Amaris Hospitality, the Irish-led hotel investment and management company behind the Hilton Garden Inn on Dublin's Custom House Quay, is planning to expand in Ireland following the completion on Friday of its £600 million (€678.5 million) acquisition by European property firm LRC Group.
US private equity firm Lone Star sold the Amaris platform and 23 hotels to LRC seven months after completing the disposal of its portfolio of Jurys Inn hotels to Swedish investor Pandox last December for £800 million.
LRC, a fund with its headquarters in Cyprus but founded and run by Israeli investor Yehuda Barashi, has appointed Irish hotelier John Brennan at the helm of Amaris as non-executive chairman of the business.
Mr Brennan, who ran Jurys Inn for six years before it was bought by Lone Star in 2015 and Amaris was created, will also act as a strategic adviser to LRC on all hospitality investments, the fund said.
Meanwhile, Kerry native Peter Stack has been named as the new managing director of Amaris.
“We are very interested in expanding our footprint further in Ireland and are actively exploring a number of exciting opportunities,” said Mr Stack, who previously was head of asset management at Amaris.
Dublin room rates surpassed their 2006 peak two years ago as occupancy rates rebounded in a recovering economy, helped by a dearth of hotel development in the capital following the property crash.
The Irish Hotels Federation insisted this week that the reduced 9 per cent VAT rate, which was introduced during the downturn to boost the hospitality and tourism sectors, remains essential the industry. The lobby group argued that the rate has "supported the creation of over 60,000 additional tourism-related jobs, an increase of 33 per cent" since 2011.
The latest data from travel research firm STR show that revenue per available room in Dublin rose by 13.6 per cent in the year to the end of May, to €146.96, while it surged by 18.3 per cent outside the capital to €92.70.
Occupancy rates in Dublin in May stood at 90.5 per cent, up 1.2 points on the year, while hotels elsewhere in Ireland had an average occupancy of 80.2 per cent, up 5.3 points. While construction has ramped up in recent times, analysts estimate that it will be the end of the decade before the shortage of hotel rooms in Dublin will be eliminated.
Meanwhile, LRC has entered a deal to boost the Amaris portfolio by agreeing to buy an additional seven Hilton-branded hotels in the UK from US-based Oaktree Capital for an undisclosed sum.
LRC ultimately plans to have a portfolio of more than 50 “high-quality, internationally-branded hotel assets” under the Amaris brand. Its current hotels trade under the Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, DoubleTree by Hilton, Mercure and Ibis Styles brands, which between them have 3,800 rooms and employ 1,800 people.The Oaktree hotels employ about 900 people and will add about 1,000 rooms to the group.