office in Warwick Road, opened on July 5.

It is the brainchild of Carlisle businessmen Robin Graham and Simon Harrison and features 16 high-specification en-suite apartments with king-size beds, LED HDTVs and fully-equipped kitchens.

Rates start at £80 a night for a one-bed studio.

Mr Harrison said: “Business has been growing steadily. We have been fully booked some nights.

“We are looking at a first-month occupancy rate of 50 per cent which, given that we’re not on any of the booking websites yet, is ahead of where we thought we’d be.”

He added: “The product has been very well received by guests.

“When people see what they get for their money, they are blown away.”

The Commonwealth Games provided an early and unexpected boost as some spectators, unable to find suitable accommodation in Glasgow, stayed in Carlisle and commuted to the Games by train. The Halston benefited because it is within walking distance of Carlisle railway station.

Carlisle Racecourse has also brought extra custom. The hotel was fully booked when the course held its annual ladies’ night, including a concert by Wet Wet Wet, on Monday of last week.

However, the Halston expects business customers to be its mainstay. They have the option of self-catering in the apartments, or eating in the hotel’s Bartons Yard cafe and wine bar, which serves breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.

Mr Harrison said: “Our core market is corporate and business clientele. We have just opened a private dining room, for functions for up to 20 people, which we hope businesses will use.”

The Halston houses two other businesses, Belted and Winter Spa. Burger restaurant Belted is already trading while Winter Spa – a hair and beauty salon run by Carlisle hairdresser Craig Winter – opens on September 1.

The hotel’s main function room and car park, incorporating the site of the former Lonsdale Cinema, is due to open in the second week of September.

Carlisle MP John Stevenson has cited the Halston as a tangible sign that economic recovery has taken hold.

He said: “One of the best examples of the recovering confidence in the local economy is the opening of The Halston.

“It is a business which has seen local businessmen invest their own money.”

JobCentre managers have also pointed to the opening of the Halston, alongside expansion at ready-meals firm Cavaghan & Gray, as one of the factors behind a sharp fall in unemployment in the city.

The number claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance has fallen by 34 per cent in the last year to 1,312. The Halston will have created 100 jobs once it is fully open.

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