Irish private equity firm to build ‘world’s first Indoor winter sports resort’

Plans for a €600m project near Ipswich in England have been recommended by a Government planning inspector following a public inquiry.

Dublin private equity real estate firm First Equity Group is a step closer to developing a project it says is the world’s first winter sports resort after a Government planning inspector backed the scheme.

First Equity’s plan to develop the €600 million ($929 million) project near Ipswich in England called SnOasis has been scrutinized by Government planning authorities and only recently won recommendation from an Inspector following a public inquiry. Now the Secretary of State at the Department of Communities and Local Government has said the Government is ‘minded’ to approve the leisure elements of the scheme subject to requirements linked to sustainability and wildlife issues.

First Equity owns 70 percent of Onslow Suffolk, the company behind the project. It will house Europe’s largest indoor ski slope, plus a nursery slope, external ice rink, speed skating track, dry bobsled push start track, a 1.5km Cross-country ski run, a National Winter Sports Academy with 200-bed hostel, a 350 room four star hotel and conference centre, 350 self-catering holiday village style 4, 6 and 8, bed ski lodges plus apartments, bars, restaurants and a railway station with links to London’s Liverpool Street Station.

First Equity is an Irish firm with offices in Dublin and Los Angeles which invests equity on behalf of high net worth individuals.

The firm says SnOasis will be the world’s first indoor winter sports resort offering family activity holidays and also a dedicated facility for winter sports training. A total of 14 different winter sports disciplines will be catered for in the venue – a first for the UK.

Alan Barry, managing director at First Equity, said:  “This is an important milestone for our investment in this project and represents a significant uplift in the valuation of the project for our investor group. We can now begin the process of implementing plans to construct an iconic world class facility at this unique location.”

The firm was established in 1995 and has a track record of delivering 25 percent returns a year, according to the firm. Its primary focus is on providing debt.

It has around €2 bilion assets under management, 55 percent of which are in the UK, 25 percent in the US, 18 percent in Europe and 2 percent in Ireland.