The newest hotel in Dublin, the 393-bedroom Travelodge Plus in the city centre, is understood to have been hired exclusively by the State to accommodate people seeking asylum in Ireland.
The Townsend Street property near the quays, which is estimated to have cost €100 million to build and is the second-biggest hotel in the central city area, was supposed to open to the public for the first time in January. It is believed that its owner, the Tifco hotel group, recently signed a deal with the International Protection Accommodation Service (Ipas) division of the Department of Children, which is responsible for housing people seeking refuge in Ireland.
Tifco declined to comment on the deal last night, while the department had made no response prior to publication to a request for comment.
Tifco was still publicly touting the impending opening of the Travelodge Plus shortly before Christmas. However, potential customers who contact the hotel to inquire about bookings are being told by staff members that it is currently not open to the public as it has been booked out by a large customer.
The new hotel is listed as unavailable on all major hospitality booking platforms such as Booking. com, although it does appear to be possible to book rooms at the hotel from June, which suggests that the deal to operate exclusively as a centre for asylum seekers may be of limited duration.
The deal is the second major transaction in the Dublin hotel market in recent weeks by Ipas. The new 421-bedroom Holiday Inn at Dublin Airport, which opened its doors last July, has shut to the public and is operating as a centre for asylum seekers for the next year at least.
Easing travel rules
Ipas is understood to have engaged agents to find new private sector sources of accommodation to relieve some of the strain on the direct provision system, following a spike of 3,300 new asylum seekers who have arrived in Ireland since October, when pandemic travel rules eased internationally.
Ipas is said to be extremely active in the hotel market. It is believed to be offering some hoteliers deals of about €100 per room per night to house asylum seekers. Sources have said that some hotels have signed deals guaranteeing 100 per cent occupancy at those rates.
Tifco, which is owned by US private equity group Apollo, could expect to be paid close to €1.2 million per month by the State for the exclusive use of the new Travelodge Plus at those rates.
The State has contracts to house asylum seekers with about 40 different hotels. It recently closed a tender for a panel of new accommodation providers, including hotels for single people and couples and “own door” facilities for families. It estimated that the value of the tender could be €500 million over the next 34 months, when the system of direct provision is set to be overhauled.
The Tifco hotel group owns or operates about 25 hotels in the Irish market, including 11 under the Travelodge franchise.