THE new owner of the Courtenay Lodge Hotel in Newcastle West expects to re-open for business within four months. But whether the name is retained or not remains to be seen.
“It is under discussion,” the new owner, Jim Long told the Limerick Leader this week, speaking from his home in London.
Mr Long is a native of Feoghanagh who has been in business in London for many years where he has built up a considerable property portfolio.
However, he revealed, the Courtenay Lodge is his first hotel and it was the local connection which spurred him into buying it.
The 39-bedroom hotel closed last month with the loss of over 40 jobs and Mr Long is understood to have bought it for a little under €600,000.
“I felt there was a need for a good, quality hotel and a good restaurant to a high standard,” he said.
With a good manager in place and with Ireland coming out of recession, he was upbeat about the hotel’s future.
However, before that can even begin happening, he is planning a four-month refurbishment.
“The whole hotel is very tired,” he said.
The newer section of the hotel is in good condition, he added, but he will revamp it with a new colour design and new carpets. The older end of the building, housing the function room, may need more considerable work and may even have to be demolished and rebuilt, Mr Long indicated.
“I will take advice from our architect,” he said but added: “From my own experience, sometimes it is easier to rebuild.”
His vision is to provide good quality accommodation, a high-end dining room as well as continuing the bar-food trade and to develop facilities for weddings and other functions.
“It is adequate in size. It is just a matter of getting the right finish, coming up with a good design. With the population and the catchment area, there is an opening there,” Mr Long said.
He is married to Newcastle West woman, Mary Sheppard who is Professor of Cardiovascular Pathology at St. Georges Medical School, University of London. They have four children: Mary-Louise who runs her own restaurant in Wanstead, called “Longhorn”, James who is a chartered surveyor in London, Francesca who is at university in Leeds and Jonathan who is in his final year studying for his A Levels.
Up to last year, Mr Long’s brother John owned the shop and filling station in Feoghanagh. He has now retired.
The news of Mr Long’s purchase has been warmly welcomed in the town and has created a certain feel-good factor in the run-up to Christmas.
“It is good for the town, good for the area and good for local employment,” Cllr Michael Collins said.
Fine Gael TD Patrick O’Donovan also welcomed the development which he said was good news for the town.