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Lough Erne Resort swings back into action with crucial bank loan

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Support: From left, Paul McClurg, Bank of Ireland, with Jeff Mahan and Mark Ward of TRU Hotels & Resorts, the US management company behind Lough Erne Resort. Credit: Andrew Paton

Support: From left, Paul McClurg, Bank of Ireland, with Jeff Mahan and Mark Ward of TRU Hotels & Resorts, the US management company behind Lough Erne Resort. Credit: Andrew Paton

Support: From left, Paul McClurg, Bank of Ireland, with Jeff Mahan and Mark Ward of TRU Hotels & Resorts, the US management company behind Lough Erne Resort. Credit: Andrew Paton

Luxury venue the Lough Erne Resort has said its wedding bookings have almost filled up for next year as it readjusts to business following lockdown.

The five-star venue said its booking levels were “exceptionally strong” and that it faced a record summer this year.

It secured a government-backed funding through Bank of Ireland and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILs) to help fund it during lockdowns, and to assist with reopening.

Northern Irish businesses have borrowed more than £2bn under CBILs and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BLS), the two biggest UK Government-backed Covid-19 loan schemes.

The schemes closed to new applications at the end of March.

The CBILS and BBLS gave the lender a full Government-backed guarantee against the outstanding balance. The borrower always remains fully liable for the debt.

Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh is operated by US management company TRU Hotels & Resorts.

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TRU co-founder Mark Ward said the support from Bank of Ireland had been crucial and that business was strong.

“As we stand, we are enjoying exceptionally strong booking levels. In fact, we could be set for a record summer ’21.

“Our weddings’ team has been inundated with enquiries and has been working closely with couples to find suitable dates for weddings that had to be postponed due to lockdown.

“At this stage we have only a select number of midweek dates remaining until spring 2022.

“Membership of the resort’s two golf clubs have also grown as more people turn to golf as a means of enjoying the outdoors whilst staying fit and healthy.”

Lough Erne Resort said the Bank of Ireland loan had helped fund the cost of closing the resort including staff retention and maintaining its golf courses and health spa.

It also helped in preparations for the reopening of the venue.

Paul McClurg, head of business banking, Belfast for Bank of Ireland UK, said: “Businesses, particularly in the leisure and tourism sector are still working through the impact that Covid-19.

“We are delighted at Bank of Ireland UK to have played our part in supporting the Lough Erne Resort, one of Northern Ireland’s most famous and preeminent destinations that attracts guests both locally and globally and which is very important to the wider local economy.”

Mr Ward said the CBILs loan had made it possible to focus on the refurbishment of guestrooms and public areas, and other upgrades to the resort.

Jeff Mahan added: “Each year we contribute more than £6m into the local economy by way of wages and the support of local suppliers and that’s something our entire team is genuinely proud of.”

The resort has invested in new attractions such as outdoor activities provided by a company in the area. Activities include a sunset waterbike safari, a bike tour of Lough Erne’s biodiversity, and the starlight waterbike trail.

Across the UK, more than 1.6 million small businesses have borrowed around £70bn from emergency loan schemes.

It has left businesses with billions of pounds in loans that they should pay off over the next decade, spreading the shock of Covid-19 across the period.

The National Audit Office last year revealed estimates that between 35% and 60% of borrowers might default on their loans.


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