Water shortages had “detrimental effect” on business - hotel manager

It has been a difficult few weeks for many businesses in Athlone as the council struggled to restore full water supply to all parts of the town.

The Prince Bar has had to install a new ground level water tank and Portaloos in its car park, while Athlone Towncentre had to turn to the adjoining Sheraton Hotel for assistance when hit by water shortages.

General manager of the Prince, Chris Vos, said the water shortages over the past couple of weeks had had a “detrimental effect” on the hotel’s business over Christmas.

“We are always badly affected, as we have one of the highest locations of a water tank in town. This end of town is on a hill, and our water tank sits 40 feet up on the roof. The council have been able to restore water supply, but the pressure is not reaching the tank. At the moment we have no internal water,” explained Mr Vos on Wednesday.

In preparation for the hotel’s planned reopening today [Friday], a new water tank was being installed at ground level yesterday in order to pump water up to the roof tank. The Prince also paid for Portaloos to be installed in the hotel’s car park, so that the bar and nightclub could function.

“Our bedrooms were always planned to be closed between January 2 and 7, and I’m glad we were closed as we couldn’t run the hotel in the current conditions. On New Year’s Eve we lost a quarter of our rooms. For those who decided to come, we were running up and down with buckets to fill cisterns. We lost a lot of business, it has had a pretty detrimental effect. The new tank is an additional cost we didn’t need at the moment.

“Having a gigantic storage tank on the roof should be enough to run a hotel. We have lost water on at least four occasions over the past 12 months, and we never get advance notice from the council. We only realise water is gone when guests wake up and there is no water in their shower,” he added.

Meanwhile Athlone Towncentre was not as badly hit, as they were fortunate to have back-up from the Sheraton Hotel’s own water supply.

“It is a major inconvenience to any business, but we are fortunate that the Sheraton has its own water supply,” said marketing manager Shirley Delahunt.

“We didn’t find the water issues had a major impact on business. In fact we found that because a lot of people were without heat or water, more people were eating out, and the restaurants and cafes in the Towncentre had a notable increase on last year. We are fortunate in that we work closely with the Sheraton, and when the council supply was out we had substantial reserve tanks in situ.”

Full water supply was restored to Athlone Towncentre yesterday [Thursday].


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