independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Summit could secure hotel's future

Rory McIlroy was Lough Erne's most famous guest before news of the G8 summit

It will be a high security conference like no other - and maybe an event which also helps secure the long-term future of a five-star resort where golfer Rory McIlroy was once the main guest.

Four years after opening amid claims that it was set to become one of Ireland's top hotel destinations, the Lough Erne outside Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, went into administration, owing the bank £25 million.

The numbers expected just did not materialise because of the economic decline and even though the high-end standards have been maintained, the figures no longer added up. It has been on the market for the last 18 months with an asking price of £10 million.

But when the world's leaders take up residence for the G8 summit next June and global attention falls on Northern Ireland's famous lakelands, staff believe the arrival of US president Barack Obama and colleagues could turn out to the be the resort's saving grace.

With just one just approach road and protected by the waters of lower Lough Erne, it should be an ideal location for the secret service staff, and the forces of law and order. The small St Angelo airport where construction of a massive new hangar for private jets is under way, is just across the lough.

There are five helipads and seaplanes can touch down at the adjoining Castle Hume lough. Neighbouring Killadeas was a Royal Air Force base for Short Sunderland and Catalina flying boats during the Second World War.

The hotel has 120 rooms and suites, dedicated conference space for 400 people, five food and beverage outlets and an authentic Thai Spa.

But David Cameron's announcement that the G8 is on its way to their part of the world left many with a sense of disbelief on the streets of Enniskillen this afternoon. This is the town where 11 people were killed and 63 injured in the IRA Remembrance Day bombing of 1987.

One businessman said: "There was all sorts of speculation something of this size and magnitude was going to happen. But now that it has been confirmed... it's somehow hard to take in. Everyone is amazed.... This summit couldn't have come at a better time. It has come right out blue, out of nowhere."

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson tweeted: "G8 decision is a vote of confidence in Northern Ireland. Very welcome and great opportunity to showcase the province."

Press Association

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