Waterford island floated

IRELAND’S signature castle hotels have been changing hands with aplomb this year – think Ashford Castle, and now Adare Manor on the hook for c €40m, while this week the illustrious roll-call is joined by the more modestly priced Waterford Castle.

Waterford Castle resort, comprising a compact 20-bed hotel at the centuries’ old castle (with five suites, including a Presidential suite ) plus 43 lodges is on a 310-acre island along the River Suir just east and downriver of two miles from Waterford city: it goes on the open market this week for Nama, via Marcus Magnier of Colliers International, seeking offers in excess of €4.5m.

It’s in receivership due to considerable, €30m-plus debts to AIB run up by a business consortium who launched 48 luxury lodges, at the market-meltdown period of 2007. But, it’s said to be trading profitably with turnover of €3.5m-plus in the past year, with over €300k from golf.

Its lodges, designed by Harrington Fewer Lalor, are grouped on nine acres and attract up to €800 a week in peak season. They had price tags of €745,000 to €850,000 when launched in 2007 by Cork-based Harte Holdings, with the Tipperary-based Simpson family, owners of the Castle, but few lodges sold.

The sale now of Waterford Castle resort now includes 43 of those 48 c 1,400 sq ft five-star guest lodges, 310 acres of land with 200 acres as an early 1990s Des Smyth-designed championship 18-hole golf course with clubhouse; current membership is 430 members.

The 310-acre island is reached via a few minutes’ ferry ride on the car-carrying ferry the Mary Fitzgerald, which can run 24/7, according to Colliers, and while that is not included in the sale, it can be bought separately for €700,000.

The Waterford castle gem is likely to have an international appeal, with US buyers traditionally keen on such buys, now joined by the Chinese.

Colliers International’s Marcus Magnier was joint agent in the 2013 sale of the Fota Island Resort and golf club in Cork harbour, for c €20m to the Chinese Kang family, and it has since hosted this year’s 2014 Irish Open.

Virginia creeper and wisteria-clad Waterford Castle dates back five centuries, and the Suir river island has been inhabited for at least 800 years: its stone building is characterised by some exceptionally fine formal rooms.

There has been previous planning applications for extension, of up to 98 bedrooms, as well as broadening the sporting mix to include equestrian and water-borne activities with marina.

Set on Little Island, and reached via a three-minute ferry ride (up to 12 cars) from Ballinakill, the castle was developed into a luxury small hotel in 1988, with recent accolades for cuisine and functions.

Its land is considered top quality grazing land for the most part, with some sloblands, and effectively it has a micro-climate which was capitalised upon back in the 1960s when it had 200,000 sq ft of glasshouses for bulb and fruit growing for export.

Details: Colliers International 01-6333700


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