Thursday May 21st saw Sandymount Hotel mark its 60th year in operation. The hotel, founded by the Loughran family in 1955, celebrated its birthday in style on its own grounds with a six-player youth orchestra performing at an event which saw between 200 and 300 guests revel in the festivities.
The day itself brought together a variety of people who have contributed to the hotel over the years, including family, staff, customers and suppliers past and present. Although the hotel’s official anniversary is May 2nd, the date was pushed back to one that suited everybody.
Sandymount Hotel is now the longest-running family-operated hotel in Dublin, with the majority of other family hotels being either corporate or bank-owned.
The hotel’s story began 60 years ago when John’s parents, George and Rosaleen Loughran, originally from the North but living in rented accommodation on Tritonville Road, took out a bank loan to purchase a house on Herbert Road, then the very personification of the aristocratic residential area.
The first house served as a bed and breakfast initially, containing only four bedrooms. From then on, the hotel expanded on a phased basis over a 30 to 40 year period, with the Loughrans procuring a second property in 1960, forming the first block of the modern hotel. The hotel now consists of eight separate properties, with bedrooms being added at various stages.Famous faces have never been strangers to the hotel, with Princess Grace of Monaco residing there in the early 1970s, and more recently beloved Irish celebrities such as Dermot Morgan.
Owner John Loughran spoke to NewsFour about his vivid memories of the family of President Erskine Childers seeking refuge in the hotel for six months. The family had been required to vacate Áras an Uachtaráin in the wake of the President’s death in November 1974.
“In the 60-year history, the hotel has housed between 1.2 to 1.4 million people and around 2,500 staff over the years, a lot of whom would be locally based,” Loughran told NewsFour.
Sport has also played a crucial role in the hotel’s history and identity throughout the years. Sandymount Hotel have always worked closely with local schools, and sponsor the Marian College basketball team, and even provide accommodation for athletes on exchange programmes from the United States.
The hotel has a distinct connection to rugby, and they host the international rugby media within their walls. Many rugby teams have stayed in the hotel, including the Irish Women’s rugby team after their victory in this year’s Six Nations.
With John’s son Gerard now looking after the day-to-day operations in the hotel as general manager, the hotel is now entering into its third generation of the Loughran family, with John currently serving as director. John spoke about the importance of the family component in this line of work.
“There’s something unique about this hotel as it is a family business,” John says. “I’m one of five kids, and together with my siblings in the summertime, we would all have slept in one room as our bedrooms were let out. We would have had to wash dishes, make beds, do whatever needed to be done.”
Like many businesses, the hotel suffered the economic fallout of the 2008 recession. To add insult to injury, their industry also had to deal with the trend of ‘zombie hotels’, hotels offering the lowest rates possible, which had negative effects on many other hotels in the sector.
Sandymount Hotel struggled for a number of years but turned a corner in mid-2012 and now the hotel is performing very strongly once again. In the last six to eight months alone, €1.8 million has been spent on refurbishment, a programme they intend to follow for the next few years, which includes the addition of 60 bedrooms, conference facilities and other projects.
“Hopefully we will still be around in another 60 years!” John added.
By Craig Kinsella