- Ballyfin Demense wins AA Hotel of the Year 2018
- Twelve Hotel, Barna, wins AA Courtesy & Care Award
- Aldridge Lodge, Duncannon wins AA Guest Accommodation Award
Ballyfin Demense has been named as the AA Hotel of the Year 2018, the most prestigious prize in the Irish hospitality industry. Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross, TD presented the award to General Manager Damien Bastiat in a ceremony held in Dublin on Wednesday, 25th April.
The 35,000 square-foot Ballyfin mansion on 614 acres near Mountrath became a five-Star country house hotel in 2011, having formerly served as a Patrician Brothers school and, historically, the home of the Coote family. It has 20 rooms and takes a maximum of 39 guests at a time. Conde Nast Traveler placed it first in its 2016 list of best hotels in the world, Actor Richard E. Grant says it’s his favourite hotel in the world and Kim Kardashian and Kanye West spent their honeymoon there in 2014.
- The hotel has a collection of 18th century costumes from the Chicago Lyric Opera House, so guests can choose to come to dinner dressed in the appropriate clothing from when the house was built.
- A reception room simply titled ‘The Gold Room’ features a huge chandelier previously owned by Napoleon Bonaparte’s sister and an 18th century portrait of the four Coote children that takes up an entire wall, which the owners bought from a descendant of the family.
- A Coote family member passed on much of the original dinner service and silver, which joins one of the world’s largest collections of Flora Donica porcelain in the china room.
- The 80ft library houses 4,000 books and is book-ended by two large fireplaces.
- The grounds include an 18th century tower restored from ruin which you can see 12 counties from when standing in its turret.
AA Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan said “Ballyfin Demense has, in its short history, become one of the finest hotels in Ireland, and perhaps one of the finest hotels in the world, a fact which only serves to highlight the impressive nature of the hospitality industry in Ireland. It takes a lot to impress our AA inspectors and to reach the standards required to win Hotel of the Year requires years of dedication to putting the customer first. Our eagle-eyed inspectors lfollow the most stringent inspection standards in the industry. Beyond the beauty and scenery that Ballyfin Demense has to offer, it also boasts a friendly and highly professional staff who ensure every customer has a first class experience. We are proud to name Ballyfin Demense as our AA Hotel of the Year for 2018.”
Other major award winners at the AA ceremony this evening were:
AA Guest Accommodation of the Year: Aldridge Lodge, Duncannon, Co. Wexford: Since opening in 2005, Billy Whitty’s & Joanne Harding’s Aldridge Lodge has received numerous awards and critical acclaim. This small restaurant and guest accommodation is holder of a prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2007, two AA Rosettes for food since 2016, 4 AA Stars for the guest rooms and has won many Food and Wine Magazine awards and Sunday Independent Life Magazine awards to mention but a few.
AA Courtesy & Care Award: The Twelve Hotel, Barna, Co. Galway. The Courtesy & Care award is a testament to excellence in customer care executed by hospitality staff and is not granted lightly. It is a reflection of the staff at an establishment rather than the buildings and grounds. An honour of a personal nature, the AA Courtesy & Care award reflects an establishment in which an AA Inspector would choose to stay themselves or to bring their own families.
Minister for Tourism Shane Ross said: “Congratulations to Ballyfin Demense on winning AA Hotel of the Year, an impressive and thoroughly deserved honor. The story of Irish tourism over the last 10 years has been one of hard work and perseverance to get through the troubled times of the economic downturn in order to come out the other side as a thriving industry. Ballyfin Demense, with its welcoming staff and steep history only highlights the best of what the hospitality industry offers to visitors from at home and abroad. The AA inspection team was impressed with the warmth and welcome from all the team, which the AA’s head inspector describing a stay at Ballyfin as akin to “being in a private home, with the atmosphere of a period Irish house with all the facilities of a five star resort. With 20 rooms and suites, it is a very special place that has won many international awards in its short history. Cuisine is an important element of the Ballyfin experience, with daily created menus together with suggested wine pairings, many featuring the Bordeaux estates of the Irish ‘Wine Geese.”
General Manager Damien Bastiat said “We are very proud to gain this recognition for the hard work our team put in every day. It’s a real testament to the Ballyfin ethos and to the beautiful property we are lucky enough to work in.
AA Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan said The AA inspectors personally visit every AA accredited hotel for an overnight stay. The assessments of the standards of hospitality, service, cuisine, facilities and staff are the most exacting in the industry. Winners are selected in recognition of excellence in service and hospitality. They must also clearly demonstrate continuous improvement in the previous 12-18 months. For a hotel to be considered it must have displayed excellence over time. A hotel that wins AA Hotel of the Year can claim to be the best hotel in Ireland in its category. The award does not necessarily go to a five star hotel, although it does this year.