Dublin’s newest hotel, the 393-room Travelodge Plus in the city center, is said to have been leased exclusively by the state to house people seeking asylum in Ireland.
The Townsend Street property near the quays, which cost £100million to build and is the second-largest hotel in the city centre, was due to open to the public for the first time in January. Its owner, the Tifco hotel group, is believed to have recently signed an agreement with the International Protection Accommodation Service (Ipas) division of the Department of Children, which is responsible for the accommodation of people seeking refuge in Ireland.
Tifco declined to comment on the deal last night, as the department made no response before posting a request for comment.
Tifco was again publicly touting the impending opening of the Travelodge Plus shortly before Christmas. However, potential guests who contact the hotel to inquire about reservations are told by staff members that it is currently not open to the public as it has been booked by a major client.
The new hotel is listed as unavailable on all major hotel booking platforms such as Booking. com, although it appears possible to book rooms at the hotel from June, suggesting that the agreement to operate exclusively as a center for asylum seekers could be of limited duration.
The deal is the second major transaction in the Dublin hotel market in recent weeks by Ipas. The new 421-room Holiday Inn at Dublin Airport, which opened last July, has closed to the public and is operating as a center for asylum seekers for at least the next year.
Relaxation of travel rules
Ipas is said to have hired agents to find new sources of accommodation in the private sector to relieve some of the pressure on the direct provision system, following a spike of 3,300 new asylum seekers arriving in Ireland since October, when pandemic travel rules eased internationally.
Ipas would be extremely active in the hotel market. It is believed to be offering some hoteliers deals of around €100 per room per night to house asylum seekers. Sources said some hotels have signed agreements guaranteeing 100% occupancy at these rates.
Tifco, which is owned by US private equity group Apollo, could expect to be paid nearly 1.2 million euros per month by the state for the exclusive use of the new Travelodge Plus at these rates.
The State has accommodation contracts for asylum seekers with around forty different hotels. It recently closed a tender for a panel of new accommodation providers, including hotels for singles and couples and ‘home-based’ facilities for families. She estimated that the value of the tender could be 500 million euros over the next 34 months, when the direct supply system should be overhauled.
The Tifco Hotel Group owns or operates approximately 25 hotels in the Irish market, 11 of which are under the Travelodge franchise.