Banks that are owed money can go to the courts to ask to take over the hotels from their owners as a way to get their loans repaid.
Once the court gives the bank the go-ahead it will appoint a receiver, usually an accountant, to seize control of it from the owner. Since 2008, about six accountants have been hired by the foreign banks to run some of the country's most luxurious hotels.
The receiver usually hires hotel operators to manage the hotel and every few weeks he reports back to the bank. For now, the banks are prepared to keep these hotels open as they see this as the best chance of maintaining their value. It can cost as much as €1m to successfully re-open and re-launch a luxury hotel.
Ultimately, the banks will be hoping to sell these hotels when the market recovers but only time will tell how long the banks will keep them open.
Ireland's new hoteliers: