Blarney gets Choice

Choice Hotels is planning a six-figure investment in the Blarney Golf Resort.

IRISH hotel operating group Choice Hotels have taken over management of the Blarney Golf Resort, which was snapped up this year by Northern Ireland-based investor Tommy O’Gorman for c€2.5m, after seeing a c€40 investment in its initial resort and hotel development.

The Cork-base hotel group, headed by Frankie Whelehan, said they would now invest a significant six-figure sum in upgrades at the 102-bed (including lodge rooms) Blarney hotel, which employs 70 and which started out as a Ramada hotel before hitting financial difficulties and going into receivership. “Blarney now has a good strong owner, and a good strong operator,” said Mr Whelehan who said they would build business back up at Blarney Golf Resort across a cross-section, from golf and conferences to weddings, family occasions, business and tourism.

Speaking for Choice Hotels, Andrew O’Neill said of the four-star Blarney Hotel & Golf Resort “it’s not often that a business fits perfectly into one’s network and offering what Blarney has for the Choice Hotel Group,” and predicted that the business would greatly benefit from the expertise on offer within the group.

Gareth Byrne, speaking for owner Tommy O’Gorman (who got the hotel, golf course, 168 acres and 38 lodges for his modest €2.5m outlay via Savills) said Choice was “the perfect partner for our investment and for creating a long term future for the hotel and resort.”

Choice Hotels, set up by Frankie Whelehan in 1998, is rebuilding itself after at one stage running 22 Irish hotels, and currently has six in its remit, five in Ireland with one in London, aiming to add three or four more during 2014.

The company also operates Carlton House in Kildare and recently the Gibson in Dublin, along with its Choice/Clarion Hotels in Cork and Limerick cities and at Dublin’s Liffey Valley, plus the Quality Hotels in Clonakilty and Youghal.

Choice is one of several competing Irish hotel operators, along with Tifco and Dalata who bring management and marketing expertise to hotel operations.

Last week, Lalco Hotel Group with investor John Malone of Liberty Global acquired their third Dublin hotel, taking over the five-star Westin on Westmoreland Street at the end of August.

The Malone/Lalco partnership includes Trinity City Hotel, on Pearse Street and the Hilton Hotel, Charlemont Place.


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