events

Brexit concerns could hold up funding for hotel projects in city centre, warns Dalata

Brexit Concerns Could Hold Up Funding For Hotel Projects In City Centre, Warns Dalata

Brexit Concerns Could Hold Up Funding For Hotel Projects In City Centre, Warns Dalata

An artist’s impression of the new Brunswick Street hotel

Irish hotel group Dalata, which has two hotels in Belfast, has said concerns around Brexit are likely to impact on funding for the planned pipeline of new venues in the city. Dalata, which is building a new hotel at Brunswick Street in the city centre, already owns the Maldron at Belfast International Airport and the Clayton Hotel on Ormeau Avenue.

  • Share
  • Go To

The company yesterday announced revenue had soared by 33% in the first half of the year to ‘ 130.1m ( 109m). But it said revenue per available room in the Northern Ireland hotels fell by 11.2% on a like-for-like basis to 55.10.

The company said its Clayton Hotel – formerly the Discount Holidays © Holiday Inn – had benefited from significant revenue during 2015 from business generated in the city which was not repeated in 2016. And while Brexit has had no impact so far on the company, it said the vote to leave the EU could impact on funding for its planned pipeline of new hotels. The company, which has recently entered exclusive discussion to acquire the operating interest at the former Burlington Hotel in Dublin, also announced it had purchased the freehold interest of the Maldron Hotel in Cork for ‘ 8.1m ( 6.7m).

Elsewhere, earnings at the company rose by 50% to ‘ 34.3m ( 29m) during the period excluding the likes of acquisitions costs and revaluation gains and losses. The firm benefited from a net upward property revaluation of ‘ 41.5m ( 34.7m) and started the construction of two hotels in Dublin – one in Cork, as well as one in Belfast – with all four set to open in 2018. It confirmed that it had exchanged contracts to buy the development site in a deal worth 21m with McAleer and Rushe, with the deal completing on August 5.

In its UK operations, which include a total of eight hotels, occupancy was down to 78% from 79.3%. Dalata also outlined the potential threats from Brexit including a weak sterling potentially deterring UK visitors. But chief executive Pat McCann said it had been a very busy start to the year for the firm.

“Trade has been ahead of our expectations with the Irish hotel market performing exceptionally well in the period,” Mr McCann explained.

“We have continued our acquisition and development programme as well as further developing the Clayton and Maldron brands in the UK and Ireland.”

Belfast Telegraph

Spa Spy: Hotel Park, Split, Croatia

Our sleuth investigates the curative claims of wellbeing retreats worldwide. This week: the newly renovated Hotel Park, first built in 1921 on the shores of the Adriatic in Split, Croatia

The 72-room Hotel Park1 is the only hotel in Split’s residential Ba vice neighbourhood, two minutes walk from the popular Ba vice beach and 10 minutes from the city’s old town with its Roman palace and labyrinth of narrow streets. It was completely renovated in a 10 million euro refurbishment in 2015 and is now an elegant modern hotel with a large terrace and pool looking down towards the sea and the islands of Bra and olta.

The spa

The Park’s Priska Spa is open to guests and visitors from outside the hotel. As well as three private treatment rooms there is a ‘salt room’ for relaxation, three manicure stations and a wide variety of massages and beauty treatments offered.

Spa Spy: Hotel Park, Split, Croatia The view from the top of the Park

The treatment

Spy asks for the most relaxing treatment possible and is recommended the ‘Tranquility Aromatic Beauty Ritual’, which lasts for 75 minutes (700 kn/92 euros/ 76) and is, the spa manager says, a soothing massage with floral oils. It sounds more up Spy’s street than the ‘Oriental Ceremony’, which starts with a ‘spicy exfoliation’ and is apparently more suited to those with very stiff muscles.

The procedure

Spy starts her spa tour by checking herself into the salt room, a small, windowless space where the walls are covered in salt crystals. Spy reclines on a very comfortable lounger for 15 minutes, hoping to experience the positive effects of halotherapy, which is supposed to be good for the lungs and circulation.

Spa Spy: Hotel Park, Split, Croatia The salt room at the Park Hotel spa

Waiting for her massage, Spy admires the framed pictures of the hotel in the Thirties and almost drifts off to the sound of crickets singing a soporific chant outside. The massage itself is nothing extraordinary but it is truly relaxing: Spy’s whole body is gently smoothed with oil and delicious smelling creams are worked into her face in a most delightful way.

The feel-good factor

Spa Spy: Hotel Park, Split, Croatia Dine under the stars

There’s a focus on business customers at the Park, which has a conference hall, several meeting rooms and offers single ‘business rooms’ with views of the city, rather than the sea. However the temptations of the sumptuous sunbeds outside are myriad: cooling towels are brought round at frequent intervals; an outside bar serves delicious cocktails and snacks; a DJ plays laid-back house music from early evening and – best of all – the sunbeds afford a calm perspective over the pool, far removed from the packed and noisy beach and sea beyond.

Spa Spy: Hotel Park, Split, Croatia The Park’s bar

The Park’s rooms are also extremely comfortable, with all the amenities expected of a luxury hotel including a ‘pillow menu’, wifi and excellent room service. Unusually, they are also ‘pet-friendly’.

The verdict

Inside the hotel, Spy feels at all times well-fed, relaxed and well cared for.

It’s a welcome retreat from the busy streets and beaches of Split at the height of summer season, and well worth paying for.

Spa Spy: Hotel Park, Split, Croatia The reception area

Details

The Park Hotel is a 30 minute drive from Split airport.

Prices vary according to season but expect prices of around 196 euros/night for a single room; 276 euros for a double standard; 600 for a sea-facing junior suite. hotelpark-split.hr2

References

  1. ^ Hotel Park (www.hotelpark-split.hr)
  2. ^ hotelpark-split.hr (hotelpark-split.hr)

Restuarant review: Belfast Merchant Hotel’s The Great Room

Restuarant Review: Belfast Merchant Hotel's The Great Room

Restuarant Review: Belfast Merchant Hotel's The Great Room

You can never have too many cherubs, lyres or gold leaf when you re building a palace. The former Ulster Bank HQ became Belfast s best hotel ten years ago You can never have too many cherubs, lyres or gold leaf when you re building a palace.

The former Ulster Bank HQ became Belfast s best hotel ten years ago

The Merchant Hotel is a monument to the commercial realisation of the Good Friday Agreement peace dividend.

Ten years old, the hotel occupies the former palatial head quarters of the Ulster Bank in Waring Street. Back then, the long awaited post-Troubles peace dividend had yet to materialise but other economic factors, namely the property boom, were making Belfast more prosperous. In fact, Belfast was re-emerging as a bit of a powerhouse and the Merchant’s 400-plus a night room rate and the arrival of celebrity guests (Meryl Streep stayed over a couple of nights to help raise funds for the MAC) made it irresistible, if also inaccessible, to many of us.

  • Share
  • Go To

The hotel’s exuberance of style and architecture, straight from the early Victorian period and Belfast’s industrial heyday, a time when the city would have been talked about in the same admiring tones as we talk now of Dubai, San Francisco and Shanghai, has been further enhanced by the addition of lyre-playing cherubs and various symbols of hedonism to add some fun to the d cor. You can never have enough gold embossed plasterwork, chandeliers or impossibly high ceilings held up by giant marble pillars when you’re creating a palace. And taking prime position in this explosion of visual luxury is the restaurant. Known as the Great Room, the restaurant sits beneath this jaw dropping pomp and splendour in what must have been the former main lobby area of the bank. The advisor remembers walking through the imposing space, her heels echoing along the marble floor to the tellers at the back.

I am an admiring fan of owners Bill and Petra Wolsey. Their marketing genius combined with an innate sense for what is on trend in the drinks business makes their bars and restaurants successful. But I never liked the Great Room. Even when it opened the design of the dining room clashed with the Victoriana in a way that made it visually discomfiting. It was weirdly post Edwardian, a kind of vision of plush Savoy opulence seen through the pages of a dated old magazine in a dentist’s waiting room. But the food was good and the service flawless. It was a special occasion kind of place and prices were not prohibitive.

It reintroduced the concept of eating in hotels just at a time when hotel restaurants were being punished for being generally rotten. Ten years is a long time as a restaurant and now the plush velvet upholstered furniture is worn and shiny dark patches mark the areas of human contact. But the food is still good and the service as slick. A visit last week revealed just how good the Great Room is with a display of culinary fireworks that covered all the bases. A summer garden soup with buttered lettuce and peas was surprisingly not like a gazpacho.

Summer in Ulster is not what it is in Andalucia and our seasonal soup clearly accounted for this. It was an excellent, thick yet light pea-based potage in which the lettuce, wilted in the soup’s heat, provided the last of those summer greens flavours. It was a knockout. The advisor’s dressed white Kilkeel crab came with tomato and toasted sourdough melba and she compared it very favourably to Niall McKenna’s. Turbot for her main came with a shellfish ravioli which was just slightly on the chewy side but otherwise packed with ocean flavours and textures, the shining white block of turbot, flaking under the fork and providing mouthfuls of sweet, briny tastes.

The Iberico pork fillet appeared as pre-cut, fork-sized cubes and triangles matching similarly portioned artichoke and smoked paprika fondants. This was a little Basque festival invoking all those smells and tastes of the region. A lemon tart and some cheeses finished the night off happily. The Great Room should work well for the expense account lunches, particularly as the privacy of each table is assured thanks to the generous space between them. But it’s time for a refurb if the next 10 years are to see a good kick start.

After all, the restaurant is competing with some of the best in Ireland within a few hundred yards.

And because it’s the best hotel in Northern Ireland, there is some expectation that it has a restaurant to match.

The bill

Soup …………………………………………

6.50

Crab ………………………………………..

10.25

Turbot …………………………………….

22.50

Pork ………………………………………..

22.50

Carrots ……………………………………..

4.50

Cauliflower ………………………………

4.50

Bottle Grappin ………………………..

42.50

River Rock x 2 …………………………..

9.90

Lemon tart ……………………………….

8.50

Cheese ……………………………………

10.50

Glass Moscatel …………………………

3.95

Glass Barsac ……………………………..

5.95

Total ……………………………………..

152.05

1 2 3 115