Business Irish

Saturday 10 December 2016

Website banned from booking Shelbourne in row over unpaid bills

Published 22/08/2015 | 02:30

IW Shelbourne Hotel.JPG
IW Shelbourne Hotel.JPG

Holidaymakers are no longer able to book rooms in the Shelbourne Hotel using travel website Expedia because of a dispute over unpaid invoices.

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The row is believed to result from differing rules in Ireland and the US over the deadlines for submitting bills. Here, companies have up to two years to seek payment but in America the limit is just six months.

Both parties are in discussions over the dispute. However, no time frame as to when a resolution will be reached has been set.

A spokesman for The Shelbourne declined to comment when asked about the dispute.

Currently, if a person tries to book a room through Expedia, they are told there are "no rooms available".

When asked about the ongoing discussions, a spokesperson for Expedia said: "For now, we aren't able to discuss details of confidential discussions between the Shelbourne and Expedia."

Other travel websites appear to be free from the ban, as bookings can be made on Trivago, Booking.com, HotelClub and eBookers.ie.

Bookings cannot be made on Expedia's affiliate site, Hotels.com, as it too cites "no availability".

In the US, there are special statutory limitations that apply to both hotels and restaurants. They say that invoices need to be sent within six months. It is understood that the focus of the dispute is around this.

The Shelbourne is part of Marriot International which also incorporates the likes of the Ritz Carlton, Bulgari Hotels and Resorts, and Delta Hotels and Resorts.

Expedia is in the process of acquiring fellow US hotel comparison site Orbitz Worldwide, which is linked with eBookers and HotelClub.

Bookings on those sites can be made as they are not yet officially affiliated with Expedia.

It is a move that has been largely opposed by the hotel industry, which feels that should the merger go through Expedia would have such control of the market that they could drive charges up and impose higher costs on the industry.

Expedia's $1.3bn (€1.15bn) bid for Orbitz is under review by the US government. The Bellevue-based travel giant put their take over of the company back by three months from August 12 to November 12.

Expedia did not give a reason for the delay to the merger but it is believed that both companies are allowed to back out of the deal in the new time frame.

If Orbitz becomes a part of Expedia, it will be the latest in a line of acquisitions that saw it take over Travelocity and Wotif.com. It also gained a majority share in Malaysian low-cost airline Air Asia.

The five-star Shelbourne Hotel is one of Ireland's most well known hotels and was bought by a consortium led by Bernard McNamara back in 2004.

Last year, the hotel's debts were purchased by US property investment group Kennedy Wilson.

The investment group bought the loan notes secured by the Shelbourne for $152.4m (€134.2m) in March of last year.

Irish Independent

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