Neil O'Reilly

Entrepreneur

The Early Days

As far back as I can remember — even as a young boy — I had what seemed like an innate hunger for success. I started my first and surprisingly lucrative business at the age of 13 cutting grass in the local neighborhoods with my best friend Tom. Around the same time, I also got a job advertising for a Greek restaurant by standing on Grafton Street with a sandwich board.

Grafton Street, Dublin Grafton Street, Dublin

While I was never afraid of getting my hands dirty and while the aforementioned jobs wouldn't be called glamorous, my early foray into the entrepreneurial world was a learning experience for me. This formative time gave me pause to think about what it was that I wanted to do with my life and I knew then that I wanted to be my own boss. Holding a sandwich board was the one and only time that I worked for someone else.

My small ventures aside, time outside of school was spent mainly at the Olympian Gymnastics Club. It was safe to say that I was not the most talented of gymnasts, but I trained hard and loved to coach. With this, it quickly became apparent that coaching was an area in which I excelled.

For many years, I coached gymnasts to compete at national level until the time came when I decided to set up my own gymnastics club with fellow gymnast and good friend Robert Maher.

Neil O'Reilly and Robert Maher Neil O'Reilly and Robert Maher
Neil O'Reilly and Charles Appenzeller with kids Neil O'Reilly and Charles Appenzeller

We taught gymnastics to children of all ages in dozens of schools throughout Dublin. The club was very successful and over time had grown to become one of the biggest gymnastics clubs in the country.

Although I moved on to pursue new ventures, I am pleased that the Olympian Gymnastic Club remains alive and well today and is stronger than ever.

My 20’s & 30’s...

I was always interested in property and bought my first house when I was just 20 years old.

I continued to expand my property portfolio in Ireland and in the UK before deciding in my mid-twenties to set up a business called "Platinum Developments & Investments Ltd" with two other partners in February 2003. Our aim was to sell foreign property.

It was an exciting new business and I enjoyed traveling abroad, hosting property seminars throughout Ireland and meeting new people. It was also a very exciting time in Ireland as an economic “boom”, or the “Celtic Tiger” as this time was referred to, was starting to come into effect and the demand in Ireland for foreign property was unprecedented.

The first major project that we sold, was a front-line beach resort “Golf & Beach Resort Pomorie Ltd” and was being built in Bulgaria by a Dutch Development company. The project was sold off plan where hundreds of Irish people invested and initially all seemed well, but the project ended up in serious financial trouble. It eventually went into bankruptcy, leaving us in a situation where our clients faced losing millions of euros.

A difficult and risky decision befell the next chapter of my life. On the 22nd of, July 2004 we took over the Golf & Beach Resort Pomorie Ltd in Bulgaria. We renamed the development “Sunset Resort” and together with our Bulgarian business partner, Boyan Bonev, put a rescue plan in place to save it.

Almost overnight (in the literal, not figurative sense) our roles had transformed from being the selling agents of the resort to the developers, which as you can imagine was not an easy transition. Here, we were four young lads with limited funds and no previous development experience trying to build Bulgaria’s largest ever resort development. The challenges that faced us were ones of epic proportions.

This of course attracted a lot of negative press in Ireland with most newspaper articles and investors predicting a grim outcome. We even managed to make our way onto the Phoenix's list of TOP 10 DISASTERS for 2004!

Thankfully though, our investors supported us wholeheartedly.We worked tirelessly for the next few years and managed to complete the project.

The take over and completion of Sunset Resort was and still is one of our greatest achievements to date. The pictures taken between 2004 and 2006 show what a mammoth task it was to complete this development. “Sunset Resort” then became the stepping-stone for our next projects.

Following our success with Sunset Resort, we decided to continue selling new developments in Bulgaria. Despite the initial bad press which we received over Sunset Resort, the numbers of investors continued to grow and so we added 2 new directors to the board, Mr. Declan Lennon and Mr. David McMorrow. Declan was now the new Managing Director and David was Head of Irish Sales.

The “Celtic Tiger” era was now in full swing and it seemed as though almost everyone in Ireland wanted to buy property abroad. We could easily close 50 sales during a weekend show in Dublin.

During this time we sold and completed a number of developments in Bulgaria totaling over 2,500 units. Most of the developments were along the Black Sea Coast with some in Sofia and Bansko. We also set up several offices with hundreds of sub agents throughout Europe.

The global financial crisis that occurred in 2008 was referred to by many economists as “the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929-30”.

Many businesses suffered as a result of the global financial crises, some lost 30% of their trade, some lost 50% but we lost 100%. We went from 50-100 sales per month to zero.

We let 99% of our staff go and continued to work from our Dublin office until we were forced to close because we were insolvent. Platinum Investments and Developments eventually ceased trading.

Before “the crash” property was thought of as being an almost risk free investment. This is no longer the case. It was a lesson which I and many Irish people had unfortunately learned the hard way.

Today

Since its opening 9 years ago Sunset Resort has gone from strength to strength and now consists of two phases which are both fully completed and operational. Not only is Sunset Resort the largest development in Bulgaria, it is also the largest 5 star resort in Europe and has won a litany of awards.

It had over 250 000 bed nights in the 2015 season and is fully booked for the 2016 season through Europe’s largest operators. To date 24 world presidents have stayed here and Sunset Resort was also the proud host of the UEFA Under 17 Championships in 2015, with this being the first time that UEFA accommodated ALL of the teams in one hotel.

Construction of the third phase of Sunset Resort, Sunset Aquapark Resort, has now also begun.

Sunset Aquapark Resort will include 2 residential buildings and a large commercial area consisting of a 25,000 sq.m aquapark with several bars, cafes & restaurants. The 2 residential buildings will comprise a total of 348 apartments and 1,800 sq.m of commercial space and the development will be connected to Phase 1 and 2 via an underpass.

Construction of the aquapark & restaurants commenced in January 2015 and will be completed and operational in June 2016, with the 2 residential buildings scheduled for completion in 2017.

Neil O'Reilly

Throughout all the stages of my life so far, from “The Early Days” right up to “Today”, my journey has been nothing short of an adventure. As for “Tomorrow”, well the sky's the limit!

There are many more chapters which have yet to be written in my story and I am excited to see what the future will bring.

 

To be continued...

Completed Projects

Residential

Sunset Resort - Phase I

Location
Pomorie

Units
755

Sunset Resort - Phase II

Location
Pomorie

Units
160

Sofia Project 1

Location
Sofia

Units
147

Sunny Beach Development 1

Location
Sunny Beach

Units
120

Sunny Beach Development 2

Location
Sunny Beach

Units
100

Sunny Beach Development 3

Location
Sunny Beach

Units
90

Ski Project 1

Location
Bansko

Units
60

Ski Project 2

Location
Bansko

Units
60

Aheloy Residence - Phase I

Location
Aheloy

Units
700

Selena Residence

Location
Sunny Beach

Units
210

Commerical

Mediterraneo Restaurant

Italian Restaurant Venezia

Asian Restaurant Asia

French Restaurant La Bohème

Vienna Pastry Shop

Restaurant Grill House

Restaurant Brilliant

Restaurant Smaragd

Restaurant Sapphire

Restaurant Diamond

Restaurant Emerald

Bars & Cafes

Bowling

Fitness

Corporate

Current Projects

Sunset Aquapark Resort Construction Updates

July 6, 2016

May 23, 2016

May 12, 2016

April 25, 2016

April 18, 2016

April 2016

March 2016

February 2016

January 2016

December 2015

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

UEFA Football Championship 2015

Congratulations to all the team at Sunset Resort who hosted all the teams for the UEFA Under-17 European Championship. It was the first time that UEFA hosted all the teams in the same venue. It was a very busy month for all management and staff at Sunset Resort. The final took place on the 22 May between Germany and France, which was won by the French team. The President of UEFA Mr. Michel Platini visited Burgas for the final. Thank you to all the management and staff for ensuring the event was a success.

UEFA Under-17 European Championship 2015, Sunset Resort, Pomorie, Bulgaria

Bill Clinton

Sir Alex Ferguson

Steven Gerrard

Steve Jobs

Dominic Munnelly: “The Transformation Catalyst”

Mr. Jack Wise

Derek Daniels

Brian O’Driscoll

Charles Appenzeller

Lee Kuan Yew

Luke Comer

Elon Musk