Cullen hopes price cuts will help shift luxury pads
Millionaire businessman Bill Cullen may be pushing Apprentice hopefuls to the limit but the star of the hit TV3 show will be hoping he still has the magic touch himself as he launches the sale this week of a €7m apartment complex sale at his exclusive hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry.
The businessman turned author has admitted that "location, location, location" no longer applies and has knocked an estimated €100,000 off the value of individual units at The Reserve, a complex of 24 luxury apartments at five-star Muckross Park Hotel & Cloisters Spa, in an attempt to move the properties.
The Penny Apples author and his partner Jackie Lavin are selling the apartments on the edge of Killarney National Park and only a stone's throw from the grounds of one of Ireland's top visitor sites, Muckross House and Gardens.
The complex is 20 yards from the entrance to the five-star hotel -- a favourite haunt of playwright George Bernard Shaw from where he wrote Pygmalion, the forerunner to My Fair Lady.
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According to the Renault dealer-turned Apprentice star, the apartments are the only properties for sale in Ireland's first and largest national park.
"We don't expect many enquiries coming from people who want to use these as their permanent home. They are very much suited to the out-of-town investor, as a holiday home or investment property, people who love Killarney and would like to have a low-maintenance residence here but at the right price," he said yesterday.
From inner-city Dublin, Cullen made his fortune principally in the car business and wrote a best-selling autobiography It's a Long Way from Penny Apples in 2002.
Now the former street seller is offering five-star treatments like a concierge and butler service as an optional extra as one of the sweeteners to sell his apartments. "The market is depressed and in a market like this you just have to offer more," he said.
"We are doing that by ensuring that whoever buys at The Reserve can get the same level of service as if they were staying in the hotel. Location is still key but is no longer the be all and end all like it would have been a few years ago.
"Right now value is more important as even those with the deepest pockets are demanding value like never before," he added.
He said the apartments, starting at €225,000, were "the best value on the market today" and compare with the best in any premium tourism destination in the world.
The 'smart apartment' version -- complete with handheld touch-screen remote to control music, a TV, granite worktops, night & day colour intercom on all TVs and touch-screen panels, plus a concealed end-of-bed, motorised pop-up TV -- is on the market at €295,000 -- believed to be €100,000 less than the projected asking price when the complex was planned in 2007.