Dallas investor moves ahead with five-star luxury golf resort next to Royal Portrush

An artist's impression of the five-star Dunluce Lodge resort next to Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Ryan McAleer

A TEXAS-based investor has moved ahead with a £6 million proposal to develop a luxury golf resort next to Royal Portrush.

Dunluce Lodge is being promoted as the first five-star accommodation across the Causeway coast.

Ballykeel Beg House, a property on Dunluce Road, which overlooks the fourth fairway of the championship course, has been acquired for the 35 suites and health spa.

Ballykeel Beg Holdings Ltd was set up in August last year by the former secretary manager of Royal Portrush Golf Club Wilma Erskine, and US based investor Jonathan Harper.

The company, set up just weeks after Portrush hosted the British Open, is owned by Woc Portrush US Inc, a Dallas-based entity also set up in August 2019.

It’s understood the investor acquired the 8.5 acre site next to Royal Portrush for around £2.5m.

Ms Erskine is widely recognised as one of the key figures involved in bringing the world famous event to the north coast resort for the first time since 1951.

She stepped down from her high profile role at the end of last summer.

The proposed hotel/lodge lies just across the Dunluce Road from the site of an ill-fated £30m hotel proposal by a different Texas-based investor.

Arc Investments, which lodged its bid as North Coast Ventures, withdrew its application in November 2018 after significant community resistance.

Just over 430 people registered their opposition to The Dunluce Resort & Spa.

The company’s so-founder Gavin Boyd said his firm had pulled the proposal after listening to the community feedback.

Satellite imagery of the proposed site next to Royal Portrush.

A pre-planning consultation process for the new lodge/hotel proposal was completed last year.

In recent days, Ballykeel Beg No.1 Limited formally lodged its planning application with Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council via agents Clyde Shanks.

Industry monitor CIS Ireland puts the estimated value of the project at £6.3m.

A series of detailed reports have been completed in support of the application, including an economic appraisal which suggests that the project could be worth up to £9.8m per season for the local economy, if it secures occupancy levels of 80-90 per cent.

The report states that 20 jobs would be created at the resort, along with 148 direct construction jobs, with another 98 indirectly supported.

The project has been designed by Inverness based architecture firm, Maxwell & Company.

An artist's impression of Dunluce Lodge from the course.

A report submitted to planning officials indicates that the architects were approached in May 2019, based on similar projects completed in Scotland. The work includes the redevelopment of Andrew Carnegie’s private Highland home Skibo Castle, to create the Carnegie Club, and Links House, Dornoch, a conversion of a former church manse into a manor house hotel next door to Royal Dornoch Golf Club.

The same report summaries the proposal as “a tailored luxury golf lodge experience that complements the world-class golfing experience provided by Royal Portrush Golf Club on its doorstep”.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access