Iconic Portaferry Hotel Sold

Up-and-coming hotelier Bill Wolsey, whose company Beannchor Group owns The Merchant in downtown Belfast, has acquired The Portaferry Hotel - a famous gem in the Irish hotel world.

Mr Wolsey has said that 10 new jobs are expected to be created as the group is due to invest more than £100,000 in the Portaferry premises to refurbish the 14 bedroom hotel.

The Beannchor Group currently has 51 properties in its portfolio, with bars including The Spaniard, The Cloth Ear and Muriels, and The Leighinmohr Hotel in Ballymena.

A former President of the NI Hotels & Caterers Association, John Herlihy - now retired - used to own the seafront hotel with his wife, Marie Herlihy.
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The Herlihys had originally moved to Northern Ireland to manage the Russell Court Hotel for the Irish transport holding company, CIE on Belfast's Lisburn Road, and after that was bombed by the IRA in the 1970s they took on the prestigious Everglades on the outskirts of Londonderry - now owned by Hastings Hotels - and then later bought the Portaferry hotel for themselves and established it as a small, but prestigious hostelry.

They were recognised by the Irish County Houses and Restaurants Association and entered into their famous Blue Book - a rare accolade that was also complemented by an AA Rosette.

In 2007, it changed hands for an undisclosed sum in a deal brokered by Belfast property agents, Whelan Property Consultants.

The successful purchaser was the Belfast-based Jewell Group, who said at the time that they were not planning wholesale change but indicating instead that they intend to build on the traditions laid down by the establishment's previous owners.

Later, Mar Properties took control of Scandown LLP which by then included the Portaferry Hotel as one of its establishments.

Then in May this year, Bill Wolsey began a process to buy 15 Co Down pubs from Mar Properties, with pubs including the Groomsport Inn and sister pub The Stables, the Hillside in Hillsborough, Lisbarnett House near Lisbane and the Esplanade in Ballyholme, Bangor.

Now, less than six months later, The Portaferry Hotel has also been taken over by the Beannchor Group.


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