Thursday 25 May 2017

Bertie's old haunt one of three hotels taken from McNamara

The Parknasilla Hotel in Kerry where the former taoiseach Bertie Ahern often spent part of the summer holidays
The Parknasilla Hotel in Kerry where the former taoiseach Bertie Ahern often spent part of the summer holidays
Bertie Ahern
The pool and spa at Parknasilla, Sneem
The Burlington Hotel

Siobhan Creaton

BERTIE Ahern's favourite holiday hideaway, the Parknasilla Hotel in Kerry, and Dublin's famous Burlington Hotel, have gone into receivership.

A third hotel also owned by property developer Bernard McNamara, the Cork International, has also been taken over by accountant Paul McCann.

The Co Clare-born developer has debts of more than €1.5bn, that includes more than €200m he owes to Bank of Scotland (Ireland), which appointed the receiver yesterday.

The hotels employ 180 staff and Mr McCann said they would continue to be employed. He also moved to reassure customers that all deposits and money pre-paid for events at these hotels would be honoured.

"It is business as usual in all hotels with no impact on the day-to-day operations," he said. There are no immediate plans to sell any of the three properties, according to Mr McCann.

At the height of the property boom, Mr McNamara paid €288m for the Burlington, the central Dublin venue that hosts many high-profile events including sports awards and Fianna Fail's Cairde Fail annual fundraiser.

He also spent another €100m buying an adjoining site from insurer Allianz and had received planning permission to develop the sites.

In 2006, he also purchased the Parknasilla Hotel, which had been part of the Great Southern Hotel group owned by the State, for €44m.

The resort in Sneem, Co Kerry, that dates back to 1692, has long been a favourite with politicians, royals and writers.

For the past 20 years, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern holidayed there with family and friends. Other high-profile guests have included George Bernard Shaw, the late Princess Grace of Monaco and her husband Prince Rainier as well as other European kings and queens.

Today it has 83 bedrooms and suites as well as self-catering lodges and villas overlooking Kenmare Bay.

The Cork International Hotel is close to the city's airport and the city centre.

Mr McNamara stepped down from the board of the company that controlled the Burlington Hotel in 2009. Bank of Scotland (Ireland), which provided the loan finance for the purchase, also took a stake in the hotel and owns about 30pc of it.

Prices spiked

The Burlington Hotel was part of the Jurys Doyle group that was dismantled following the sale of its flagship Dublin hotels as property prices spiked. Mr McNamara also bought the Tara Towers hotel that was also owned by the Doyle family, with plans to redevelop it.

Reports surfaced last year that an offer had been made to purchase the Burlington from Mr McNamara's company of just over €40m, a fraction of the €288m he paid for it in 2007.

Its central location and its facilities to cater for large groups of people make it a popular venue and the hotel is said to be trading reasonably well. Other bids are likely to surface for it, although it is hard to speculate on how much it might eventually be sold for.

The Parknasilla is a trophy asset and will appeal to upmarket hotel groups. It has won many international awards and has been extensively refurbished and includes a spa.

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