Ashford Castle enjoys ‘exceptional year’ on €100m investment

This has been “an exceptional year” for the five-star Ashford Castle hotel, with earnings and revenues likely to increase significantly from 2015.

Ashford Castle enjoys ‘exceptional year’ on €100m investment

That is according to the general manager of the luxury hotel, Niall Rochford, who said that the hotel has enjoyed occupancy rates “of the mid to high 90s” between mid-May and the end of September this year.

Mr Rochford was commenting on new accounts filed by Ashford Castle Hotel Ltd which show that earnings at the hotel last year totalled almost €270,000. Revenues rose by 30% from €9m to €11.76m.

The business emerged from receivership in 2013 after the UK firm, Red Carnation Hotels paid €20m for the Co Mayo resort.

A €100m restoration also includes the addition of a 30- seater cinema and a spa.

This year has been the first full year of trading for the hotel since its restoration.

“From an occupancy point of view, it has been the busiest year that the Castle has ever experienced and our average room rates reflect the significant investment that has been put into the castle,” Mr Rochford said.

“It has been a very, very positive year and more positive than we expected.”

He said that revenues and earnings will increase significantly at the hotel this year on account of increased business but also due to the castle now having many more rooms.

The 60 rooms which were available in August last year has increased to 83 rooms since the start of the 2016 season.

The estate also contains the 50-bedroom Lodge at Ashford, which the hotel complex plans to increase to 64 rooms.

The Lodge will host 85 weddings this year.

The accounts confirm that during 2015 the firm commissioned Savills to carry out an independent valuation of the hotel.

That valuation put an impairment value on the hotel of €17.6m though the directors say in the accounts that the impairment “is temporary and will be reversed in the coming years”.

The directors say that the impairment relied to a great extent on the performance of the business in 2014 and 2015 when the hotel was closed for three months.

This resulted in the firm recording a pre-tax loss of €23m last year. That loss also took into account non-cash depreciation costs of €4.65m.

The accounts show that the hotel last year received an additional €27m in loans from a related party to finance the restoration works in 2015.

The amount loaned to the firm by the related party totalled €56.39m.

Numbers employed at the estate total 368, which means “Ashford would be a significant employer in the south Mayo area”, Mr Rochford said. Staff costs last year totalled €5.2m.

The directors say that given the disruption to the business in 2015 because of the closure for three months, that they are satisfied with the earnings of €269,164.

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