Group to bring Disney's magic to Kinnitty Castle
Samantha McCaughren and Liam Horan THE PEOPLE who turned an official Walt Disney hotel in Florida into one of the top 20 hotels in America are to work their magic on Kinnitty Castle.
An agreement with international hotel management group Buena Vista Hospitality Group comes as Co Offaly castle-owner Con Ryan embarks on a ?4.5m expansion of the luxury complex.
The group has signed an agreement to take over the running of Kinnitty Castle, which is located in the heart of Slieve Bloom Environmental Park. Buena Vista will also market the hotel here and in the US.
Mr Ryan, who owns the hotel with his wife Kathleen, said they turned to Buena Vista after making several attempts to put an effective management structure in place themselves.
Under the contract, Buena Vista will take over the complete running of the hotel and introduce new procedures of an international standard.
"This will enable us to further develop the American market," Mr Ryan said. "We are about to embark on a major expansion of the existing facilities by adding a further 27 bedrooms. Planning permission is also in place for a banqueting and conference facility."
He described Kinnitty Castle and its 65-acre grounds as "a world-class setting and product that has yet to fulfil its true potential".
Kinnitty's main business is wedding receptions and it is hoped the new moves will develop the mid-week corporate market.
Mr Ryan said the building works would not disrupt weddings there in the coming year. A major spa facility is also to be developed and he added this would involve "a substantial investment".
Other accommodation may also be developed.
Mr Ryan said yesterday that the agreement with the new management company would ensure that the highest standards were in place.
Describing the announcement as "a significant milestone", Minister for State at the Department of Finance Tom Parlon said: "We cannot underestimate the value of the American tourist market.
"The Slieve Bloom Environmental Park is a totally untapped natural resource for the midlands economy," he added.