Ashford Castle owner pays €20m for former student digs at Hatch Hall

Landmark property, built in 1912 as UCD students' residence, will become boutique hotel

Hatch Hall in Dublin 2 has been the subject of plans for conversion to hotel use since 2004.

Hatch Hall in Dublin 2 has been the subject of plans for conversion to hotel use since 2004.

 

A longstanding plan to deliver a five-star boutique hotel at Hatch Hall, the former Victorian university residence hall on Hatch Street, Dublin 2, has moved a step closer with the completion of its sale to Red Carnation Hotels for more than €20 million.

Designed by architect CB Powell, the property was built for the Jesuit order in 1912 to provide accommodation for students attending UCD’s original campus at nearby Earlsfort Terrace.

In 2004, the property was acquired for €16 million by Gerry Barrett’s Edward Holdings. While the Galway-based developer secured permission from Dublin City Council to transform the building into an exclusive 81-bedroom hotel, the plan was later shot down by An Bord Pleanála. And although Mr Barrett secured approval subsequently to convert the building into 36 high-end apartments, that plan fell by the wayside.

Asylum seekers

The property had, up until recently, been used by its most recent owners, East Coast Catering Ireland Ltd, to house asylum seekers for the Department of Justice under the terms of the direct provision system. East Coast acquired Hatch Hall, for its part, after Mr Barrett put it up for sale in 2011 for just €6 million as part of his efforts to pay down Edward Holdings’ debt to Nama.

East Coast Catering Ireland’s €20 million sale of Hatch Hall to Red Carnation Hotels was brokered by John Hughes of CBRE’s hotel division. While Mr Hughes declined to comment on the price achieved for the Dublin 2 landmark, he said he believes the property will make a welcome addition to the capital’s luxury hotel market while also acting as a complement to Red Carnation’s other Irish hotel, the five-star Ashford Castle Hotel in Co Mayo.

Red Carnation Hotels purchased the world-famous hotel and its 365-acre estate from Mr Barrett for €20 million in 2013. The South African-headquartered company secured the property ahead of a number of rival bidders after the developer put it into receivership .

Significant loss

But while Red Carnation’s acquisition of Ashford Castle secured all 160 jobs at the resort and allowed the business to continue trading normally and without interruption, it also served to crystallise a significant loss for Mr Barrett on his original investment. The Galway businessman had paid €50 million in 2008 to buy the property overlooking Lough Corrib from a group of Irish-American investors.

Outside of its ownership of Ashford Castle and Hatch Hall, Red Carnation Hotels owns and operates a further 16 luxury and award-winning boutique hotels in the UK, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA.