Belfast Telegraph

Troubled top golf hotel loses general manager

By Margaret Canning

The general manager of the beleaguered Lough Erne Hotel and Golf Resort has resigned in a "problematic" development for the venue.

Hotels veteran Jonathan Stapleton, 57, quit his job this month after three years at the helm of the five star destination.

Castle Hume Leisure, the company behind the resort, was put into administration in May after lender Bank of Scotland (Ireland) called in debts of £26.4m.

Former owner Jim Treacy built the hotel, golf resort, spa and holiday homes at a lakeland site outside Enniskillen, where it opened in 2007.

It also features a Nick Faldo-designed golf course with US Open winner Rory McIlroy a touring professional.

Irish operator Tifco Ltd has been managing the hotel after they were appointed by administrators KPMG though Mr Stapleton had remained in his job.

A spokesman for KPMG said Mr Stapleton had resigned "to pursue other opportunities" and said they had started looking for his successor.

"There will be no interruption to business or to the quality or the standards at the resort being maintained during this period."

But hospitality expert John McKenna, the author of the Bridgestone Guide said: "It is important for them to have a respected figure running the show. The fact Mr Stapleton has left is going to make it difficult for them.

"Losing key staff from any destination when you are under pressure makes life very, very difficult. It's always problematic to lose a general manager."

Mr Stapleton was renowned for his attention to detail and in his four decades in hotels, had worked as general manager at Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort -amp; Spa in St Andrews and at Champneys Health Resort in St Andrews.

His ambition, he once said, was to make Lough Erne one of the world's leading resorts by 2012.

In the same interview he also said: "Trusting someone in business is not a wise thing. Be true always to yourself and trust your own instincts."

As well as its bank debts, around £3m is owed by Castle Hume Leisure to over 350 creditors. A recent report by KPMG said they would not get their money back, even if the venue is sold.

Mr Treacy has vowed to regain control of his creation. Receivers were also appointed by Bank of Scotland (Ireland) to a SuperValu store owned by Mr Treacy in Churchtown, south Dublin.