Sunday 4 December 2016

Seasons change as iconic hotel up for sale

Allison Bray and Michael McHale

Published 20/09/2010 | 05:00

IN A move which will "send shockwaves through the industry" , the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin, is up for sale after posting losses of €2m.

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The icon of the Celtic Tiger era attracted well-heeled and celebrity guests, including Eminem and Mariah Carey, down the years.

Nightly room rates at the five-star hotel range from €200 for a basic room to €765 for a junior suite.

But the hotel has been badly hit by the recession and the decline in the number of American business guests.

Paul Gallagher of the Irish Hotels Federation said the sale would send shockwaves through the industry and "raise distress".

Despite implementing a cost-cutting plan this year to save €2m, the hotel lost the same amount in profits last year.

Investors last night confirmed that they had appointed property consultants CBRE to put the hotel on the market.

Hotelier Francis Brennan told RTE news that the hotel was up for sale.

However, it is understood that the Four Seasons hotel chain will continue to run the hotel as part of its long-term management contract.

Officials from the hotel could not be reached for comment last night.

The Four Seasons is owned by an 18-member consortium known as the Nollaig Partnership, which borrowed €50m from Anglo Irish Bank. Key shareholders include Pat O'Donnell and Derek Quinlan, who both have a 30pc stake in the hotel.

They and other shareholders now face a total wipeout of their shares as the price of the hotel, if and when it is sold, is not expected to exceed the amount owed to Anglo Irish Bank.

The hotel and its trendy Ice Bar were among the top haunts for Ireland's rich and famous.

Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds lives in the top floor of the hotel, which has been converted into apartments, and the late RTE broadcaster Gerry Ryan was among the Ice Bar's regulars.

British actor Colin Firth and singer Cheryl Crow were also among the hotel's former guests and many high-profile performers, including Boyzone, have called into the bar after playing gigs at the adjacent RDS.

According to the 'Lonely Planet 2004', the Ice Bar was "the latest place for young single 20-somethings with infinite disposal incomes to be seen".

Shock

"Flash your convertible beemer car keys at the door for speedy access. The all-white chichi interior with central chrome and marble bar is softened by some lovely specially commissioned wall hangings by Irish artists," the travel guide reads.

According to New York food and hospitality bible, the 'Zagat Survey', the Four Seasons Dublin was one of the world's top hotels in 2007.

Last night, Four Seasons visitors and regular customers expressed their shock at hearing about the news. "We come now and again for a spot of lunch," one Dublin patron said. "We'd miss it if it were to go."

Irish Independent

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