Belfast Telegraph

New Lough Erne resort owners keen to buy more hotels

By Staff Reporter

The new US owners of the five-star Lough Erne resort in Co Fermanagh are considering snapping up city hotels and other resorts in Ireland, it has been reported.

And part of their plan also involves pumping up to €9m (£6.4m) into revamping the former G8 Summit location.

The five-star hotel, which enjoyed global exposure when it hosted the summit, has been bought by Vine Avenue Advisors, headed by Michael Saliba along with TRU Hotels and Resorts, a hotel investment and management company founded by American hoteliers Jeff Mahan and Mark Ward. And it's set to change hands later this month.

"At present the biggest market is Northern Ireland ... the second is the Republic, and then the US and Europe is very minimal," Jeff Mahan told the Sunday Business Post.

And in regards to investment in Lough Erne, he said: "I would say several million dollars for sure, definitely an amount in the high single digits."

And the group said it is considering acquiring other businesses across Ireland.

"It absolutely would be our intention to acquire more in Ireland," he said.

The resort opened in 2007 amid much fanfare but was placed in administration in 2011.

And while it has traded well since it opened, the administrators were called in because of debts held by its owning company.

But its future now looks more secure after the breakthrough in the hunt for a new owner.

The 120-bedroom resort was thrust into the spotlight back in 2013, when it hosted the last G8 Summit.

While it was initially put on the market for £10m - just a third of its initial worth - it was reported it had been bought for between £5m and £6m. Lough Erne resort boasts a golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo. It includes a hotel with 120 rooms, two 18-hole golf courses, Thai spa, golf village holiday homes and a golf academy all set on the 345-acre site.

It was placed into administration in 2011 after Bank of Scotland was closed down by Lloyds Banking Group, which then called in debts of around £25m by developers Castle Hume Leisure.

Andrew Phelan, general manager of Lough Erne resort, said that "speaking on behalf of all the staff at Lough Erne resort" the deal to take over the course was "an exciting time for both the resort and the region".

Lough Erne played host to the G8 Summit, with leaders such as US president Barack Obama and German chancellor Angela Merkel among those attending.

Belfast Telegraph