Five-star Lough Erne Resort for €12.4m
NORTHERN IRELAND’S only five-star hotel and golf facility, Lough Erne Resort, near Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, is to be offered for sale on the international market after being put into administration by the Lloyds-owned Bank of Scotland (Ireland).
Paul Collins of Dublin agent CBRE Hotels is to seek offers in the region of £10 million (€12.432 million) for what is described as “a world class golf resort” set among 345 acres on a picturesque peninsula overlooking Lough Erne. The resort cost €35 million to develop.
It is the third exclusive golf centre to come on the market in recent months. Colliers is currently seeking €20 million for Fota Island Golf Resort in Cork which extends to 500 acres and includes two golf courses, a five-star hotel and 59 lodges.
Meanwhile Knight Frank is also looking for a buyer at €12 million for the 688-acre Palmerstown House Estate near Johnstown on the Dublin/Kildare border which was developed by Jim Mansfield and includes the restored mansion, an 18-hole golf course and six helicopter pads which were heavily used during the boom.
International investors looking at the three centres are also likely to consider Parknasilla, the four-star Co Kerry resort and spa, which has 83 bedrooms, 62 villas and lodges and a 12-hole golf course every bit as scenic as the one overlooking Lough Erne. It is currently being marketed by Savills.
The Co Fermanagh resort is being offered for sale on the instructions of KPMG’s John Hansen and Stuart Irwin who were appointed joint administrators to Castle Hume Leisure Ltd, an investment vehicle controlled by businessman Jim Treacy. Last May his newly expanded SuperValu store at Churchtown in south Dublin was also put into receivership and subsequently sold.
Treacy embarked on his ambitious plan to develop the North’s top golf resort in 1999 when he bought the little known Castle Hume golf course based at an obscure island between Upper Lough Erne and Castle Hume Lough. The adjoining lands were subsequently acquired and the hotel with 120 bedrooms and suites along with 25 golf lodges opened for business in September, 2007.
The first nine holes of the Nick Faldo designed course became playable in 2008 and a year later the full championship course opened. As well as a second 18-hole course, Lough Erne also has two floodlit driving ranges and the only Faldo Academy in Europe. The magazine Golf Monthly has rated the Faldo course in the top 100 golf courses in the UK and Ireland.
Lough Erne’s reputation as a luxurious resort was endorsed from the early stages by its touring professional Rory McIlroy, the world’s top professional golfer. But the unexpected economic crisis which took hold in 2008 led to a fall-off in business not only at Lough Erne but at all the top clubs in the Republic.
“Recovery since then has been slow and painful at most of the clubs,” according to one expert but he says that with Irish professional golfers constantly in the news and the tourist boards now heavily promoting golfing holidays on both sides of the Border, he expected the market to pick up relatively soon.
Even if the golfing market remains challenging, Lough Erne has a range of other facilities that make it one of the top tourist attractions in the North.
It was rated the “Best Hotel” at the 2011 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards not only because of a skilled staff, but also because of its luxurious rooms, panoramic views over the lakes, its high quality restaurants and an authentic Thai spa.
The hotel has also built up a considerable conference and wedding business where it can seat up to 400 guests. As well as the 25 substantially completed three, four and five-bedroom holiday homes close to the entrance there is planning permission for another 18 units. The resort is within five minutes’ drive of Enniskillen.