Last week a syndicate of financial institutions led by Ulster Bank is reported to have taken control of the hotels that make up the D4 Hotel Group located in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin. Over six years ago the lenders had provided finance to Carlow property developer Sean Dunne to acquire the former Berkeley Court hotel and Jurys hotel in the upmarket area of Dublin in a deal worth some €400 million. It is reported that at the height of the property boom Mr Dunne paid some €125 million for the five-star Berkeley Court and €275 for Jurys Hotel.
The lenders have reportedly appointed Dalata Hotel Group to take over the management of the hotels in Ballsbridge. Dalata is run by Pat McCann, the former chief executive of the Jurys Doyle hotel group and in an ironic twist it was Mr McCann who was involved in the negotiation of the sale of the hotels to Mr Dunne back in 2005.
The initial plan was to build an exclusive high-rise mixed development on the site of the hotels and the centrepiece of the projected €1.5 billion development was to be a 37-storey tower. However, the plan was rejected by An Bord Pleanála in January 2009 and the hotels were reopened under the D4 brand. In recent years the hotels have been re-positioned, operating as budget hotels with accommodation sometimes being offered from as little as €37 a night.
All this is now expected to change under the control of the Dalata Group. It is believed that the two Dublin hotels will be possibly rebranded as the Berkeley Court and the Ballsbridge Hotel and moved up into the four-star category. The price of a room in both establishments is also expected to rise accordingly. It is also believed that extra funds will be made available to renovate some of the rooms in the hotels. The ground-floor of the former Jurys hotel has already received a €4 million up-grade due to flood damage caused by the heavy rainfall that took place in Dublin in October last year.
Dalata is the biggest hotel group in Ireland and has some 4,000 bedrooms in 23 hotels. It runs 11 Maldron hotels and a further 12 hotels under management contracts for a variety of clients. These include the former Citywest Hotel in Saggart, Finnstown House in west Dublin, Breaffy House in Co Mayo, Whites in Wexford and the Clayton Hotel in Galway.