Dalata keen to stay on Ballsbridge Hotel site, chief executive says

State’s largest hotel operator performing ‘ahead of expectations’, according to trading update

Dalata chairman John Hennessy and chief executive Pat McCann at the company’s AGM on Thursday. Photograph: Maxwells

Dalata chairman John Hennessy and chief executive Pat McCann at the company’s AGM on Thursday. Photograph: Maxwells

 

Dalata Hotel Group, the State’s largest hotel operator, wants to acquire the lease for the new hotel being planned for the site on which the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin s sits.

The Ballsbridge Hotel is currently operated by Dalata, which has a lease agreement on it up to at least the end of October with an option, at the discretion of the site owner, to extend up to the end of March, 2019.

After that the hotel will be demolished to make way for a number of apartments and, according to recently filed planning permission, a 211-bedroom hotel.

At Dalata’s annual general meeting (agm) on Thursday, in response to a question from a shareholder, chief executive Pat McCann said, “We have no deal done on that, watch this space”.

Asked by The Irish Times whether the company was keen on leasing the new hotel, Mr McCann said: “We would, if it’s a deal that suits us and the board approve”.

He explained the company was “very close to Chartered Land”, the developers of the site, and said that company would make its decision on the best commercial deal it can get.

“If that’s with us, great, if it’s not it’ll be with somebody else.

“We’ve been working with them on design, but that’s as far as it goes. They’re under no obligation to us, but we’re always hopeful,” Mr McCann said.

Positivity

The site in question was bought by bankrupt developer Sean Dunne at the peak of Ireland’s property boom for €380 million. The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority is backing the current project.

A trading update issued prior to Dalata’s agm showed positivity from the company with chairman John Hennessy saying that revenue per available room in the company’s Dublin properties has been “marginally ahead of our expectations”.

“Following another very successful year in 2017, trading performance in the first four months of 2018 has been a little ahead of our expectations,” Mr Hennessy told shareholders.

Dalata is on track to open a substantial portfolio of rooms this year including 106 at the Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport and more at the new Maldron Hotel Kevin Street. Mr McCann told shareholders the company needs to acquire an additional 7,000 rooms in the the UK in the next five to seven years in line with its UK growth plans. That comes as it aims to grow its UK revenue from the current position of 20 per cent of Dalata’s overall revenue.

Mr McCann told journalists after the agm that the company was also looking at targeting the European market – specifically northern Europe. He said the group has appointed a researcher to look into specific European territories on which it can focus.