Belfast hotel boom benefits us too, says Corr's Corner owner as venue marks its centenary
The owner of one of Northern Ireland's most successful cross-border hotel groups has said that his business has benefited from Belfast's hotel boom because tour buses are availing of their larger car parks in less congested locations.
Eugene McKeever was speaking as his business, the McKeever Hotel Group, marked the centenary of one of the group's four hotels, Corr's Corner Hotel in Newtownabbey.
"You have to work to your advantages, and we have a USP for our Dunsilly Hotel and Dunadry Hotel and Gardens, where there is plenty of car parking space for tour buses, which they might not have in the city centre," said Mr McKeever.
"We get international tours from everywhere, including Japan, Germany and France. They find it is a great base to go further north and to go across to Donegal. They are well located."
He acknowledged his business in Letterkenny, Co Donegal - where the group operates Dillons Hotel - had felt an impact from the drop in sterling following Brexit uncertainty.
But he said he remains positive for the future.
"The problem with Brexit is the unknown, and we all know life is going to go on," said Mr McKeever.
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"I do know it's very challenging in the Letterkenny (hotel)at present, particularly with the exchange rate and people not coming from the north across the border as the pound has decreased in value and that's certainly had an impact."
Mr McKeever got involved with Corr's Corner Hotel in 1966 and took it over from its former owner John Corr in 1993.
He and his family have since expanded Corr's Corner into a 68-bedroom hotel.
The McKeever Group now also owns the Dunsilly Hotel, the Adair Arms Hotel in Ballymena, Dillons Hotel in Letterkenny and the Dunadry Hotel.
According to the group's latest accounts, turnover increased from £9.7m to £11.3m in 2018.
Gross profit was up from £7.19m in 2017 to £8.4m in 2018.
The business contributes £4.7m each year in salaries to the local economy.
The group employs over 300 people and has invested £23m in the hotel industry, including £5m in a major refurbishment and restoration of the four-star Dunadry Hotel and Gardens, which it bought in 2017.
Mr McKeever said that the leader of an international tour group who had recently stayed in the Dunadry commented that they had "never stayed in a hotel like it". He said that all the visitors were thanking him and saying it was amazing.
"We are hoping to build on that reputation in the future," added Mr McKeever.
The McKeever Group is marking 100 years of Corr's Corner Hotel with a special event on National Family Business Day on September 23.
The event will include a business breakfast with the Family Business Forum, run by Harbinson and Mulholland Accountants, and an interview with Mr McKeever on the importance of family in business and how to maintain it.
Mr McKeever said many successful local businesses are family-focused, and one of the keys to his success is the support of his wife and family, with two of his children, Bridgene and Eddie, involved in running the business.