A billionaire American business tycoon has completed a cut-price deal for the luxurious Lough Erne Resort.
And the Enniskillen hotel’s award-winning golf course is likely to ensure the new owner is a regular visitor due to his family’s much-publicised love for the game.
The five-star hotel enjoyed global exposure last year when it hosted the G8 leaders, including US president Barack Obama and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
It was yesterday confirmed the resort had been sold to Lough Shore Road Ltd – a private hospitality company led by US-based investor Tralee Portfolio Management, an affiliate of the Saliba Family Office.
Chicago businessman Tony Saliba is a former market trader dubbed in those circles as the ‘Market Wizard’.
The price paid for the Lough Erne resort, which was placed into administration in 2011, was not revealed although it is understood to have been sold for less than £8m – a fraction of the original £30m asking price.
Administrators Stuart Irwin and John Hansen of KPMG said the deal would help safeguard the future of the resort.
“The purchasers have a long and successful track record in the hospitality sector in the United States and other markets,” they said. “The resort, now firmly established as one of the premier golfing destinations in western Europe, has been sold as a going concern following a competitive bidding process with interest from all over the world.
“We are delighted the new owners will now provide stability and continued valuable employment at the resort whilst they develop exciting future plans for Lough Erne.” Brian Lavery, managing director of selling agents CBRE in Belfast, added: “We are very happy with the process and all parties are happy with the final outcome.
“It was a competitive bidding situation in the end and everybody is pleased – this is a good result for the hotel and for Fermanagh.”
The Saliba family are believed to be avid golf fans, playing to semi-pro level, which may explain their interest in the Lough Erne Resort.
The resort received a huge boost last year after hosting the G8 summit. Fergal Purcell, then manager at Lough Erne who has since left, said after the event bookings increased three-fold.
Lough Erne Resort boasts a golf course designed by Sir Nick Faldo and includes a hotel with 120 rooms, two 18-hole golf courses, Thai spa, holiday homes and a golf academy on the 345-acre site. It was placed in administration in 2011 after Bank of Scotland was closed by Lloyds Banking Group, which then called in debts of £25m from developers Castle Hume Leisure. The resort has traded continually since. It won Irish Golf Tour Operators Golf Resort of the Year in 2010 and best hotel at the 36th Northern Ireland Tourism Awards this year.
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Caption: Summit setting: Lough Erne Resort hosted the G8 leaders in 2013