Big names party as iconic hotel re-opens
SHE may have invested almost €30m in one of the country's most iconic hotels, but Russia's richest woman only paid a fleeting visit to Ireland to cast an eye over her €22m acquisition.
Construction billionaire Elena Baturina, who has a €22bn fortune, was here for a mere three hours yesterday to cut the ribbon on the refurbished Morrison Hotel in Dublin, which re-opened after a €7m refurbishment.
It has mostly all the same staff as before, but new general manager Patrick Joyce ensured it has moved with the times with a revamped art deco vibe.
He said: "It's the first full refurbishment in the last few years in Ireland. It's a bit of positivity."
The 138-bedroom Morrison, which will operate under the Hilton's DoubleTree brand, first opened in 1999 as part of the late Hugh O'Regan's empire. It was bought by Ms Baturina from NAMA.
Although the new owner was not in attendance at last night's champagne-fuelled party, there were plenty of well-known faces.
Former Westlife singer Nicky Byrne said he had had offers for other TV roles since he took to the 'Strictly Come Dancing' stage for the BBC.
"I'm not ruling anything out at the moment," he said. "I'd like to do presenting."
Others at the party included tailor Louis Copeland, model Alison Canavan, radio presenter Mairead Farrell and Eurovision hopeful Kasey Smith.