Breaking news this evening that the 5-star Ashford Hotel in Cong, Mayo (the website appears to be down this evening) has been placed into receivership; both RTE and TV3 report that Luke Charleton and David Hughes of Ernst and Young have been appointed as receivers.
The hotel is understood to be still controlled by NAMA Top 10 developer, Gerry Barrett. Accounts for the hotel’s holding company, Ashford Castle Estate Limited, for 2008 and 2009 showed a loss of €39m for the two years, of which €35m related to a writedown in assets, mainly the hotel itself. The company was controlled by Gerry Barrett and his wife Catherine.
The receivers are keen to emphasise that the hotel is trading as normal, an important consideration ahead of the traditionally lucrative Christmas season. Deposits already paid will be fully honoured according to the receivers, there will be no job losses – it is understood the hotel employs nearly 150 people – and “suppliers will be retained”; no word on what happens with unsecured debts owing to suppliers however.
It is not clear if the receivership is at the behest of NAMA, and NAMA has not yet commented on the reports. Gerry Barrett is associated with a slew of hotels in Ireland including the “D Hotel” in Drogheda, the Meyrick and “G Hotel” in Galway, the Grand Canal Dock hotel in Dublin and Jury’s Hotel in Limerick. Last month, the Irish Times reported that NAMA was set to agree the sale of Dublin’s Hatch Hall development, the sale was being handled by agents Douglas Newman Good Commercial on behalf of Gerry Barrett and his main vehicle Edward Holdings.
UPDATE: 29th November, 2011. NAMA has responded to say that this receivership is not at its behest. There are some 80 hotels out of over 900 in the State which are subject to NAMA loans, and NAMA has taken foreclosure action on only a fraction of these 80. It is understood that Bank of Scotland (Ireland) was the biggest lender to the Irish hotel sector, but that doesn’t stop the routine confusion over any Irish hotel in receivership being assumed to be in NAMA, for example the Parknasilla Hotel in Kerry associated with NAMA Top 10 developer Bernard McNamara is also NOT in NAMA, though that seems to be routinely ignored by the media.