Saturday 10 December 2016

Revenues up 30pc at Mayo's Ashford Castle as luxury refurbishment lures Americans

Published 02/10/2016 | 02:30

Niall Rochford, general manager at Ashford Castle, is expecting record revenues and room rates in the current year
Niall Rochford, general manager at Ashford Castle, is expecting record revenues and room rates in the current year

Luxury Mayo hotel Ashford Castle saw revenues increase 30pc last year as it started to see the benefits of a $50m investment programme by new owners, Red Carnation.

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The hotel was closed for three months in both 2014 and 2015 to undergo an extensive refurbishment and all 60 rooms have been open since August of last year.

Accounts just filed for the company show that revenues were €11.8m.

However, the company took a €17.6m impairment charge last year following a commercial valuation by Savills, based largely on the hotel's historic trading performance and cash flow.

The future financial benefits expected from the refurbishment were not included in the valuation and the company described the impairment as temporary. The loss for the year was €23m, although there was an ebitDa of €269,000 in 2015, with this expected to increase significantly for 2016. "This year is the first full year trading since the refurbishment and we are expecting record revenues and record room rates," said Niall Rochford, general manager of Ashford Castle

Red Carnation is owned by Stanley and Bea Tollman, a South African couple who made their fortune in the hotel business.

"The intention from the beginning was to invest significantly and the vision was to create the best hotel of its kind in the world," said Rochford.

"The owners and directors are very satisfied with the results and they reflect the significant investment that has gone into the property over two years."

He said revenues would be up more than 30pc in the current year. Some 60pc of visitors are from America, 20pc are Irish, 10pc are from the UK and the remainder from the rest of the world. Rochford said the Irish visitor numbers had been above expectations.

Staff numbers have increased significantly to cater to the needs of the luxury-seeking visitors. In 2014, 165 people were employed at the hotel and that increased to 212 in 2015. Rochford said that number currently stands at 288, which equates to more than three staff per room.

As well as the overall refurbishment of the castle, a new spa has opened in Ashford and, in recent weeks, a former fisherman's lodge was launched as a luxury cottage.

Red Carnation also owns the Lodge at Ashford Castle, a four-star property.

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