Northern Ireland’s largest independent hotel group has appointed its longest-standing employee, Edward Carson, as the group’s chairman.
Carson served as financial director for the group for 47 years, overseeing Hastings’ growth to 1,000 bedrooms across the province including the recently launched 300-bedroom Grand Central hotel in Belfast.
The family-run business was established by Sir William Hastings in 1966, who subsequently named his four children as managing director, sales director, marketing director and events director.
Managing director Dr Howard Hastings said: “Having purchased the Stormont and Adair Arms hotels in 1966, my father went on to acquire a group of six run-down railway hotels in 1971. Keen to grow and invest in the business at this time, he soon advertised for a financial director and appointed Edward Carson, who returned home to Belfast from London in 1972 to assume the role.
“Working closely with my father, Edward helped steer Hastings Hotels through some of the most tumultuous years in Northern Ireland’s history, which saw the Slieve Donard hotel and a number of venues in the group bombed on several occasions.
“With ‘The Troubles’ at their height, few tourists dared venture to Northern Ireland and our business was driven not by bedrooms, but by what was then a lively entertainment scene – with 10% of our sales even coming from cigarettes.”
The group is now looking for a new financial director to take over from Carson.