Jurys Inn owner sees full hotel recovery taking two years

Jurys Inn boss Jason Carruthers doesn’t expect to see a full recovery in occupancy rates for the hotel chain for another two years despite plans to reopen next month.

However, he said some level of recovery should be evident by the end of this year and expansion is being planned for the Irish market.

Mr Carruthers said Jurys Inn expects to reopen its five hotels in Ireland on July 20, in line with the current government guidelines, but said the chain hopes to – and is prepared to - open sooner if possible.

Jurys Inn is jointly owned by international hotel group Fattal and hotel investor Pandox and forms part of Fattal’s Leonardo Hotel Group subsidiary. Its 44 UK hotels – across both the Jurys Inn and Leonardo brands – will open on a phased basis starting on July 4.

Mr Carruthers was speaking on the back of Jurys Inn publishing its new customer guidelines – which include more emphasis on room service meals and online check-in/out services, less lift usage, and the now normal social distancing and hygiene policies.

Jurys Inn usually runs at 90% occupancy levels at a minimum. However, upon reopening, occupancy rates will be around 30% before potentially increasing to around 70% by the end of the year. Mr Carruthers said the brand traditionally sees a large element of domestic leisure customers and expects to benefit from an increase in domestic holiday use this year. He also anticipates a return of business/corporate customer use by September.

However, he said a period of “levelling out” and a prolonged period of recovery is probable, with pre-Covid occupancy rates of 90%+ not likely to be seen until 2022.

“There’s no reason to believe we won’t see a recovery as most people want and need to get back to normal,” he said.

Although Jurys Inn has a presence in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast, the business is still considering expansion of the brand here. Furthermore, it plans to open its first Leonardo hotel – under the Nyx label – in the Portobello area of Dublin.

Calls for an earlier-than-planned reopening of hotels is growing. Irish aparthotel operator Prem Group has said the dates need to be immediately reviewed.

CEO Jim Murphy said July 20 would be “far too late” for hotels and accommodation providers to salvage something from this year’s summer holiday season.

As well as Ireland, Prem Group operates in the UK and across mainland Europe. It can reopen in Belgium next week and in the Netherlands at the beginning of next month.

“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,” Mr Murphy said.

“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.

“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,” he said.