Ashford Castle shines in BBC’s ‘Amazing Hotels’

Posted in Connect on March 29, 2018.

FROM the Guinness to the Gibbons families, a rich tradition in Ashford Castle was showcased as it appeared on BBC Two’s ‘Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby’, last week.
The show saw presenters Giles Coren and Monica Galetti roll up their sleeves to work alongside staff at Ashford Castle Estate in Cong.
The show visits some of the most extraordinary hotels across the globe, and on last Tuesday’s instalment viewers got a glimpse into the workings of the Five Star hotel, voted the world’s best hotel in 2015.
Filming took place over four weeks last November.
Since its airing last week, Ashford Castle has reported a website crash and phones ‘ringing off the hook’.
“It’s been a huge success. Mr and Mrs Tollman have seen it and they loved it … there has been an unbelievable reaction to it, you never know how these things will pan out,” Restaurant and Wine Programme Manager Robert Bowe, told The Mayo News.

On the latest episode, the castle’s resident historian Fintan Gorman gave a detailed rundown of the estate’s history, from its foundation in 1228, to its ownership by the famous Guinness family and the troublesome time of other stately homes, such as Moorehall.
The programme detailed the castle’s fall from grace during the economic crash and its subsequent meteoric rise to the top of the hotel industry, under the new ownership of Beatrice and Stanley Tollman of Red Carnation Hotels.
General Manager Niall Rochford spoke glowingly of the owners who purchased the property after interest was shown by Russian oligarchs, and property moguls looking to ‘flip’ the property.
Before the takeover, Ashford employed 210 staff, now that number has rocketed to 420, and is cited as one of the biggest local employers in the area. It was revealed that during a seven-month renovation process, the owners kept staff on, while pouring €75m into the renovation process.
“Everything is new, bought at auction,” said Mrs Tollman on the show, adding, “We love it here because of the staff, over everything else, they are so dedicated.”
Juxtaposed against history lessons was a showcase of the standards of excellence at the hotel, including a glimpse at the thorough housekeeping routine by staff, including local woman, Sally Coyne, who hoovers the walls of rooms, which are made of fabric.

Family affair
Ashford’s tradition of family within its staff was also focused on with sisters Breedge O’Connor and Eleanor Browne working at the castle for the past 18 years, having interviewed and started on the same day and they also work the same hours.
Sally Coyne works alongside her daughter Mary and Mr Bowe introduced his son Stephen who works with him. Martin Gibbons explained that he has worked at the castle for 44 years, following in the footsteps of his father, and grandfather. Completing a tradition that spans four generations, Martin’s sons Stephen and Mark also work at the castle. Presenter Giles even went along to a local GAA match to support The Neale which has a number of players who work at the hotel.
According to Mr Bowe, the hotel gets many requests to feature in TV programmes and films, but cannot agree to many as it is so busy. The very popular period series ‘Reign’ was filmed there during the Castle’s renovations.

Mayo News – 27th March 2018

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