THE floating hotel and restaurant earmarked for Cork’s Penrose Quay could be up and running by Christmas after successfully obtaining planning permission.
Thrilled with the outcome, Sam Corbett of Sick & Sore Limited - the company proposing the project - will travel to a shipyard in the Netherlands today to view the vessel that he intends to permanently moor in Cork’s quays.
"I’m going to the Netherlands to view a sister ship - the one we intended to buy has been sold since the process started two years ago, but amazingly, the sister of the ship we proposed to buy has come up for sale," he said.
"It’s built off the same plans." The ship will undergo a refit and will be repainted in the Netherlands before coming to Cork.
Dubbed the ‘botel’, the floating hotel/restaurant will be the first of its kind in Ireland.
‘We want to refit the old deck and make the bedrooms much bigger so they’re up to a four-star standard - from 12ms squared to 18ms squared.
‘We will get it repainted in the Netherlands and get the work done over there.’ Mr Corbett has hinted that the ship may even be painted in Cork colours, red and white, and he expects the refurbishment to take at least two weeks.
‘There’s a good chance we’d have it here in Cork before Christmas and we’ll open it as soon as it arrives.’
The €1.75m ship which will operate as a four-star hotel will be docked close to the Custom House, in Penrose Quay. The vessel is the same price as 'The Story’, the ship Mr Corbett initially mooted.
It’s 105 metre long, has 87 cabins, three decks, lounge areas, a bar, a large restaurant, sun deck, swimming pool and sauna. The restaurant will primarily focus on catering for hotel guests, but it will also open to the public for lunch and dinner.
"One of our biggest customers will be (sightseeing & touring company) Paddywagon tours," Mr Corbett said.
"A lot of them are looking for more high-end accommodation."
"The turnover will be a couple of million a year, (€1.7m and €2.2m) and we’ll be employing a lot of people as well, about 40 staff.
"Accommodation is an issue here in Cork - and here’s another 250 people who will stay in Cork, spend their money in Cork, go out in Cork, eat in Cork."
Mr Corbett told the Evening Echo that the initiative is widely supported by Failte Ireland and is the first of its kind in the country.