Thursday 20 June 2019

War of words erupts between Dalata and Fáilte Ireland chiefs

Kelly defends comments on 1,000-bedroom hotel for Dublin after Dalata's Pat McCann calls idea 'biggest load of rot'

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Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

A WAR of words has erupted between Ireland's top hotelier Pat McCann and Fáilte Ireland boss Paul Kelly.

Mr McCann said yesterday that building a 1,000-room hotel in Dublin to allow large-scale conferences to house delegates under one roof is "the biggest load of rot".

He was speaking after Mr Kelly said the lack of hotels in the 800- to 1,000-bedroom range was costing Dublin business from conferences.

Mr Kelly was reported as saying that such a hotel was needed near the Convention Centre on Dublin's quays, and that it would appeal to companies who could come to Dublin for a conference and put all their delegates in the same place.

But Mr McCann said a hotel that focused on conference custom would face big fluctuations in occupancy rates, and that this would cause problems because of the higher fixed costs associated with a larger hotel. "This idea that it'll be kept exclusively for conferences and meetings - it doesn't work anywhere in the world," he said.

"It's naivety in the extreme...every hotel needs a structured build of business.

"It needs tour operator business, it needs corporates, it needs event-driven business... if you don't have that you don't have a sustainable business model."

But a spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland said that Mr Kelly "never suggested that a hotel of this size should be kept exclusively for conferences and meetings alone".

"Dublin is currently experiencing an issue with hotel capacity and at present has one of the highest capacity rates to similar-sized cities in Europe," the spokesperson said.

"Our experience within the global business tourism sector is that there is a demand for having an 800 to 1,000-bedroom hotel in Dublin as it would significantly support the city to attract even more large conferences."

Mr McCann was speaking at the inaugural 'Executive Summit' in Dublin yesterday, a conference organised by 20-year-old entrepreneur Barry O'Sullivan, an economics student at UCC.

The Dalata chief, who runs Ireland's biggest hotel group (owners of the Clayton and Maldron brands), said his business had performed well in the first quarter of this year.

"In the first quarter we've seen good strong growth on the first quarter of last year, which was a very strong time for us quite frankly so I'm quite encouraged about what I'm seeing coming through. And I suppose the key to it is the mix of business that you have," Mr McCann said.

"If you look at where the real demand is coming through it's on the corporate side from the FDIs like the Googles, the Facebooks and the Amazons and all of that."

Irish Independent

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