Ireland’s first floating hotel could be open on Cork’s River Lee by Christmas after planners gave the project the green light, writes Eoin English.
Cork City Council has granted conditional planning to Dublin-based Sick and Sore Ltd to develop their ‘boatel’ project on the city’s northern quays.
The grant of planning is for a period of three years only, after which Mr Corbett’s company will have to reapply for retention.
Planners said they want, at that point, to be able to assess the development’s impact on local amenities and its impact on future development plans for the area.
However, their decision clears the way for the berthing of a 105m, three-deck river cruiser, with 96 cabins and accommodation for 156-people, at Penrose Quay, next to Michael Collins Bridge.
Sam Corbett, the man behind the venture, said he was delighted with the planning decision, which will lead to the creation of up to 40 jobs.
He also said he hopes it will spark more interest in the tourist and visitor potential of the River Lee.
“I would hope that over the coming years, we will see more floating attractions on the river Lee,” he said.
“It’s not just about floating hotels, bars, and restaurants.
“We have converted a 1916-built barge into an escape room experience based in Dublin’s Grand Canal dock, and alongside us, we have a floating Thai massage business and a barge cruise business.
“The same could be done in Cork — the river has great potential.”
He visited a boat yard in the Netherlands in recent days in a bid to close the sale on the floating hotel earmarked for Cork.
“I would hope to have the vessel back in Cork before Christmas,” he said.
It could cost up to €2.25m to purchase the vessel, and another €1m to refit and repaint it.
It is expected the vessel will undergo refitting over the coming weeks.
Mr Corbett hinted that the vessel may be repainted red and white — and that the floor space of some of the cabins on one of the decks will be increased from 12 sq m to 15 sq m.
He has also signed a deal with leading tour operator Paddywagon Tours, which will include the ‘boatel’ as one of its stops on its round-Ireland tours.
Mr Corbett paid tribute to the Port of Cork, and to Captain Michael McCarthy in particular, for his support for the venture.
The proposed vessel has operated cruises on several of Europe’s great rivers.
Sick & Sore Ltd, meanwhile, has been involved in several maritime projects around Ireland.
Mr Corbett was a key part of the project to acquire the former Cork-based tender vessel, the Cill Áirne.
The boat was renovated and refitted for use as a restaurant on Dublin City’s North Wall Quay in 2006.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner