Marine Hotel reportedly sold for half original asking price

THE Marine Hotel in Ballycastle is due to reopen after its sale was agreed at almost half the original asking price, it has been reported.

The prospect of the hotel reopening brings hope to the town which has been without a hotel for the past 18 months.

Claire Hunter from nearby Armoy is understood to have agreed to pay around £405,000 - down from an asking price of £800,000 - when the hotel came on the market early last year.

In other good news for Ballycastle, progress has been made on plans for a £12m hotel and spa to be built on a site on the coast road with views of Rathlin Island and the Mull of Kintyre.

SDLP councillor Donal Cunningham welcomed the progress towards the Marine Hotel’s reopening.

“It has been very frustrating that this issue has been allowed to drift to this stage, but thankfully we now seem to have a resolution,” he said.

“Hopefully this will become a catalyst in the redevelopment of Ballycastle and create much needed jobs. Our economy is in great need of tourism being boosted.”

Selling agents Osborne King suggested it could reopen in late summer or early autumn. Associate director Mark Carron said the sale was subject to contract but that it was a “positive” situation.

“We would hope it will reopen in the summer, if the sale goes through okay,” he said.

“As it’s been empty for 19 months, it will need some attention and work to get it up and running again - the rooms are looking tired.”

Mrs Hunter did not wish to comment at this stage except to say the hotel would “hopefully” be opening later this year.

A banner announcing the hotel’s reopening was hung outside the premises on the town’s North Street in recent days, however, it has since been taken down.

The hotel formerly belonged to Ballycastle man Mervyn McAlister, who went bankrupt after the value of his vast property portfolio plummeted in the financial downtown.

Meanwhile, plans for a 120-room hotel and spa outside the town - a joint venture between McHenry Brothers of Ballycastle and Diamond Investments - are also progressing.

It is understood the development at Drumawillan on the Whitepark Road will operate under a well-known brand on its first Northern Ireland venture. Around 100 jobs will be created if the hotel is completed.

Pearse McHenry said the consortium was in the final stages of securing support from Invest NI.

“We hope to agree something this week with Invest NI, but plans are progressing well and we’re working very hard on it. We’re revamping the original plans but the elevations remain the same,” he said.

“It will be one of the greenest hotels ever to be built in Northern Ireland - with solar panels supplying the electricity and possibly even wood chips providing the heating.”

Invest NI refused to comment.

North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has welcomed the news that a sale has been agreed on the Marine Hotel.

Mr McKay also called on both the local council and in particular Invest NI to offer the necessary support to get both the hotel and swimming pool open to the public as soon as possible.

He said: “It is to be very much welcomed that a sale has at last been agreed in regard to the Marine Hotel. It is a landmark building in the town and will play a key role in increasing the amount of tourists that visit Ballycastle and boosting the local economy.

“The closure of the Marine was a huge blow to the town, especially to the many people who worked there and those who not only used the hotel but the swimming pool as well.

“It is important that the local council and in particular Invest NI offer the necessary support to get both the hotel and the swimming pool operational and open to the public as soon as possible.”