Hotels and guesthouses turn away customers

A NUMBER of Cork city’s major hotels and guesthouses had to close or turn customers away as a result of last week’s floods.

Among the worst affected was the five star Kingsley Hotel on the Carrigrohane Road. Its ground floor, which contains bars, restaurant and function rooms, was destroyed along with the extensive leisure centre. More than 240 guests had to be rescued by farmers from nearby Waterfall, with tractors and trailers.

“We are closed at the moment and we have assessors in so we will not know for a day or so when we can reopen again. It’s just a case of mopping up,” said a spokesperson for the hotel which employs more than 100 staff.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen visited the Kingsley yesterday while President Mary McAleese, a frequent visitor, also rang to offer comfort.

The hotel’s marketing director Seamus Heaney described the devastation as being of biblical proportions. “A mini tsunami hit us on Thursday night,” he said. “We had a hotel full of guests and the restaurant was also full. We had a warning earlier they were going to release water from the Inniscarra dam which they did and we were able to cope with that, but what happened between two and four in the morning was devastating.

“The entire reception area, all the furnishing and carpets of the reception area have been destroyed. I saw chairs from the bar floating down the river and cars floating away onto the main road. The entire ground floor is just ruined. Our 20m indoor heated pool is completely and utterly black as the water came way over that level.”

In contrast, Jury’s Hotel on the city’s Western Road, an area turned into a river during the height of the floods, escaped unscathed and is fully open for business. “It was a miracle,” said a spokesperson. “We were saved by the humpy bridge over the river outside the hotel. That prevented the flood water from getting in.”

Other hotels, although not directly affected by floods, had to close for a period or curtail activities due to lack of mains water.

The Maldron Hotel Cork in Shandon closed on Sunday when mains water was turned off by the city council. General manager Aidan Moynihan said a number of guests were transferred to other accommodation.

“We provided them with alternative accommodation and the Clarion has been particularly helpful in this regard. All we can do is plug away. It will affect our revenue, of course, but all we can do is plug away and remain hopeful.”

Mr Moynihan felt it was a disgrace the manner in which ESB released water from the Inniscarra dam in the early hours of Friday morning. “It is an absolute outrage, if it had been done at least during the day and if a sufficient warning was given something could have been done.”

The four star Clarion Hotel on Lapp’s Quay, the largest hotel in Cork, had to close its leisure centre, along with pool area, last Friday when mains water supply was cut off in parts of the city centre. The leisure centre reopened yesterday after Cork City Council restored the supply.

Around the corner from the Clarion, Jury’s Inn on Anderson’s Quay, was not as badly affected. “We have running water but we are conserving and we haven’t been hugely affected,” said a spokesperson.

The Imperial Hotel on the South Mall, one of the city’s most historic hotels, has not had to close but is quickly running out of water and had to shut down bedrooms on the fourth floor.

“We had a container delivery today to fill our water tank, but it is running out so we are just playing it by ear at the moment. We hope things will be back to normal by next weekend.”

The Ambassador Hotel on Military Hill is remaining open by ferrying fresh water from its sister hotel, Oriel House, in Ballincollig.

The Gresham Metropole in MacCurtain Street is still open for business but, like the Clarion, has had to close its leisure centre. “We have had cancellations, obviously, and lost a considerable amount of a revenue, but at least we didn’t suffer any flood damage,” said a spokesperson.

The Montenotte Hotel on the middle Glanmire Road remains open for business, but also has had to close its pool and leisure facilities.

“We are bringing in water in tanks to keep services going,” explained general manager Gayle Whyte, who praised staff for their stoical approach to the situation.

“It is great to see the team looking out for each other. Everyone is just getting stuck in and making the best of it.”

Silver Springs Moran Hotel in Tivoli is operating relatively normally although they lost some bookings over last weekend.

“We are fully operational in the hotel, but the pool in the leisure centre is closed,” said Norina O’Callaghan, sales and marketing manager. “However, we have not been as badly affected as others and events planned for this week are all going ahead.”

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