Ashford Castle completes its journey from receivership to luxury restoration
From receivership to restoration. Ashford Castle will employ up to 300 people when it opens this week, following a major refurbishment under the UK-based Red Carnation Hotel Group.
The castle sold for €20m in 2013, and it is estimated that the cost of the renovation work has been more than double the purchase price.
The former summer residence of the Guinness family went into receivership in late 2011.
But now it has been given an overhaul under its new owners, and will again employ hundreds of local people on the shores of Lough Corrib in Co Mayo.
Under the massive revamp, each of the hotel's 82 bedrooms has been redecorated in a bespoke fashion with plush carpets, antique furnishings and luxurious bathrooms.
A 32-seat cinema is perhaps the most modern addition to the property while a traditional billiard room and cigar terrace have been installed.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny will this Friday visit Ashford Castle, parts of which date back to the 13th century, to officially unveil its new look.
The vaulted entrance hall, the Connaught Room, Princes of Wales Bar, Drawing Room and the castle's three restaurants have all been enhanced.
The nine-hole golf course that sits on the 350-acre site has been treated to improve year-round play.
The Red Carnation Hotel Group was founded in the 1950s by South African Bea Tollman and named after her husband's favourite flower.
The Tollmans wanted to use local labour and contractors, and hundreds of craftsmen were brought in from the surrounding areas including Galway, Cong, and Roscommon.
The Prince of Wales bar has been made from local Connemara marble and in-room amenities include organic skincare range VOYA from Co Sligo.
"Mrs Tollman and her team have looked at the needs of Ashford Castle from top to bottom, inside and out and have put together a restoration programme that is truly out of this world," said Red Carnation's managing director Jonathan Raggett.
"It will take Ashford Castle to another level, beyond its already world-class standards."
Previous guests include George V, Ronald Reagan, Brad Pitt, John Wayne, Fred Astaire, Barbra Streisand, and John Travolta. Double rooms are set to be available from €395.