Dalata's two Northern Ireland hotels 'trading well' as work on a third progresses
Irish hotel group Dalata has said it has seen strong growth in room revenues in its Northern Ireland operations.
At the firm's annual general meeting, chairman John Hennessy said the properties here - the Clayton Hotel in Belfast city centre and the Maldron Hotel at Belfast International Airport - were trading well.
And he said the construction of its latest local hotel, the Maldron at Brunswick Street, was "progressing on target and within budget".
Due to open early next year, it is one of around 27 hotels planned for the city, and one of six under construction.
Dalata Group paired with Co Tyrone builder McAleer & Rushe for the project.
Mr Hennessy told the company's agm: "Following another year of significant growth in the size of our portfolio and earnings in 2016, trading performance in the first four months of 2017 has been marginally ahead of expectations.
"Revenue per available room (RevPAR) growth in our Dublin and regional Ireland properties has been in line with expectations.
"We have experienced strong RevPAR growth in our London and Northern Ireland portfolios.
"RevPAR growth in our provincial UK properties has been marginally ahead of expectations."
And he added: "The outlook remains positive for the markets in which we operate."
The company is developing around nine new hotels in the UK and Ireland, including the Belfast Maldron and one under the same brand name in Newcastle in England - another venture with McAleer & Rushe.
And construction of a 140-room extension to the Clayton Dublin Airport will start later this month.
Mr Hennessy said: "Investment in the Clayton and Maldron brands continues with a targeted capital refurbishment programme and brand awareness campaigns.
"We also continue to invest in the training and development of our people, as they are key to our continued growth and performance.
"The year 2017 will see further investment in information technology to deliver ongoing improvements in internal controls, the quality of management information and process efficiencies."
He said the company was looking at buying the freehold of some of its existing hotels outright.
And it was hoping to expand the reach of its Clayton and Maldron brands in the UK.
It rebranded the former Holiday Inn on Ormeau Avenue as the Clayton Hotel two years ago after buying it from the former owner in an £18.5m deal - one of the city's biggest hotel transactions.
Mr Hennessy also defended pay and incentive increases for Dalata bosses, including chief executive Pat McCann.
He insisted that Dalata executives were being paid less than other executives of similarly-sized businesses in the sector, despite their pay hikes.
Still, 26% of shares cast at the AGM were opposed to approving the company's remuneration report.
Mr Hennessy said the company was "concerned" that such an amount of votes were opposed to the resolution.