The head of the Irish-owned Doyle Collection hotel group has said there has been a “clear uptick” in bookings from American visitors planning to travel to Ireland next year, as the hospitality sector here recovers from the impact of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Commenting to The Irish Times about its results for last year, Pat King, chief executive of the hotel chain, described 2020 as an “exceptionally challenging year” for the group. “The stop-start impact was felt right through the business and is reflected in the 2020 results,” he said.
Accounts for Doyle Hotels (Holdings) Ltd show it recorded turnover of just €34.1 million last year, down from €148.3 million in 2019. The group posted a pretax loss of €90 million in 2020 compared with a profit of €8.4 million a year earlier.
The group also took a €47.9 million write-down on its assets. The Doyle Collection comprises eight high-end properties in Ireland, Britain and Washington DC, including the five-star Westbury, just off Grafton Street in Dublin.
Surge for suites
It is owned by members of the Doyle and Beatty families and traces its roots back to a company founded by well-known Irish hotelier PV Doyle.
“As we have emerged from the pandemic, trade is recovering well across our hotels in Ireland, the UK and the US,” Mr King said. “The recovery is led by leisure trade, which is performing ahead of expectations. We have maintained strong room rates, benefitting from the extensive refurbishment investment we committed to prior to and during the pandemic closures.
“Interestingly, there has been a surge in demand for our upgraded suites, particularly the terraced suites in London, Dublin and Washington. Our food and beverage business has also performed well.
“While corporate business recovery has lagged leisure trade, we are now seeing a definitive uplift in our forward bookings and anticipate that we’ll see the corporate trade recovery gaining pace in the initial quarters of 2022. There is also a clear uptick in US bookings into Ireland next year as Americans commence travelling again.”
The Doyle group accessed a number of Government supports to offset the impact of lockdown restrictions and to maintain employment levels. It received €5.6 million from the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and €3.4 million from the Irish State via wage subsidy schemes.
The hotel group pressed ahead with a €23 million investment in capital expenditure during the pandemic, with the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington DC completely refurbished and 60 bedrooms upgraded at its Marylebone and Kensington properties in London.
It refinanced its loan facilities in June 2020, which included an additional credit facility and interest capitalisation. The interest charge remained stable at €9.2 million.