Does Ardee need a hotel? It’s an oft-asked question around the town and many feel it does – but Jim Tenanty believes a more outside-the-box solution could come to pass, following on innovative Italian concept of accommodation.
With a prospect of large-scale investment in a standalone hotel in the town slim, the Independent councillor believes there could be a more unique solution. He says towns across the country, including Boyle in Co Roscommon, are looking to implement a “scattered hotels” approach.
Based on ‘Albergo Diffuso’ – translated to English as ‘scattered hotel’ or ‘dispersed hotel’ – the innovative concept of hospitality sees four-star rooms run by individuals across an area, with a central reception and breakfast area open to all.
In Boyle, proposals are in place which would see four star accommodation provided in rooms over shops and in empty buildings in the town. Tenanty believes such a scheme would serve multiple purposes in Ardee – providing accomodation for visitors, filling empty premises and in turn helping to boost Ardee’s profile and economic prospects.
“The Castle would be an ideal location for a reception area, that would also serve as a tourist office. It would make a lot of sense,” Tenanty told ThisIsArdee.ie. “You’re talking three years down the line before you could do it anyway.”
“There’s at least 35 premises here that have upstairs facilities that are not being used. An incentive to do them up would be part responsibility of the council and the owners.
“I think it’s an excellent idea – instead of spending a big pile of money on a hotel and not knowing what the outcome is going to be. You’re getting a lot of jobs done,” he added. “Everybody that was at the meeting (on Wednesday) thought this was a fabulous idea, people from all over the country. This is nearly every town in the country – losing shops and people emigrating.”
Similarly to Ardee, locals in Boyle have previously spoken about their failure to adequately capatalise on nearby heritage attractions and they feel the scattered hotels approach is a unique and community-driven way to improve life in the town.
A Town Team committee in Boyle – set up to look into the feasability of this and other schemes – have made a case for grant aid of €1.3 million towards a first phase comprising 20 rooms, a fitted out reception area and a central hub. “I’m going to propose it,” Tenanty said.
The ‘Albergo Diffuso’ scattered hotels concept has boosted 40 Italian towns since it’s launch in the 1980s and 13 regions in the country have adopted legislation on it. Countries such as Croatia and Switzerland have also adopted the concept in their own country.
Tenanty returned from the mid-week meeting enthused with what he’d heard and he was invigorated by other ideas including parking solutions and mural paintings.
“They paint an area green and you can only park there for 90 minutes. That’s at parks and playgrounds – so it would be applicable at the Fairgreen in Ardee. If somebody parks there longer, you contact the Gardai. Even murals being painted on the wall. Laneways are used as incentives for people to go and open coffee shops or whatever.”