Sir William Hastings, one of Ireland’s leading hoteliers and founder of hospitality group Hasting Hotels, has died aged 89 following a short illness.
Hastings, who purchased his first hotel the Adair Arms in Ballymena in 1964, is survived by his wife Joy and children Julie, Howard, Allyson and Aileen.
In the last 50 years, he built the Hasting Hotels brand to the six-strong group of four- and five-star hotels in Northern Ireland and purchased number seven, The Grand Central, in 2015.
The group is now in the middle of the £53m redevelopment of the property which is due to open its doors next year.
After acquiring his first hotel in 1964, Hastings went on to expand his portfolio with the purchase of six railway hotels from Grand Metropolitan in 1971. The beautiful Slieve Donard Hotel is the only one remaining today.
In 1993, he purchased the Europa Hotel and invested heavily in its transformation.
He received a Knighthood in 2009, having already been awarded a CBE and an OBE. The University of Ulster awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters in 1998.
He was chairman and board member of a number of organisations including the Institute of Directors, the Transport Holding Company, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Bass Ireland and a passionate member and past president of the Belfast East Rotary Club for 50 years as well as a loyal parishioner formerly of Drumbeg Church of Ireland and latterly of Downpatrick Cathedral.
Throughout his life, he was proud to work with many charities including Help the Aged, Chest Heart and Stroke and Men Against Cancer and this dedication also contributed towards his Knighthood.
He still had an active role within Hastings Hotel, as chairman he would still go to the office every day and played a key part in the brand’s development.
The Hastings family commented: “We cannot describe the huge void that he has left in our lives but we take comfort in the fact that he was an inspiration to so many people and has left a lasting legacy which we will remain dedicated in honouring.
“We have been overwhelmed by the tributes paid to Billy from around the world since his death and would like to thank people for their kind words as they have helped us greatly at this very difficult time.
“He will be laid to rest in a small, private family funeral and there will be a public celebration of his life in the New Year for which details will be released in the coming weeks.”