Dalata Hotel Group has reported a 75% increase in pre-tax profits for the year to the end of December as it said it intends to start the payment of dividends from this year.

Pre-tax profits for the year rose to €77.3m from €44.1m while revenues increased by 19.9% to €348.5m from €290.6m.

The hotel group said the occupancy rate across its hotels in Ireland and the UK rose to 83.1% from 82.1% while the average room rate rose by €8.88 to €106.48.

RevPAR (revenue per available room) also rose to €88.51 from €80.20 in 2016.

During the year the company spent €129m on hotel acquisitions, including Birmingham's Hotel La Tour, the Maldron Hotel in Portlaoise and 257 rooms at the Clayton Hotel Liffey Valley in Dublin.

A total of 889 rooms were refurbished during the year, bringing the total number of revamped rooms since 2015 to 2,270. 

The hotel group also said it has a current pipeline of over 2,200 new rooms with four new hotels on target to open this year in Belfast, Dublin and Cork.

The company said that trading is marginally ahead of expectations for the first quarter of this year and the outlook for the markets in which it operates remains positive.

It added that it continues to actively seek out opportunities to expand its portfolio both in Ireland and the UK.

Dalata cautioned that while a significant reduction in the value of sterling would make Ireland a more expensive destination for UK visitors, 85% of its rooms in Dublin are sold to either domestic consumers or visitors from countries other than the UK.

Only 6% of rooms in its regional hotels around the country are sold to UK customers, it added. 

The company's chief executive Pat McCann noted that the value of Dalata's property, plant and equipment is now almost €1 billion. This compares to €23.9m when it first listed on the Irish Stock Exchange.

"This is a stark reminder of how fast we have grown and how far we have come in a relatively short space of time," Mr McCann said.

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The CEO also said that the company is continuing to deliver on its promise of announcing 1,200 new rooms a year.

He noted that the Maldron Hotel Belfast City is due to open next month, the Maldron Hotel Kevin Street in Dublin is due to open in June, the Clayton Hotel Charlemont in Dublin will open in November and the Maldron Hotel South Mall in Cork will open up for business in December.

"Our development team are actively looking for new sites located in our 20 target cities across the UK. I am very excited about the quantity and quality of opportunities that are coming our way at present," Mr McCann added.

Shares in the company were 2.9% higher in Dublin trade today.