The Castlemartyr Resort in Cork has been acquired for close to €14m by British businessman and hotelier Martin Shaw, who also owns a significant golf resort called Old Thorns Manor House in Hampshire, near London.
The swift purchase of the five-star resort, on 220 acres, after it went to the open market in June, is expected to bring a strong UK golfer focus and financial dividends to the east Cork golf, spa, and hotel complex, which is half an hour’s drive from Cork Airport.
Developed by the Supple family, Castlemartyr opened in 2007/08, and guests have include former US president Bill Clinton, rocker Bruce Springsteen, and celebrity couple Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, who stayed there on the Irish leg of their honeymoon.
It hosts 100 weddings a year, and was developed at reported cost of €70m. Castlemartyr employs more than 120 staff, who were told this week of a change of ownership, with contracts signed and the deal set to close out very shortly after a period of due diligence.
The sale at Castlemartyr includes a five-star, 103-bed luxury hotel centred around a historic manor house and 13th Norman castle ruin, lake, a golf course designed by Ron Kirby, 19 contemporary courtyard lodges, and nine gate lodges, bought as an extra €1m lot on top of the hotel’s €13m guide.
New owner Mr Shaw bought the complex after his first-ever visit to Ireland this summer. He has close links to the veteran BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss, who co-designed the Old Thorns course in 1982.
Originally developed for Japanese owners, Old Thorns was bought by second-generation hoteliers, brothers Martin and Mark Shaw in 2007 after they had sold another UK country house and golf course, Dunston Hall in Norwich.
Mr Alliss, meanwhile, is the honorary president at Martin Shaw’s Old Thorns resort at Liphook, and his son, Henry Alliss, is golf operations manager there.
Contracts have been signed on the Castlemartyr Resort, for close to the €13m guide price quoted by agents Savills in early June, and the new owner also opted to spend a further reported €1m to add the nine gate lodges offered as a separate lot to the main purchase.
Although the exact price hasn’t been confirmed in the Nama sale, it is understood to be the equivalent of £10m — the price of a good London home.
News of the signing of contracts was relayed to staff in recent days, and the sale is expected to close out shortly. It is understood that the Supple family may retain a role in the resort’s future management.
Describing the agreed sale as “the start of a new chapter for Castlemartyr”, Barry Supple said it was a good news story for Castlemartyr Resort, for east Cork and the region as a whole.
“The investment shows a significant vote of confidence in what we know to be one of Ireland’s finest destinations,” he said.
“On behalf of all the management and staff at Castlemartyr Resort, this is a new and exciting time for everyone.
“Myself and all the team are looking forward to working closely with the owners to further enhance the product and reputation of the resort, both at home and abroad.”
The sale of Castlemartyr is the latest in a line of jewel hospitality and sporting asset disposals.
They include the Fota Resort two year ago for over €20m, Waterford Castle Resort this year for over €6m, and Adare Manor to racing magnate JP McManus for over €30m.
Meanwhile, in the same elevated price league, the proposed sale of the Clarion Hotel in Cork City has gone to best and final bids with Savills, who guide the city centre hotel investment at €30m. Interest in the Clarion is coming come from Irish, UK, and Far East investors.
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