PROPERTY values in the Irish hotel market are surging, and international investors are now flooding the market in a manner that has never been seen before.
Ahead of next week's Hotel Property Conference in Dublin, it has emerged that brokers are fielding calls from investors around the world about the possibility of investing in the Irish market, especially the capital, as property values increase sharply.
Hugh Taylor, who is chief executive of UK firm Michels & Taylor Asset Management, said that while his firm had not directly invested in the Irish market up to now, there is now a real sense that there is value to be had on the island now.
Mr Taylor's firm is behind a new hotel brand being set up as a joint venture with Ulster Bank, while it has also taken over the management contract at the Citywest Hotel.
"In our case we didn't go into Ireland before because we didn't want to go in, but overall it is being seen as a very good market to invest in now.
"The market is starting to recover, and it is certainly turning around now so that is something we are very conscious of," he said.
Mr Taylor, who will outline his firm's strategy in Ireland at the conference on December 10, added that while a host of big name brands such as Hilton have entered Ireland in recent years, the hotels that come under the Ulster Bank JV will have a domestically focused brand name.
"Ireland is renowned for its hospitality, and there is a sense that while the big brands work in Dublin, in the provincial market they can actually be a deterrent to trade, and that is something we want to avoid," he added.
Former Jurys' chief executive Peter Malone, who will chair the conference which will be at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dublin Hotel (formerly the Burlington Hotel), said the influx of international players could only be good for the market overall.
"Ireland traditionally had almost no hotels that carried a big international brand, but that is changing rapidly.
"Business travellers in particular tend to look for a brand name that they recognise so it is something that has really been of benefit to the market overall.
"Some of the brands are not here but are now looking and hopefully this conference will give a bigger drive to them to move into Ireland.
"It is setting the mood for the sector overall.
"We are bringing almost all the major players in the sector into one place so the conference promises to be very interesting indeed."
The Irish Independent is media partner of the Hotel Property Conference. Full details are available at www.propertyconference.ie/