Bill Cullen's Kerry hotel 'unaffected'



MANAGEMENT at Muckross Park Hotel have confirmed that the five-star venue will not be affected by this week's crippling court judgement against owner Bill Cullen.

The former star of The Apprentice on Monday consented to an €8.2 million judgement entered against him at the Commercial Court in favour of Danske Bank concerning unpaid loans.

In consenting to Ms Justice Mary Finlay Geoghegan's judgement, counsel for Mr Cullen referred to a "planned sale of property" to reduce the figure, sparking fears the hotel could be sold off.

Contacted on Tuesday, though, Muckross Park Hotel and Cloisters Spa Manager Seán O'Driscoll said the ruling will not affect the Killarney hotel as it is "a completely separate entity".

"The hotel is not part of Glencullen Holdings against which the judgement was made - it is a separate limited entity which is banked entirely separately," Mr O'Driscoll told The Kerryman. "There have been changes in the car trade and that is unfortunate but we have seen 80 percent growth in room sells and have the full support of the directors and the full support of the bank.

"Over 300 hotels are run by banks or NAMA but Muckross Park isn't in that category - we have been self-sustaining since I came on board," he added.

Asked if he had been in contact with Mr Cullen since Monday's judgement, the hotel manager confirmed that he had and that it was business as usual.

Pretax losses at the hotel last year are listed as €358,566 but are significantly lower than losses a year previous which were listed at €3.7m, including a property writedown of €2.6m.

Husband and wife Bill Cullen and Jackie Lavin have spent €9.8m on the hotel since taking ownership in 1990. The couple added 68 rooms, a conference centre and spa to the facility which currently employs 100 people.