Vinnie and Mary Britton purchased the Sandhouse Hotel in the early 1950’s. With continual investment in the property they developed it into one of the leading hotels in Ireland.
In the early sixties the majority of the business came from England with most families staying at least two weeks and returning every year. When the trouble in Northern Ireland broke out this business was wiped out overnight. Mary Britton was one of the first Irish Hoteliers to see the potential of the US business. She persuaded Bord Failte to organize a sales trip to America in the late sixties. This proved so successful that it became an annual event. In 2000 Mary was honored for her commitment to overseas marketing as she partook in 30 consecutive US sales missions.
In 1991 Mary & Vinnie’s eldest son Brian bought out the rest of his family and took over the Hotel. He appointed myself as General Manager to take over from his mum. Mary was slow in retiring as she had such love for the business but eventually did in the late 1990’s. Brian invested heavily in the hotel turning it into a leading 4 star hotel and adding on a Marine Spa. In February 2009 at the start of the property crash Brian placed the hotel in voluntary liquidation. It was the first hotel to take this route and received a huge amount of publicity.
I managed the hotel for the liquidators for a year and subsequently leased it from them. Throughout this period the liquidator tried unsuccessfully to sell the property. In late 2011 the liquidator agreed to sell the hotel to me. In February 2012 the liquidator placed the hotel for sale on Alsop’s Auction while I was arranging finance with the banks. The reserve was €650,000 (much less that the price we had previously agreed). There was a three-week lead-in period from announcement to auction. This was too tight a time frame to get bank funding so I approached a number of individuals to lend the Money to me. Thankfully three business people agreed, we went to auction and managed to buy the hotel for €650,000.
The publicity that the sale generated was overwhelming. We appeared on TV 3, RTE News, The Saturday Night Show as well as TV shows in America Australia and New Zealand. We were interviewed on practically every radio show in Ireland. There were major articles in all the major national and local newspapers. We received thousands of good luck cards from all over the world.
Thankfully this publicity turned into business, which resulted in us having to recruit additional staff as well as securing employment for all our existing staff. Hopefully this trend will continue!