The AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast launched its waterfront hotel on Belfast’s Maritime Mile five years ago, and the hotel has marked the milestone by investing £300,000 into a new outdoor Terrace.

AC Hotels, a brand by Marriott, launched in 1999 and created to disrupt the current marketplace with a more effortless, design-led hotel chain, opened its only NI site in April 2018 to the tune of £25m. 

With the addition of the Jean-Christophe Novelli Restaurant — launched in conjunction with the renowned French chef — the venue quickly became a popular choice for residents and non-residents alike who can dine while enjoying unrivalled views of Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and the River Lagan.

That unique vista is being celebrated even more as the hotel celebrates five years in operation with the opening of The Terrace, an outdoor space that soaks up Belfast’s maritime space, old and new, as well as the animation of the increasingly popular area.

The Terrace will serve up a varied menu with a selection of tapas, Mediterranean inspired dishes and traditional Irish classics, as well as an extensive cocktail and wine menu. Within the cocktail list is ‘The 1847’, in honour of the Belfast Harbour Act, created with flavours from the imports which made Belfast one of the busiest ports in Europe.

A special accommodation package has also been created; ‘Summer and the City’ which includes an overnight stay for two with a house cocktail on The Terrace and breakfast the next morning. 

Speaking about the milestone and the opening of The Terrace, David Anderson, Divisional President – Aimbridge Hospitality EMEA, said: 

Its fantastic to see the AC Hotel by Marriott Belfasts impressive alfresco dining concept come to fruition. The Terraces waterfront location and outstanding views, coupled with its uniqueness in terms of whats already on offer in Belfast’s city centre, means its a recipe for success. Developing The Terrace is part of the continued investment by Belfast Harbour Commissioners into maintaining the excellent standards at the AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast, which was built to the highest specification just five years ago.

The hospitality industry has faced incredibly difficult headwinds over the last three years, but our business is committed to creating incredible guest experiences in line with consumer trends. Operational excellence is crucial when it comes to attracting and retaining guest loyalty across our properties, and so ensuring areas such as food and beverage remain innovative is vital.

While more than half of the venue’s life was during the pandemic, when hospitality establishments were forced to operate under extreme restrictions, the property has proven that it has come out bigger and better than ever. 

As well as the addition of The Terrace, the hotel has introduced mobile keys which allow guests to access their room via their mobile phone and it has plans to further extend its digital capabilities to keep ahead of current trends in guest experience.

It has also recently introduced seven new family rooms to accommodate the growing leisure guest market and this has also given the hotel the flexibility to accommodate group stays of up to 12 guests within a dedicated space, perfect for family or friend getaways. 

Perhaps one of the hotel’s biggest commitments to date is reducing its own and guests’ carbon footprints for which it recently received a Green Tourism Silver accreditation.

That drive will include the evolution of technology onsite to better serve the environment and it will echo in the restaurant where the menu will continue to boast even more indigenous ingredients.

When Novelli’s launched, it was Jean-Christophe’s Irish debut, with the restaurant serving an authentic Mediterranean menu with locally sourced produce.  Speaking about serving the city over the past five years, multi-Michelin-starred and 5-out-of-5 AA Rosette-winning chef Jean-Christophe Novelli said: “I opened a restaurant in Belfast to be part of the city’s growing food movement. For me, the restaurant was a great addition to the local food scene and, sitting here five years later, that continues to be the case. 

Novellis has gone from strength to strength and had a record breaking 2022. We have benefitted from having exceptionally strong front-of-house and back-of-house teams and I want to thank them for all their hard work and dedication to the brand and the customer.

General Manager Paula Stuart added: “AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast boasts the same high-spec service, interiors and food that it did when we opened in 2018 but with increased innovations and additions. Over those years we have impressed guests, from the domestic and international markets, and as the pandemic opened us up to the closer-to-home customer, we have decided to launch a new element to the business that will serve all of those markets.

“AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast enjoys a stunning riverside location on the Maritime Mile and we really wish to capitalise on this location with our unique outdoor Terrace so that guests can fully enjoy the area and the outstanding views of the iconic Titanic Quarter and the SSE arena. We believe The Terrace will become a destination spot for those who really want that Mediterranean feel for a casual or special occasion and we look forward to welcoming them.

“I would like to thank our staff, all 94 of them, some of whom have been with us from the beginning. We look forward to seeing what the future brings.”