|The Titanic Suite at Titanic Belfast|
But, despite the somewhat negative historical link, Northern Ireland tourism chiefs are already taking bookings for the Titanic Suite in Belfast’s new £97million visitor attraction due to open next spring. Built on the same spot where the doomed liner was constructed by Harland and Wolff 100 years ago, the centre overlooks Belfast Lough where the Titanic was launched in 1911.
Proclaimed as the largest function area in the region, with space for up to 1,000 guests, the Titanic Suite is perched high on the fifth and sixth floors of the centre. Real Titanic enthusiasts will be excited to learn that the venue also replicates the opulent surrounds of the ship's first class banqueting room, complete with the famous sweeping grand staircase.
Due for completion in April 2012, to coincide with the centenary of the liner’s final departure from the city's shipyards, Titanic Belfast is the £97m museum that - it is hoped - will transform tourism in the Northern Irish capital. Clad in 3,000 individual silver-plated aluminium shards, the building is twice the size of Belfast City Hall and will become the centrepiece of the city’s £7bn regeneration project on the waterfront.
Viewed from any angle it resembles the bows of three enormous ships: the three great liners of the White Star Line, the Titanic, Olympic and Britannic.
Claire Bradshaw, Titanic Belfast's head of sales and marketing, says the hopes are that the venue will boost the region's lucrative £100m business tourism market. 'Given the Titanic link, our aim is to create Belfast's most stylish venue, complete with the highest standards of catering and service,' she said.
Northern Ireland Tourist Board director Susie McCullough says the venue is one-of-a-kind.
'While conference and banqueting facilities are vital elements of the business tourism product, the added value is the opportunity to explore more of Northern Ireland's maritime and ship-building heritage which is right on their doorstep,’ she says.
Links with the star-crossed lovers played by Leonard diCaprio and Kate Winslett in the film of the same name are bound to be a popular theme. Expect lots of couples to get into the ‘prow of the ship pose’ sometime after taking their vows.