Under-pressure McEniff may close hotels for winter
Hotelier Brian McEniff has warned that he might have to consider closing one or two of his premises for the coming winter due to the continuing tough economic environment.
Speaking to the Irish Independent yesterday, Mr McEniff, whose hotel group comprises six operations including the Skylon in Dublin and the Yeats Country Hotel in Sligo, said he faced difficult decisions in coming weeks. He added that, although business isn't as bad so far this year as it was in 2009, the industry was still under intense stress.
"It's very difficult and there's no point in trying to say otherwise," said the former GAA manager for Donegal's football team.
His group typically employs about 300 people during the winter season and up to 500 during the summer. It also owns the Sligo Southern Hotel, the Holyrood and Great Northern hotels in Bundoran, Co Donegal.
He made his comments as newly filed accounts for one of his properties, the Westport Woods Hotel, revealed the premises made a pre-tax loss of €984,000 last year.
That followed a €632,000 loss in 2008. Over €755,000 of last year's loss was attributable to the impairment of fixed-asset investments.
The hotel recently completed a €2.5m extension that enlarged some existing rooms.
Mr McEniff said that, in retrospect, the work had been undertaken at a "most inopportune time".
He added that yields at the hotel had fallen by about half in the past five years as a number of new hotels opened in the area.
The company behind the Westport Woods is called Raymar, and auditors for the firm indicate that there is a "material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt over the company's ability to continue as a going concern".
The accounts note that the hotel has been hit by "fierce competition" on the western seaboard. Mr McEniff said he remains confident for the hotel's future and will continue to support it, but expected it to take a number of years before a turnaround could be sustained. The hotel had net debt totalling €6.6m at the end of 2009.
Mr McEniff said all hoteliers are struggling at the moment and said that the impact is being compounded by a lack of consumer confidence as well as hotels being operated on behalf of banks at what he said are below-cost levels.