A HOTEL bought by its manager for €650,000 despite once being valued at €6m is to re-open two months earlier than normal due to demand
Paul Diver (46), who bought the Sand House Hotel in Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, at a distressed property auction last March, said: "We shut down just before Christmas and we will re-open two months early on February 1. The staff are delighted."
More than 35 staff will return in three weeks' time, with another 35 joining them during the peak season from late May onwards.
"It's been a fairytale year for me," said the new owner of the 50-bedroom hotel. "I knew that once I bought it there would be a lot of hard work because it had been in administration for more than two years."
Most visitors used to come from abroad, mainly Britain and America. While they're still staying at the beachfront hotel, they've been joined by many more from around Ireland.
"I think people like the idea that someone who ran a hotel for 20 years managed to buy it," said Mr Diver.
"We've had visitors all year from every county in Ireland and it has been their goodwill which has created that extra four months of business and much-needed jobs for people here in Co Donegal.
"All the staff are from within a 10km radius of Rossnowlagh, and that creates a real family feel.
"The permanent staff of 35 are delighted they're starting back early. Normally I say I'll see them at Easter, but not this year. They've the whole of January off to enjoy before the hard work begins again."
Staff member Siobhan Faherty (22), from nearby Ballyshannon, said she was "over the moon". "It means so much to me because it means I can help pay for my studies," said the part-time waitress, who is studying history and English at NUI Maynooth.
"I had to try to find work down there last year which meant I couldn't be home at weekends. Now I come home and work here and I love it."