Ask the Manager – Martin Mangan, GM, Carton House, A Fairmont Managed Property

Career history

Martin Mangan is a graduate of Cornell in Ithaca, New York. Before joining Carton House, a Fairmont managed property, in 2021, he was General Manager of the Conrad Dublin from 2008. He is a former president of the Irish Hospitality Institute (IHI), and past chairman of the Dublin branch of the Irish Hotels Federation.

Ask the Manager – Martin Mangan, Carton House, A Fairmont Managed Property

 Who owns Carton House Resort?  

Irish American businessman, John Mullen purchased Carton House, Co. Kildare, in 2017. Mr. Mullen’s parents are from Co. Mayo. He was the founder of Apple Leisure Corporation, one of the biggest travel companies in the United States.  

What changes have been made since the purchase?  

The hotel has undergone a master restoration and renovation both externally and internally before it reopened on 2 June 2021. The work involved conservation architects and specialist restorers as the main house is a listed and historic building. “We tried to restore as much possible of the existing fabric and interiors of the hotel,” said Mr. Mangan. 

The front entrance was moved to make space for the Courtyard Bar and relaxation area; most of the dining is now in the historic house.

Dining At Carton House

Fine dining moved to the lofty Morrison Room, one of the finest hotel dining rooms in Ireland, with gold-leafed ceiling decorations and carved marble fireplaces.  

Casual dining is in the old kitchen, now called Kathleen’s Kitchen where it retains the iron ovens used in the past; copper pots and pans hang from vast ceiling. It has an open kitchen where you can see the chefs at work. 

The Duke’s Rest, an octagonal quirky wine room –formerly the game hanging room– is filled with wine racks, and is now used for wine tastings and small gatherings. Three wines with cheese and charcuterie cost €45 per person. The old Library is now the Whiskey Library with a wide range of whiskies to enjoy.

Afternoon tea is served in the finest room in any hotel in Ireland, the Gold Salon. As its name suggests, it is dripping with the exuberantly decorated Baroque stucco gold ceiling and walls. This is the finest example of work by the famous Lafranchini Brothers. There is even a restored organ in this room.

Afternoon Tea in the Gold Salon

There is a casual dining outlet in the Carriage House and if anyone is wondering what happened to the Linden Tree restaurant, it is now a self-contained area for weddings, conferences and events, with its own outdoor spaces and facilities.  

How will the relationship with Fairmont Hotels benefit Carton House  

The luxury global brand Fairmont operates in over 80 destinations worldwide, and we are delighted to be working with such a prestigious company. Carton House will be the most historic house in the Fairmont Collection and as part of Accor, they have worldwide distribution and it is a globally recognised brand.  

As a Fairmont Managed property, Carton House will be able to to penetrate the previously hard to access market. It will enable us to put Carton House on the global stage alongside other iconic Fairmont Managed properties such as The Savoy in London and The Plaza in New York. Carton House is now the finest five-star golf resort closest to Dublin. “We are only 30 minutes from Dublin Airport and the city,” Mr. Mangan said.  

Who is managing the golf courses?  

Fairmont manages the two golf courses, the O’Meara and the Montgomerie, for and on behalf of the Mullen Family. “As far as competitions are concerned, we are very keen in the future to host a major tournament once again,” said Mr. Mangan. Carton House has hosted the Irish Open Golf Championship, three times. 

Describe how Carton House is a multi-activity resort?  

Carton House is not only a golf resort; it is one of the very few historical monuments you can visit and stay in. Eleven of the suites are in the original historic house. The resort in its entirety is a walled estate comprising 1,100 acres encompassing two championship golf courses, the hotel, manor house, extensive woodlands, walkways, fishing, boating, equestrian, spa, health club, falconry, a wedding venue, meeting, and event facilities, team building activities, sports facilities and numerous food and beverage offerings.  

Getting five-star status will require a higher level of staffing – is this an issue for Carton House?  

Yes, staffing levels have increased to enable us to deliver a luxury service in line with our newly acquired five-star status across all areas of the resort. Carton House joined the ranks of Ireland’s five-star hotels in December 2021.

Many of our team who joined us in the past year are very excited to work for a global luxury brand and the reimagined Carton House and this has certainly helped us attract our talented team members.  

Staffing and recruiting of our team was a key priority and I am happy to say whilst it has been a challenging period for the industry, we have been very fortunate in our recruitment efforts. More importantly, is the retention of our team which is a focus for us along with creating the right environment for our team to develop and grow. 

The Chinese Boudoir prepared for Queen Victoria’s stay at Carton House

How is business doing, do you feel optimistic for this year? 

When the Taoiseach made the announcement on 20 January, we saw an uplift in business and would be optimistic for a good year. It is also good to see weddings returning to the hotel; a number of wedding bookings that had to be postponed will be happening in an even nicer Carton House.  

What are the plans for the future at Carton House?  

Carton House will continue to evolve and we are currently working on a number of plans at present. It is too early to share any details at this point, but our focus is to keep improving and developing the resort. 

Joan Scales
Award-winning journalist, Joan has been writing about travel and tourism for many years principally for The Irish Times and lately for travel2ireland. Joan has appeared many times on television and radio talking about the business of travel and all its component strands. She is also a public speaker and has appeared at many international conventions and conferences.

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