London, 13 November 2015 – The iconic Ashford Castle in Ireland has been awarded Opening of the Year (Renovation or Conversion) at the 2015 European Hospitality Awards. The prestigious award ceremony, which celebrates the very finest hotels throughout Europe, took place last night (12 November) at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, London.
The award was collected by Brett Tollman, CEO of The Travel Corporation, parent company of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, as well as more than 30 other leading travel brands.
Following a two-year restoration of the 800-year-old building, the hotel reopened to guests in April 2015, modernised and enhanced far beyond the requisite standards of a leading luxury hotel. A total of $75 million was spent on the intricate restoration, and has firmly re-established Ashford Castle as one of Europe’s most prestigious hotels.
The judging panel sought to recognise a hotel restoration that encompassed interior design, building use and a creative use of space. Ashford Castle, and the 350 acres in which it stands, required a complete overhaul of the infrastructure, parts of which date back to 1228, including treatment of the exterior stonework and repairs to the battlements to ensure their longevity for future generations. Approximately 1000m² of lead roofing, weighing approximately 30 tonnes, and hand cut by expert local leadworkers, was used to reinforce the roof. A total of 800 windows were replaced and all 68 guest rooms and 14 staterooms were either rebuilt or restored to include the finest and latest modern amenities while retaining the original features of the castle, which was once owned by Lord and Lady Ardilaun of the Guinness family, and has played host to royalty, celebrities and heads of state.
A number of impressive new facilities were also built including: a 32-seat cinema, a billiard room, cigar terrace, boutique shop and tea room, museum, children’s playroom, and conservatory which houses the all-new spa, gym and ozone-filtrated pool. An abandoned underground tunnel has been transformed into a wine cellar to be used for private parties and wine tastings.
Wherever possible, materials and pieces have been sourced from local artisans and suppliers to reflect the hotel’s unique environment and history. In true Red Carnation style, meticulous attention to detail has been used from start to finish, and a beautiful array of furnishings, art and antiques have been hand-selected to complete the luxurious feel of the hotel.
The monumental project was spearheaded by Beatrice Tollman, Founder and President of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, her daughter Toni Tollman, the Red Carnation Projects team, and architect Philippe Bonino. Mrs Tollman has enjoyed previous recognition at this prestigious ceremony, when she was awarded Hotelier of the Year in 2012.
Jonathan Raggett, Managing Director of The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, said:
“We are honoured that Ashford Castle has won Opening of the Year (Renovation and Conversion) at the 2015 European Hospitality Awards. At Red Carnation Hotels, our guest service proposition is ‘No request too large, no detail too small’ and actually this philosophy can be applied to everything we do, with the restoration of Ashford Castle being a prime example. Mrs Tollman and her team have employed such attention to detail, and shown great sensitivity to the Castle’s rich history. In doing so they have created such luxurious additions it has taken an already stunning hotel to a whole new level of excellence. We couldn’t be prouder to receive this recognition of the team’s creativity and hard work.”
The Opening of the Year (Renovation or Conversion) award from the European Hospitality Awards is the latest in a long list of accolades for The Red Carnation Hotel Collection, which includes recognition from the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards 2015, where Red Carnation featured heavily in the Best Hotels & Resorts in the World, Top Hotels in Europe and Top Hotels in London categories, among others. Ashford Castle was voted Best Hotel of the Year in the Virtuoso Awards 2015 and Hotel 41 is TripAdvisor’s number one hotel in London. Every hotel in the collection has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.
Established in 2010, The European Hospitality Awards recognises the best in the hotel industry across the continent, and the judges of the 2015 awards included Ted Tang, CEO of Leading Hotels of the World, Mark Wynne-Smith, Global CEO of Hotels & Hospitality Group and Michael Levie, CEO of CitizenM Hotels.