The Creator: At the age of 18 Sir William joined the family business of operating working class public houses. Following the death of his brother, William inherited the business at the age of 25, and continued to acquire bars and worked to improve and enhance the image of working class bars. He continued to grow the business before moving into the hotel industry.
During this period of political unrest in Northern Ireland many of the hotels were heavily bombed. The Slieve Donard hotel was at one point nicknamed the 'Titanic' as it was feared it would sink the whole group! Ironically, the Slieve is the only remaining hotel of the original six Hastings Hotels which operates as a hotel today.
Despite 'The Troubles' Sir William remained optimistic and continued to reinvest in his group. Such was his confidence in Northern Ireland's tourism that in 1993, he purchased the Europa Hotel (once known as the 'most bombed hotel in the world') as a bombed-out wreck. He spent £10 million on rebuilding the hotel to create what is now a landmark in the centre of Belfast.
Sir William considers the best thing about the group is that it is a family-run business. All four of Sir William's children, after gaining experience at University and in their careers, have joined the group. Sir William has now passed the role of Managing Director to his son Howard, daughter Julie is now Marketing Director, while Allyson is Sales Director and Aileen is Events Director for the group.
In 2009 Sir William was awarded a knighthood from the Queen for services to tourism and to the community and now acts as Chairman overseeing the running of the group he founded.