Eight Irish hotels get prestigious nods in the latest edition of Forbes Travel Guide, Pól Ó Conghaile reports
Forbes Travel Guide has awarded its coveted 'Five-Star' rating to an Irish hotel for the first time ever, its 2020 ratings reveal.
Ashford Castle in Cong, Co. Mayo, has been named as the first and only Irish hotel to receive the Guide's top award.
"This hotel really proved it could hold its own not only as best in its destination, but now as one of the very best in the world," Amanda Frasier, Executive Vice President with Forbes Travel Guide (FTG), told the Irish Independent.
"Particularly gracious staff members, anticipatory service gestures and luxurious facilities and amenities" all stood out for inspectors, she says.
FTG Inspectors pay their way, stay incognito for a minimum of two nights and evaluate hotels against a checklist of 500 "exacting standards", with 75pc of a hotel's score based on service and 25pc on facilities.
"Ashford Castle achieved a composite score higher than 88pc, which placed them on the list as one of the best hotels in the world," Frazier reveals.
And the room rates?
Standard 'Corrib Rooms' start from €295 on advance purchase rates in the off-season, but rocket to €725 per night in busier months.
“We’re over the moon," said Niall Rochford, General Manager.
"It’s probably the most meticulous and internationally recognised hotel rating system in the world, so it’s highly sought after and I’m immensely proud of our loyal and long-serving team for delivering such consistently warm and polished service and generous hospitality."
Forbes Travel Guide, a separate company to the global media giant, styles itself as "the only global rating system for luxury hotels, restaurants and spas".
The 2020 ratings are the largest in its 62-year history, with almost 1,900 properties receiving citations worldwide.
Despite being described as "one of the top destinations in the world", however, Ireland receives a total of just eight listings - with six located in Dublin.
As well as Ashford Castle, three Irish hotels meet its 'Four-Star' standard (The K Club, The Marker and The Merrion), while four are 'Recommended' (Dublin's InterContinental, Fitzwilliam, Shelbourne and Westbury hotels).
Several flagship properties - including Ballyfin, previously voted world's No.1 hotel by readers of Condé Nast Traveler, and Adare Manor, named Ireland's Favourite Hotel in our Reader Travel Awards 2020, are not listed.
"Since our initial launch of Dublin in 2017, Forbes Travel Guide has endeavoured to expand further into Ireland and has been making great efforts to comprehensively cover the country, with more expansion in the works," Frasier explains.
"While the number of rated properties is lower than some areas of the world, it certainly is proving its place with these superb hotels," she adds.
Ashford Castle has undergone a multi-million euro refurb since it was acquired by the South African Tollman family for its Red Carnation collection in 2013, with the addition of a new pool, spa, and 32-seat cinema.
London was dubbed the Guide's 'Five Star capital city' this year, with 19 hotels, including Red Carnation's Egerton House and Hotel 41, getting top gongs.
Service is given a heavy weighting in evaluations, Frazier says, "because the guest experience at a hotel goes beyond looks".
"How it makes them feel is what they will remember most."
Five-Star properties are described as "outstanding, often iconic, with virtually flawless service and amazing facilities".
Four-Star properties offer "exceptional service and the quality of facility to match", according to Forbes Travel Guide.
Recommended properties "are excellent with consistently good services and facilities".
Full ratings are on ForbesTravelGuide.com.