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Huge prices sought for Irish Open houses

NORTH Clare homeowners are looking for more than €8,000 to rent out their properties for the Irish Open and this week has seen calls for more moderate pricing.

On Monday, on airbnb.ie, a house described in its blurb as a “Lahinch Irish Open house in Miltown Malbay”, could be booked for €8,169.

On the same site, €7,879 could secure a golf fan a three-bedroom house, which was described as being an eight minute walk from Lahinch’s main street. Another property in the village was available for the princely sum of €7,022 for the week.

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner, Offaly’s Shane Lowry and world number 13, Tommy Fleetwood, were confirmed this week for the tournament, which is taking place from July 4 to 7.

Local hotelier Michael Vaughan is a past president of the Irish Hotels Federation and he said some of the prices being sought are very high. “As far as we’re concerned in Lahinch and North Clare, the Irish Open is a similar event to the Fleadh or any of those big festivals that happen.

“We want to put our best foot forward and to be seen as a very competitive and tourist-centred area. For that to happen, we all need to have a sense of fairness when we’re pricing our products.”

Mr Vaughan said that local hoteliers have said they will not charge more than a 20% premium for the period, which will see tens of thousands of visitors to North Clare. “In my own mind, I don’t believe that the Irish Open is an event that you would charge more for than the Willie Clancy or the Fleadh coming to Ennis. We’re supporting the golf club and its members and we’d like the wider tourism community to take the viewpoint that fairness should prevail. Lots of people are going to come who will never come to our part of the world again and we want them to go away with a very positive impression of what a good time they had and what good value they got,” he added.

He doesn’t expect that people will be able to achieve extremely high prices anyway. “I wouldn’t have thought so at all; I wouldn’t expect they would. The highest price I’ve heard of so far for any house rented currently is about €1,700 but I think it has about seven bedrooms in it. I think there’s a misunderstanding. People might think the elite of the golfing world are coming to Lahinch and that they can pay whatever price is put. That’s not the case at all. The golfers coming have to bring a team of four, five or six people with them and many of them will want a house to do that. But they don’t want to pay any more than a hotel.”

Expectations need to come into line with reality, he believes. “I’ve had 10 or 15 calls since the start of November from people who are trying to rent out houses. When I ask them what price they’re looking for they will say, ‘I hear there’s a house being rented in Lahinch for €5,000 for the week’. I say to them, ‘if you get €5,000, I’d be very surprised. It’ll be more like €1,500 or at the most €2,000.’ The winter time in Lahinch is great for rumours. I think people have by and large exaggerated the value of their own houses for the Irish Open.”

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