Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney. A morning view from  bedroom

Jim Murphy, CEO of Irish based international hospitality giant PREM Group has called for an immediate review of the reopening dates for hotels.  Under the current COVID- 19 government roadmap hotels are not due to open until the 20th of July, which Murphy says will be far too late for hotels to try and salvage what will be left of the summer season. 

“There is no doubt that the government, the Chief Medical Office and the Irish public have done tremendous work in tackling and suppressing the coronavirus.   It is now, however time to urgently deal with the detrimental economic consequences that this virus has left in its wake.  Under the current roadmap restaurants can open for diners and guests at the end of June, this includes restaurants in hotels. However, those same diners can’t then stay at the very hotel in which they have dined. This seems ludicrous, if someone can go out and eat in a space where there are other people around them then it’s reasonable to think that it’s even safer for that same guest to move to their own, private hotel room after they have dined?  We would urgently call on the government to bring forward the planned reopening date for hotels, however if this were to happen the 20km travel restriction would also have to be lifted.  The travel restriction and the reopening date cannot be reviewed in isolation and must be addressed immediately in order to tackle a potential catastrophic crisis which the tourism and hospitality industry is facing.”

PREM Group was established in 1996 and is an international hospitality business operating in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Continental Europe. It owns and operates 38 properties and has 2,990 bedrooms across the various properties which include aparthotels operated under the PREMIER SUITES brand, business and leisure hotels, golf resorts and country house properties.  Hotels in Ireland which are owned by PREM Group include Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort, Wicklow, Osprey Hotel, Naas, Cahernane House Hotel, Killarney and The Hoban Hotel, Kilkenny.   The group has 1,046 people under direct report, 83% of these employees have now been laid off.

“We have great staff and a team of people who manage and run our hotels and properties as well as our business supports divisions which include our hospitality management division PREM Hospitality, RateWise, Sprint Digital, Trinity Hotel Groups, Rewards From Us To You, and our Premier Business Centres. All of these people are keen to get back to work, indeed the hospitality industry as a whole is very keen to get people back to work.  Hospitality staff are the backbone of our economy and are particularly important in rural areas which are dependent on tourism. There are now over 260,000 hospitality workers laid off in this country.  If the government do not take decisive, clear, and immediate action many small hotels and hospitality outlets may never trade again. There is also too much confusion and debate around the 1 metre versus 2 metre distance rule and too much uncertainty around VAT, business supports and the continuation of the job subsidy scheme.”
View from the dining room at Tulfarris Hotel & Golf Resort

Murphy believes that the government must listen to hospitality groups such as the IHF and IBEC who have been urgently calling for various measures to be put in place such as the removal of quarantine restrictions and the replacement of the 2 metre social distancing measure to 1 metres.

From a practical point of view the hospitality industry needs urgent support,” he said, “liquidity measures and business grants must be put in place to help tourism businesses to survive.  There are huge extra costs now associated with doing business in a COVID- 19 or post pandemic world, there is more training required for staff, strict and comprehensive cleaning and sterilizing and greatly reduced capacity for guests. We have to operate with more costs and fewer guests.”

“Our many hotel and hospitality colleagues have constantly asked for the reduction in tourism VAT.   This is so important and would secure the viability of Irish tourism into the future. ‘When we travel again’ is a hashtag that has been used a lot by many tourism outlets, but don’t forget that when our international visitors travel again Ireland must be seen as good value, we must be able to compete against popular tourism destinations abroad.” He also added that the job subsidy scheme for tourism and hospitality should be continued and that local authority rates and charges should be abolished for at least 12 months to allow businesses to get back up and running again.

He went on to say, “We have several properties which we own or operate right across Europe, our Belgian properties can open on the 8th of June and on the 1st of July we will open our flagship PREMIER SUITES PLUS property in Amsterdam.   If we can do business in Continental Europe then why not here?  We are falling way behind our European counterparts and our economy is suffering as a result. We are already providing accommodation for frontline and essential workers at several of our Irish hotels where we have strict COVID-19 protocols in place for months, why not apply the same procedures now for guests?  Our team and staff have been trained in our new procedures which include actions such as contactless check in at reception, extra deep cleaning of rooms and public spaces, social distancing and best practice at our spas and health centres. Ireland is way behind now, other countries are jumping ahead, and we are in real danger of losing the season.” 

The new PREMIER SUITES PLUS property in Amsterdam includes 88 luxurious one-bedroom units, 26 two-bedroom apartments and 1 three-bedroom apartment. The units have been designed with the medium to long stay business traveller in mind and are furnished with a fully equipped kitchen with combi-oven, microwave, hob, fridge, freezer, washing/dryer machine and coffee machine. There is also include a modern living area with a flat screen TV and luxury hotel bed from the Seventh Heaven range. Bathrooms are equipped with a power-shower and luxurious toiletries are provided. A housekeeping service is also being offered to residents once a week while a reception team is available 24/7.

PREM Group has extensive experience in the aparthotel space and the Amsterdam property is the group’s second serviced aparthotel property to open in Holland under the PREMIER SUITES PLUS brand having opened in Rotterdam in 2017.  PREMIER SUITES PLUS Amsterdam is PREM Group’s 16th aparthotel product and is now its flagship property due to its luxurious finish, fit out and prime location.

“If decisive, clear and immediate measures are not put in place for the hospitality and tourism industry here in Ireland it will take years for it to recover,” said Murphy.  “The Irish government must now take urgent action and allow hotels to open now or at the very latest at the end of June, not in July or it will be too late in the season and may do irreversible damage to an already fragile hospitality industry.”
press release