Fota Island Resort is a cut above the rest

AFTER a number of low-key and low-profile but significant viewings, the 500-acre Fota Island Resort finally gets its formal market launch this week.

Its price guide is €20m to €25m, a sharp reduction on the c €90m invested to date in the world-class resort complex. It’s currently turning over about €10m pa, and is trading profitably, according to joint selling agents Colliers International and Cohalan Downing who bill it a ‘jewel,’ and ‘a trophy buy.’

They’re endeavouring to separate and highlight the quality of this rare estate and business offering from the sales of other Irish hotels and resorts: key to its future is the quality of the offering, on exceptional and large island grounds, on the edge of Cork city, close to the airport, harbour, tourism draws like Cobh and Midleton, and several business parks and Little Island’s large employment base.

Developed by Fleming Construction after they took over full ownership from Dr Tim O’Mahony’s Killeen investments, Fota Island Resort includes the 2006-built 131 bed hotel, function rooms, and top-class leisure facilities, a 27-hole championship golf course and academy which has twice hosted the Irish Open, as well as 59 holiday lodges which are let via the hotel. Some 61 other lodges have already been sold to private investors, out of a planning grant of 281 units in all.

There’s planning in place for 168 more houses, which — if subject to the kindness of county planners — may bring further future value. At present, planning restrictions limit the houses’s uses to tourism/rentals, and they can’t be used as full-time private homes. If this restriction were ever lifted, there’d be significant added value for the overall Fota scheme.

The resort is being offered in up to three lots: 1, the entire, 2, hotel, spa and golf courses and, 3, the 59 lodges. While no breakdown in values is given, it’s likely each — hotel, golf course and houses — is seen as having a value of around €8m each. However, the real value and strength is in maintaining the three strands under the one umbrella.

The hotel is on 4.6 hectares within the resort (it takes up about 500 of the original Smith-Barry family Fota estate’s 700 island acres, the balance includes the Fota Wildlife Park, historic house and gardens,) and includes 131 bedrooms, restaurants, bars, spa, hydrotherapy and leisure centre, meeting rooms, pre-function room and back of house facilities. The golf club has further catering facilities, while the neighbouring Fota Wildlife Park ranks among the country’s Top 10 visitor attractions, with 390,000 visitors last year.

Joint agents are Maurice Cohalan of Cohalan Downing and Marcus Magnier of Colliers International, who says the sale “is an extremely high profile instruction, and is already attracting a good deal of domestic and international interest.”

“Fota stands out not just for its pedigree but as it is a well-run trading entity, turning in a healthy profit. We will be marketing the property internationally and are encouraged by initial expressions of interest from major Irish and overseas hotel operators,” they say, adding “it is one of the most important and well known resort properties to be offered, and will represent a true test of the strength of the quality hotel and leisure market.”

Details: Cohalan Downing, 021-4277717; Colliers International, 01-6333700

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