One of Dublin’s newest and largest hotels, the 421-room Holiday Inn at Dublin Airport, has closed to the general public after less than seven months in operation. It is understood that the 50 million euro hotel is lined up by the state to operate as an accommodation center for asylum seekers.
The four-star property was only opened last July by one of the most active investors recently in the Irish market, British group JMK, founded by Pakistani-Irish businessman Jalaluddin Kajani, also known as John Kajani. JMK owns four Irish hotels and is building several more.
JMK’s Holiday Inn at Dublin Airport (not to be confused with the Tifco Group’s Holiday Inn Express at Dublin Airport) was originally scheduled to begin commercial operations in the first quarter of 2020, but its opening has been delayed by the pandemic, which has upended the travel and hospitality industries.
Carra Shore, the JMK-linked company that developed it, suggested in a memo to its accounts in 2020 that the “future viability” of the new hotel could be affected by the outcome of the pandemic and public health restrictions.
JMK is said to have secured more than €42m in funds for the construction of the Holiday Inn at Dublin Airport by refinancing one of its other Irish properties, the Holiday Inn Express on O’Connell Street, which Mr Kajani has built after buying a former Eircom building in 2013.
When the airport hotel opened seven months ago, Mr Kajani said it was a “wonderful achievement in light of the ongoing pandemic”. But now IHG Hotels, the global company that licenses the Holiday Inn brand, carries a note on its website to say the property “remains closed for guest stays.”
Users of IHG’s global booking engine, which should have generated most of the new property’s business, are unable to book hotel accommodation at any time over the next year. It is the fourth largest hotel in Dublin, after Citywest and the Clayton hotels on Burlington Road and at the airport.
JMK did not respond to multiple requests for a spokesperson to discuss the future of its Holiday Inn hotel at Dublin Airport as an accommodation center for asylum seekers. Prospective guests who have called the hotel directly recently to book rooms have been told that it “no longer operates as a hotel due to an exclusive contract”.
In response to detailed questions about the new asylum center near Dublin Airport, the International Protection Accommodation Service (IPAS), the Department of Children’s office which accommodates asylum seekers, said that he was “not in a position to comment on ongoing contract discussions”. who are at stake”.
He did, however, confirm that he was making deals to house asylum seekers due to an increase in requests since the pandemic subsided. He said 3,300 new arrivals have arrived in Ireland since October, putting pressure on the National Reception Center (NRC) in Balseskin, near Finglas, north Dublin. IPAS already has six accommodation contracts with hotels in Dublin. He recently launched a tender, which he estimated at 50 million euros, for another panel of hosting providers.
Mr Kajani’s other Irish hotels include the Waterford Marina Hotel, a new Hampton by Hilton which will open near the Four Courts in Dublin next month and planned properties in Cork and Belfast. It also operates three hotels in London. Neither JMK nor IHG were available for comment.