Signature Living, the hotel and hospitality operator behind The Shankly Hotel and 30 James Street, announced it will be opening a George Best Hotel as the company's first project in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The agreement was negotiated by IMG on behalf of the George Best Company, owned by George's sister and brother-in-law Barbara and Norman McNarry.
"We are thrilled to support this exciting project knowing that George would have loved to see his name immortalised in a hotel where he would have also enjoyed staying," said Barbara McNarry. "We look forward to showcasing some special memorabilia, hosting charity events and giving people from around the world a 'Georgie' inspired taste of our hometown."
Located in Belfast's landmark Scottish Mutual Building, the George Best Hotel will celebrate the career and glamorous style of the man Pele famously described as "the greatest player in the world." Often called "the fifth Beatle," George's good looks, exceptional skills on the pitch, and flamboyant lifestyle off it made him football's first global superstar and an enduring legend.
Founded by Lawrence Kenwright, Signature Living has been an innovator in the hospitality industry since 2008, renowned for restoring iconic derelict buildings into unique hotels and hospitality experiences. The Shankly is a tribute to legendary Liverpool Football Club manager Bill Shankly and 30 James Street was previously the headquarters of the White Star Line – famous owners of the RMS Titanic.
"Signature Living is incredibly excited to be working with Barbara and Norman McNarry on bringing the George Best Hotel to Belfast. George Best's story is legendary, and we look forward to celebrating his journey at this new hotel development in his hometown.
"Signature Living has a solid track record of delivering unique hotel concepts, and we envisage the George Best Hotel being as popular as the Shankly Hotel in Liverpool which celebrates the life and career of one of the most successful football managers in history. The award-winning Shankly Hotel is now an international tourist attraction and our ambition is to replicate this success at the George Best Hotel in Belfast."
In recent years, IMG has developed numerous projects celebrating the Northern Irish superstar, including a line of fashion T-shirts and jerseys, football-inspired casual shoes, leather jackets, commemorative postage stamps, an e-commerce shop and inclusion of George as one of the legends in Electronic Arts' FIFA best-selling console video game.
Matthew Primack, Senior Vice President, IMG Licensing said: "It is IMG's privilege to bring together the Estate of George Best and Signature Living to realise a vision that will honour George and also offer Belfast's visitors a very special destination associated its very own 'Belfast Boy.' Not only will the hotel DNA be born of stories from George's life, it will also help further cement the brand legacy for the future."
The year 2018 will mark the 50th Anniversary of George leading Manchester United to victory over Benfica in the 1968 European Cup and his subsequent award of the prestigious Ballon D'Or as European Footballer of the Year.