New wedding, entertainment and conference facilities at this popular hotel put the design and construction team to the test…
The recent redevelopment of Omagh’s Silverbirch Hotel represents a £4million investment by the owners to consolidate its position as one of Northern Ireland’s leading wedding and conference venues.
The signature design was the vision of local architect Des Ferguson of Arch-aid Design, Omagh, who worked in collaboration with interior design firm, Audrey Gaffney Associates, to create the dynamic end result which has already received a William Keown Trust Accessibility Award.
Castlederg-based company Lowry Building & Civil Engineering Ltd was entrusted with the construction contract, and has successfully delivered the new signature facility. The local company used its experience to co-ordinate its approved supply chain of specialist sub-contractors on a phased programme of works, as it was critical to ensure that the hotel remained operational and open for business throughout the duration of the project.
Phase 1 saw the redevelopment and extension of the first floor Business Centre and construction and fit-out of Bertha’s new snug bar. Extensive demolition works to accommodate the erection of the steel framed, precast floored structure required the temporary relocation of oil and gas tanks and air conditioning units, all within a very confined working space, whilst maintaining power and services to kitchen areas for the duration of the project. Careful coordination of works achieved successful integration with the main building, and new stairwells provide dedicated access to the facility and link access from the hotel foyer.
The Business Centre now offers six conference and meeting rooms, varying in size and shape to facilitate various layouts and delegate numbers, plus two additional ground floor function rooms for hosting business and corporate events.
The large dedicated reception area, finished in walnut and white corian, fronts a modern breakout area for refreshments, networking and casual meetings. Pin spotlighting has also been introduced to highlight the specially commissioned photography of ‘silver birch’ trees. Each conference suite offers the latest in-built audio-visual technology, lecterns with integrated controls and audio-induction/ hearing loop technology to assist those with hearing difficulties, plus complimentary Wi-Fi throughout.
Bertha’s Snug Bar location, behind the hotel’s main bar and grill area, required close coordination of very confined construction and fit-out works which were scheduled at off peak periods to minimise disruption. Successful planned completion allowed this bar area to service functions in the temporary wedding pavilion during the construction phase of the new ballroom.
Phase 2 of works involved construction of the new-build Drumragh Suite which is accessed by its own dedicated foyer, encompassed by a distinctive wrap around outdoor terrace, and serviced by the new Courtyard Bar and its enclosed courtyard complete with TV screens to watch sports whilst enjoying the outdoor environment.
The new footprint required the demolition of the original function room area, so a temporary pavilion was erected to the rear of the hotel to accommodate bookings in the interim period.
Lowry Building worked in close collaboration with hotel staff to achieve the smooth integration of the pavilion with the main hotel.
Once vacation and demolition of the existing space was complete, excavations to create the lower ground basement space were carried out, foundations laid and the portal steel frame structure of the new ballroom erected. The traditional blockwork envelope of the building was then faced with natural stone and timber panel feature sections, and enclosed with a specialised roofing system and aluminium windows and external door sets.
The dedicated foyer and outdoor terrace, which encompasses the circumference, is accessed by curved feature steps, all finished with granite paving, stainless steel and glass balustrading and feature lighting, creating the perfect red-carpet entrance for wedding parties.
The Drumragh Suite, which boasts exquisite interior design features like bespoke carpet, decorative framed wall panels, feature crystal chandeliers and a LED mood lighting system, is linked to the hotel kitchens by a dedicated servery area to streamline dinner service. It can also be divided for smaller parties by specialist sliding partition walls. The internal space, which can accommodate up to 450 seated guests, is serviced by its own ballroom bar as well as the self-contained Courtyard Bar, both fitted out with individually designed pewter and marble counter tops, not to mention the decadent bathrooms adorned with marble sinks and ornate gilt mirrors.
Phase 3 of the project delivered the lower ground floor level which houses Lola’s, a spacious versatile event space for private hire and currently hosting a series of popular country music nights.
Reminiscent of Liverpool’s Cavern Club with exposed brickwork and low ceilings the room can accommodate up to 700 guests.
The lower ground floor was fully tanked and damp-proofed using a Fosroc system and integrated sump pumps as an additional safeguard. Also, in line with current environmental expectations, a 70,000 litre rainwater harvesting system has been installed to assist the hotel in fulfilling the water demands of its everyday operations.
To complete the project the main hotel foyer was upgraded with soft furnishings and decoration in keeping with the new interior design, and Lowry Building also revised the external layout to create essential extra car-parking spaces.