Former De Vere chief executive and head of Richard Branson's Virgin Hotels, Paul Clark, is heading a new international hotel group with plans to acquire luxury hotels in the UK, Ireland and Europe.Palladian Hotels and Resorts has bought the 66-bedroom Sheen Falls Lodge in County Kerry, Ireland, for €5m (£4.36m) as its first property and plans to spend a further €1.5m (£1.3m) on its refurbishment.
Funding for the development of up to 12 resort-style hotels across Europe over the next seven years is being provided by a Guernsey-based fund, supported by a global group of high net worth individuals.
The intention is to acquire hotels with 50 to 120 bedrooms with spacious grounds.
"We intend to create a small group of iconic hotels by acquiring exceptional properties which have received little capital investment in recent years and where business is declined," said Clark.
"By improving the fabric of the assets, and using our sales, marketing and distribution experience to drive up occupancies, we will breathe life back into the businesses. "The hotels will have a very personal style of service and old-fashioned hospitality."
Clark is specifically looking for properties in southern Europe such as France, Spain (including Majorca) Italy and Greece, as well as the UK.
Built around a 17th century hunting lodge by Sheen Falls, Palladian's first hotel is built around a 17th century hunting lodge in 300 acres of grounds, by Sheen Falls above the Kenmare River. The entire resort, including a number of suites and holiday lodges, was developed in the late 1980s by Danish shipping magnate Bent Hoyer, and opened in 1991.
Clark said: "We have exciting plans for Sheen Falls Lodge. Tastes have changed over the last 20 years so we will be upgrading the bedrooms, spa and public areas. We will also be expanding the range of accommodation, food and leisure facilities which are currently available to our guests."
"Our intention is to return Sheen Falls Lodge to its former glory, whilst respecting the deep affection in which it is held by many loyal guests. Therefore we will ensure the refurbishments will be sensitive to the setting and the heritage of this beautiful building - preserving the best of the old, while introducing some new style - to appeal to our valued past guests and new guests alike."
Patrick Hanley, former group general manager for Amber Springs & Ashdown Park Hotels, Gorey, Co. Wexford, has been appointed general manager.