The iconic Ashford Castle hotel and resort in Cong, Co Mayo has been sold this week to a United Kingdom based hotelier group for €20 million after a period of receivership.
Red Carnation Hotels, owner of 14 boutique hotels finalised the purchase for less than half the €50 million price originally paid by former owner and Galway businessman Gerry Barrett in 2008.
Mr Barrett, who still operates the G Hotel and the Meyrick Hotel in Galway, placed the spectacular five-star resort into receivorship in 2011. Since then however, the hotel is reported to have remained a substantially profitable business and has been trading successfully.
The hotel group currently runs several hotels in the UK such as the Milestone and the Chesterfield hotels in London and the Duke of Richmond hotel in Guernsey. The hotel resort, which includes a nine-hole golf course on its 365-acre site, will be its first Irish acquisition and the group has big plans for the property. There have been recent reports that the group plan a major refurbishment of the grounds which may include the construction of residential lodges and penthouse bedrooms as well as a full upgrade of the golf course.
The sale of the historic property was concluded after an ambitious global marketing effort by joint receivers Ernst & Young and selling agent Savills Hotels and Leisure. When the hotel was put up for sale first in October of last year there had been much interest and enquiries from many international hoteliers, potential bidders, and investors.
“In what has been a very challenging time and volatile climate for the hotel industry, it is particularly pleasing to have exhanged contracts for the sale of Ashford Castle, maintaining 160 jobs in the Western region,” said joint receiver and manager Luke Charleton, who oversaw the deal on behalf of Ernst & Young. “The successful process demonstrates Ernst & Young and Savills’ global reac and expertise in marketing such a high profile, internationally renowned, asset. I would particularly like to thank employees for their professionalism and customers of Ashford Castle for their support during the receivership process.”
Tom Barrett of Savills believes that the sale proves that the Irish hotel industry is in great shape and still financially successful. “This is an important sale for the Irish hotel industry and is a strong vote of confidence in the future of the industry from a leading international hotel and travel group,” he said. “Ashford Castle is the jewel in the crown of Irish hospitality. Known throughout the world, it has attracted many high profile visitors.”
Ashford Castle was once owned by the Guinness family and its grounds were used for the set of the classic 1951 John Ford film The Quiet Man. Amongst the most famous celebrities to have stayed there include John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Oscar Wilde, Prince Rainier lll and Princess Grace of Monaco, and John Wayne.