If the way to ruin a walk is by chucking a game of golf into the mix, then the way to ruin a hotel industry may well be to throw in too many golf resorts. Certainly the only winner in the former Celtic Tiger economy of Ireland is the eager golfer, who is now assured a favourable room rate wherever he chooses to lay his clubs.
Paul Collins, executive director, CBRE Hotels Ireland, has forecast that more than 100 Irish hotels and 50 overseas properties could find themselves in NAMA, the country's toxic loan agency, a legacy of ego-driven developers completing their portfolio of yachts and helicopters with a luxury hotel project.
At its peak in 2007 the market saw room numbers increase by 17.9% year-on-year, with a total increase in room capacity of 51% from 2000 to 2010, close to half of it in the four and five star categories.
Collins said that the combination of egos, recession, excessive capital allowances from the Irish government and an "endless supply of capital from banks and virtually no rigorous viability and demand studies" meant an over-supplied market, where rate in 2009 was Eu77.81, on occupancy of 59.4%.
Collins put debt in the sector at Eu6.4bn, or Eu106,404 per bedroom, with over 40 hotels – of 7% of the room stock – now in receivership.
To rebuild the sector to a level where more than just visiting golfers could benefit, Collins called for uneconomic hotels to be closed down and sold at "knock down prices", removing in the process developer operators lacking in the necessary hotel experience. He also looked to the government to invest in promoting Ireland as a tourist destination – one attraction being its plentiful supply of new, high-end room stock.