Ashford Castle bookings stronger now than in 2019, manager says

Ashford owner Stanley Tollman died on Wednesday aged 91 after battle with cancer

Ashford Castle, Co Mayo. Photograph: iStock

Ashford Castle, Co Mayo. Photograph: iStock

 

The luxury end of the Irish travel industry is set to rebound strongly in spite of losses racked up during the Covid-19 pandemic, the manager of Ashford Castle has said.

Niall Rochford said forward bookings for the five-star hotel for 2022 were “very strong from the US” and were better now than they would have been at this point in 2019.

“I think potentially we could be on the edge of a golden age of travel. We very much feel that while we have gone through an extraordinarily difficult period, the next number of years could be very, very positive,” he said.

Mr Rochford made his remarks when commenting on Ashford’s latest accounts, which show Ashford Castle Hotel Ltd’s pretax losses increased 168 per cent to €7.5 million for 2020 while revenues plummeted.

In 2020 the hotel’s revenues fell 66 per cent, from €23 million to €7.8 million, due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

The loss last year takes account of hefty non-cash depreciation charges of €6.3 million and finance costs of €1.1 million.

Mr Rochford said the results were “what we expected given what we had to deal with. It was a very, very difficult time for everyone in the industry.”

He said the losses would have been lower but the business decided to hold on to all of its staff who wished to remain.

Mr Rochford said the wage subsidy schemes were also helpful and the accounts show that €1.1 million was received via these payments. The hotel is now working on a three- to five-year plan to see how the estate can be developed with various enhancements.

Ashford’s owners, the Tollman family and Red Carnation, “are in this for the long term and our people are our most important asset”, he added.

Mr Rochford was speaking just before the death of Stanley Tollman was announced by his family and the company. Mr Tollman was 91 and had battled cancer.