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Dublin's hotels return to boomtime as visitor numbers recover

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Dublin's hotels are showing occupancy levels of 76.3pc. Photo: Lucian H Milasan

Dublin's hotels are showing occupancy levels of 76.3pc. Photo: Lucian H Milasan

Dublin's hotels are showing occupancy levels of 76.3pc. Photo: Lucian H Milasan

Dublin's hotels are as busy as they were during the boom years, but the rates they're charging are 22pc lower than they were in 2007, according to a new survey by accounting and consulting firm Crowe Horwath.

The annual study shows that occupancy rates in the capital hit 76.3pc in 2013, helped by The Gathering initiative that drew tourists to the country. That compares with a 76.8pc occupancy rate in 2007.

Dublin hotels are charging an average of €90.73 a night for a room. But the capital's hotels are generating profits near levels last seen seven years ago as they benefit from lower costs.

The survey has also highlighted the continuing two-tier recovery in the sector, with hotels outside the capital often still struggling.

Room rates at hotels on the western seaboard remained 40pc below those in Dublin, with rates at €64.51 a night in 2013.

In the midlands and east of the country, room rates last year stood at an average of €76.14 and were more or less the same in the south west.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Aiden Murphy, a partner at Crowe Horwath's corporate recovery unit, said that while turnover is up at hotels outside Dublin, that's not filtering through to the bottom line "in any meaningful way".

He said that's probably because hotels cut back on costs during the downturn, but staff who shouldered that restructuring are now probably demanding higher wages as performance improves. He added that hotels outside Dublin are busier, with room rates having climbed by about 3pc last year on average.

"Profit levels are starting to rise gradually," said Mr Murphy of properties outside the capital.

But he said hotels where owners have managed to resize and restructure debt are among those benefiting most. Those that haven't remain stuck in a cycle where they have to keep costs and capital expenditure down, leaving them further behind rivals.

Mr Murphy also said that hotels in the midlands and east of the country, outside of the capital, have occupancy rates of around 60pc on average - a level that would need to rise to around 65pc to leave them in a more comfortable position.

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