THE first steps towards creating a new hotel for Inverness have been taken, with developers being asked to register their interest in the project.
The development at Inverness Campus has been a long-term aim of site owners Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
It has now revealed its vision for a business class hotel with around 120 bedrooms as well as meeting rooms, a bistro, bar and lounge on a three-acre site.
Inverness Campus is home to several public and private sector organisations, including Inverness College UHI and Scotland’s Rural College.
More than 600 people currently work there although that figure is expected to rise to around 1300 within the next five years.
Ruaraidh MacNeil, HIE’s Inverness Campus project director, said: "We have been exploring options for a hotel development at Inverness Campus for a number of years now, and are delighted to be able to present this opportunity to the market.
"We are looking for a hotel developer who will embrace the collaborative ethos of the campus, support local supply chain companies and provide employment and training opportunities, particularly for young or disadvantaged people."
Demand for hotel accommodation in Inverness is strong, with revenue per available room growing by 40 per cent between 2012 and 2016 compared to the national average of 27 per cent.
Earlier this year the city topped the Colliers Scottish Hotel Index, with strong levels of demand, high occupancy rates and low development costs.
However, there were also concerns that some operators were charging too much at peak times, with room rates in the Highland capital regularly surpassing those in Edinburgh or London’s west end.
HIE hope that improved access to leisure facilities such as the type a new hotel would provide will enhance the appeal of the campus to employees, students, visitors and local people as well as potential investors as they seek to continue the growth of the site’s commercial sector.
Inverness Campus is designed to provide a range of academic, research and commercial opportunities. Commercial real estate firm GVA is marketing the hotel site on behalf of HIE and is inviting registers of interest from developers by Friday, November 17.