Saturday 1 October 2016

Aviation guru Slattery backs Lynch hotel plan

Published 05/06/2015 | 02:30

Aviation entrepreneur Domhnal Slattery.
Aviation entrepreneur Domhnal Slattery.

Four years after his family empire crumbled, well-known hotelier Michael Lynch is bouncing back into the trade with the backing of aviation entrepreneur Domhnal Slattery.

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The Irish Independent has learned that Mr Slattery has stumped up €100,000 in funding under an employment and investment incentive scheme for a new vehicle established by Mr Lynch.

It's thought it will help bankroll the operation of the Kilkee Bay Hotel in Co Clare, where Mr Lynch is understood to have taken over the lease.

Mr Lynch declined to comment, as did Mr Slattery. However, it's believed there are strong family connections between the pair that stretch back decades. Mr Slattery, who's chief executive of aircraft leasing firm Avolon, and Michael Lynch are both natives of Ennis.

As the Irish economy imploded, Mr Lynch struggled to keep his family's hotel empire afloat. In 2009, the Lynch Hotel Group, which controlled seven hotels, including Breaffy House in Castlebar and the George Hotel in Limerick, voluntarily entered examinership with over €22m in debts. It successfully exited that process later that year, with preferential creditors accepting an 85pc writedown on debts.

But the business, like most other hotel operations here at the time, continued to struggle.

In 2011, a receiver was appointed to the Lynch group's flagship property, the West County Hotel.

Breaffy House and the Clare Inn Hotel in Dromoland were also placed in receivership.

In 2013, Mr Lynch established a hotel management firm called Sonas Hotels, and prior to that had been acting as a consultant to the UK-based Hayley Group, which has 24 hotels. He headed its food and beverage division.

The backing from Mr Slattery comes amid a resurgent Irish hotel sector. That's been witnessed in cities, but has also been spreading to other areas.

Kilkee is a popular summer retreat for Limerick city dwellers, and is also likely to benefit from the emergence of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Failte Ireland reckons that 80pc of Irish hotels will see an increase in business this year. A weak euro is also helping to boost tourism traffic from the US and the UK.

Mr Slattery co-founded Avolon in 2010. It floated on the New York Stock Exchange last December, in what was a record debut on the bourse for an Irish firm. Mr Slattery also made millions from selling a previous aircraft-leasing business.

Irish Independent

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