A HOTEL bought recently at a knock-down price at auction has had to hire extra staff to cope with a significant increase in business.
Paul Diver paid just €650,000 for the Sandhouse Hotel overlooking Rossnowlagh beach in Co Donegal seven weeks ago.
The 55-bedroom, four-star hotel had once been valued at more than €6m.
Mr Diver, who had been manager of the hotel for 20 years, saved 60 local jobs when he bought the hotel -- and has now created more to cope with extra demand.
"Normally at this time of the year we would have around 35 staff, but this year we are already up to 50 and that's down to the goodwill that has come our way since the auction," he said.
"We were totally booked out over Easter. It is the busiest I've seen it in my 20 years here.
"We even had a couple from America who saw the story on TV . . . We've also just taken a booking from a family in Australia who saw the story on TV there," he added.
Among the new recruits is one 21-year-old who said she would struggle to pay her university fees otherwise.
Siobhan Faherty from nearby Ballyshannon is studying English and history at NUI Maynooth.
"I looked everywhere around here and there wasn't a single job available, so I was delighted when I heard about a job here at the Sandhouse," said the new bar woman.
"There's a real family atmosphere here. I was made welcome straight away and it is such a beautiful place to work," she added.
The hotel has diversified its business model from previous years and that has helped to boost the number of staff in the kitchen, bar and spa.
"In the past, the hotel catered for tourists mainly, but now we are attracting locals for meals and functions and that has been a big help," Mr Diver added.
The 43-year-old said there was "a great buzz" back in the hotel.
Receptionist Nora Harkin (72), who has been at her post since 1961, "even fell asleep during Mass last week she was so busy", he said.
Next month, a Kerry hotel goes under the hammer at the latest Allsops auction in Dublin.
Darby O'Gills hotel, restaurant and pub in Killarney will be offered with a reserve not to exceed €515,000.
"Every situation is different but if you believe in something, put together a water-tight business plan which includes creating jobs for local people and just go for it," Mr Diver advised any bidders.