While transactional activity is somewhat less than what had been anticipated earlier in the year, the hotel industry itself, particularly in Dublin, is showing great resilience with steady growth maintained over the last 12 months.
This was evidenced by the most recent STR Global statistics on occupancy and RevPar for the Dublin region and the most recent visitor numbers from the Central Statistics Office, which showed that tourist numbers are up 12% year-on-year. In addition, a new report issued this month by PricewaterhouseCoopers has forecast that occupancy rates in Dublin hotels are likely to grow by 6.0% in 2011 and by a further 2.8% next year.
A global Irish homecoming event, to be known as “The Gathering”, announced at the recent Global Economic Summit in Dublin Castle, is to be staged in 2013. This and other new tourist initiatives such as the recent launch of the www.irelandbyappointment.com website and the filming of a new Tourism Ireland TV campaign are designed specifically to attract more tourists to Ireland and should be welcomed and encouraged.
From a property perspective, negotiations are continuing on the sale of a number of hotel properties around the country including Kilkea Castle Hotel in Kildare; the Killerig Hotel in Carlow and the Pearse Hotel on Pearse Street in Dublin. There is a particularly encouraging level of international interest in the Morrison Hotel in Dublin city centre, which was recently brought to the market on the instructions of receivers for NAMA, guiding €25 million. To date, there have been over 70 expressions of interest in this prime hotel asset, which is trading very well, with enquiries from all over the world. The first round of bids for this hotel is due in the next couple of weeks.
While there is disappointment at the slow rate at which hotels are being brought to the market, once some of the more high-profile hotel transactions are completed, we expect to see more hotel properties being formally launched for sale.
In the pub sector, there is still good demand for prime properties as was evidenced by the recently agreed sale of the Pier House in Howth, which had been guiding €1 million. The well-known Stout Bar in Rathmines, which had been guiding €2 million, generated considerable interest and has now gone to best bids.
The focus for the next two months is to conclude negotiations on a number of hotel and licensed properties before the traditional year-end.