Howard Hastings, the managing director of Hastings Hotels, which owns the Europa, said that the Secretary of State’s description was “not strictly accurate.” John Toner, the hotel’s general manager at the time of the Clinton visit, was more blunt, “I don’t know where she’s getting that from,” he said.
Hastings and Toner both noted that the last explosion to damage the hotel—which was once, infamously, the most bombed in Europe—occurred in May 1993, some two-and-a-half years before the Clinton visit. Hastings Hotels, a Northern Ireland group founded by Howard Hastings’ father, Sir William, bought it shortly afterward. A multimillion-dollar refurbishment followed and the hotel reopened in February 1994.
Toner and Hastings believe that the then-First Lady may have been confused by the fact that there was some work going on around the time of her visit, 21 months after the re-opening. But both men insisted that this work was, in Hastings’ words, the kind of “repair and refurbishment” commonplace at any hotel undergoing an overhaul, and was “not because of a recent bombing.”