The signing of a £15m funding package will allow Bliss Investment Partners to complete the redevelopment of the Ramada Plaza hotel and put the wider Waterfront scheme “on the road to being a national destination, as it should always have been”.
Bliss has secured a £15m deal with investor ICG Longbow to support its redevelopment of The Waterfront, the complex which includes the hotel as the anchor of a 250,000 sq ft leisure resort, including casino, theatre and conference centre, taken over in various deals over the last two years.
Bliss took over the Ramada in December 2016, following this up with the July 2017 acquisition of the 250-year head lease for the Waterfront development from Promenade Estates – this included the Genting casino, a bar restaurant operated by Greene King and 54,000 of commercial space largely unused since its 2008 development.
In April 2018, the business then took over the Southport Theatre & Convention Centre, which had previously been operated for Sefton Council by theatre group Ambassador.
Partner Daniel Broch told Place North West: “We spent much of last year dealing with bringing in the STCC and getting systems integrated, and customers are now beginning to see the benefits and the improved Waterfront branding. Over the next few months they’ll see the Bliss brand taking shape.”
The 133-bedroom hotel is remaining open throughout its revamp, and the improvements made to the showpiece floor five in 2018 are being rolled out over the course of this year. New signage will be in place in April. It will operate as the Bliss Hotel, part of the high end Wyndam Trademark brand – the first location in the UK under the brand.
Also planned to come on stream later this year are the 7,000 sq ft BlissSpace public areas, including a 3,000 sq ft roof garden. Entertainment will be provided by the Blissonik brand, including DJ and live sets, film nights and silent cinema screenings.
The former commercial spaces in The Waterfront are being brought into the hotel element, while the part of the casino wing that remained underused will be brought forward in a fresh masterplan, being worked on with Sefton.
Broch, a Bliss Hotel co-founder and founder of the Everyman cinema chain, said: “The Waterfront was always a great idea, killed in the execution and by disparate ownerships and no shared vision.
“Our shared vision’s about to become a reality fuelled by the enthusiasm and excitement of all those involved, creating anything from scratch is hugely inspiring and challenging. We’re aiming high.”
Jez Marvin of architect Unwin Jones Partnership, added: “The Bliss Hotel project and Waterfront regeneration represents a fantastic opportunity for Southport, the North West and for all involved.
“Bliss have assembled a team full of talent, ideas and energy – we are looking forward to creating something truly amazing together.”
Among Broch’s plans is Original Adventurers, a core group of influencers, effectively a founder member’s group, to inform Bliss on refining its offer as it looks to roll the brand out in the coming years.