Hotel sales resist despite the impact of Covid-19
Hotel sales have been resilient in 2021, with transactions in the first nine months of the year being exactly double what was achieved in all of 2020, and reports showing strong pent-up demand from investors for a busy end of the year.
The big rebound in 2021 was undoubtedly the sale of the Morrison Hotel in Dublin to London-based private equity firm Zetland Capital, for an amount that would exceed € 65million.
The 145-room boutique hotel on the Dublin Quays was owned by Russian billionaire investor Elena Baturina, who bought it from Nama in 2012 for 22 million euros. It was pulled from the market in 2020 as the state entered the first and most severe Covid-19 lockdown.
While the sale of The Morrison was a big vote of public confidence, it wasn’t the first; The 157-bed Moxy Dublin City hotel just off O’Connell Street was announced 10 days earlier for € 35million.
The Moxy was sold by the Midwest Holding group of the Spitzer family to MHL Hotel Collection, whose Irish properties also include The Westin, The Intercontinental and the Powerscourt Resort Hotel in Co Wicklow.
The hotel chain was formed in 2013 by its three partners: John Malone, an Irish-American billionaire who is a major investor in Liberty Global, owner of Virgin Media; and real estate developers Paul Higgins and John Lally.
Agreement of 70 million euros
In June, it was announced that Glenveagh Properties had sold the 262-room Premier Inn hotel in its Castleforbes development in Dublin docks to German firm Union Investment in a € 70 million deal. Glenveagh said the transaction was structured as part of a term finance agreement that would allow Union Investment to take ownership of the hotel.
The hotel will be operated by the British hotel group Whitbread under its Premier Inn brand, as previously announced by Glenveagh.
More recently, it was announced that Slieve Donard, a five-star hotel in Co Down, is to be acquired by US firm AJ Capital Partners in a deal valued at £ 40million (€ 47million) .
Alex Sheeran, senior analyst on the CBRE hospitality team, says it’s remarkable that foreign capital has been involved in so many sales. She said CBRE continues to see strong pent-up demand from international investors, “many of whom have taken the opportunity to travel and inspect opportunities since travel restrictions have eased.”
According to figures from CBRE, the hotel industry saw 12 major sales in Ireland in the first nine months of 2021, bringing total spending to over 330 million euros, exactly double the value of transactions on the Irish market over the whole of 2020. These figures do not include the deal with Slieve Donard, which will be included in CBRE’s fourth quarter statistics.
While the value of hotel sales in 2021 will not exceed that of before the 2019 pandemic, they will comfortably double more than last year, while 2022 promises to be busier again.
Ongoing hotel developments also remain solid. Earlier this month, An Bord Pleanála confirmed Dublin City Council’s decision to allow development of a four-story basement hotel along the narrow walkway connecting Temple Bar Square to the Ha ‘Bridge penny. This was the third time that Tom Doone, the owner of the nearby Merchant’s Arch pub, had sought to develop the site.
Plans for a new 54-room hotel in north Dublin city center were also approved by Dublin City Council, which granted planning permission for the eight-story development including a bar and restaurant on the rooftop on Meetinghouse Lane near Capel Street. The development is being offered by the real estate company Development Ocht, headed by businessman Pádraig Kehoe.
Also, Dublin could get another new hotel now that a site with full planning permission for a 244-room hotel has entered the market looking for 15 million euros in Freedoms in the heart of the city center from Dublin.
Located at Molyneux Yard in Dublin 8, the 0.12 hectare (0.29 acre) site sits between Temple Bar, St Stephen’s Green and St James’s Gate. The proposed development will include a contemporary eight-story basement hotel with a cafe, restaurant and bar.
“There is now great interest in Dublin 8,” said Ms Sheeran who noted that the district was nominated by Free time magazine as the 15th coolest neighborhood in the world to live in. She says there are major developments in the planning, particularly those by Guinness parent company Diageo to redevelop 12 acres of its complex at St James’s Gate.