Transactions build in Ireland

Supported by a strong economic outlook, Ireland's hotel sector is set for a period of steady growth, as developers and international brands focus on building new properties in the capital Dublin, and regional city of Cork

Ireland’s hotel market is enjoying a positive outlook, with economic conditions favouring continued strong leisure spending in the country.

Employment in the country is at an all-time high, report agents Cushman & Wakefield, and average earnings grew 4.6% year on year in 2023. International visitor numbers are reckoned to have increased ahead of pre-pandemic levels, towards the end of 2023, while forecasts from Oxford Economics suggest a 5% growth in international visits for 2024, and a further 7% rise in 2025.

Those numbers fed through to a modest rise in revpar and occupancy levels at Irish hotels in the second half of 2023, with travellers seeming unworried by the restoration of the 13.5% VAT levy reintroduced in September.

Deal volume building

Cushman & Wakefield registered EUR307m of hotel transactions in 2023, and expect the volume to pick up in 2024. Notable deals included the EUR28m sale of Telephone House, and a EUR50m deal that saw the MHL Collection acquire Brooks Hotel. Investor JMK Group will convert the Telephone House office block into a 290 room aparthotel, set to open in 2025 as a Home2Suites, the first time Hilton’s extended stay brand has appeared in western Europe. Also traded were the Crowne Plaza in Dundalk, the Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort, and the Park Hotel Kenmare.

In 2023, the Dublin city market saw 1,400 new hotel rooms open, with launches from Premier Inn, easyHotel, Motel One and Clink Hostels. A similar number will be introduced in 2024, including the 55 room The Leinster; Ruby Molly Dublin, with 273 rooms, opening in Dublin 7, and the 247 room CitizenM.

One major slice of Irish hotel assets no longer for sale is the Tifco portfolio, owned by investment group Apollo Global. It includes 11 Travelodges, the Hard Rock Hotel in Dublin, Crowne Plazas at Blanchardstown and Dublin Airport, the Arthaus Hotel Dublin, and the Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport. After failing to generate bids high enough for the hotels, said to be worth up to EUR500m, Apollo has pulled the sale and instead refinanced debt against the properties.

Regional revival

Researchers say there are 18 hotel construction sites outside Dublin, currently in the build process and likely to be completed in 2024. These will include a new hotel at Goffs, Kildare, And in Cork, Premier Inn will follow its January 2024 opening of a 187 room hotel with a second property as Whitbread makes progress in expanding its presence across Ireland. In February 2024, it purchased a site in Cork’s Victorian quarter, where it plans to redevelop an entertainment centre into a 168 room hotel, once approvals are granted.

Also coming to Cork, and expected to open in summer 2024, is a new 153 room hotel featuring Marriott’s Moxy brand. The development by JMK Group will also feature 41 long stay suites, branded under Marriott’s Residence Inn brand.