Staycity Aparthotels is the new sponsor of Dublin GAA, with its logo appearing on all senior, minor and juvenile team shirts for the next five years. It is one of the biggest sponsorship deals of the year, taking over from AIG but who are the new sponsors, taking a first step into the Irish sporting scene.
The business was founded in 2004, the same year as Facebook. A few years earlier Tom Walsh and his new bride were looking for a home in Dublin and settled on an apartment in Temple Bar that had previously been a recording studio hosting U2 and Sinéad O’Connor.
They had kids and needed to move to a larger space but they did not want to just sell the apartment so together with Tom’s brother Ger they set up a website to rent the apartment and within a few weeks they had their first booking.
Art the time Dublin GAA was nine years into a drought of All Ireland wins that would last another seven years for the Men’s footballers. The Women were still six years away from their first All Ireland title.
The business grew quickly and survived the economic crash that was to land in its first five years, as well as the Covid years. Clearly the fundamentals are right and now it is a business that spans Europe.
It currently has 26 Aparthotels operating under the Staycity and premium Wilde brands.
In Dublin it has properties at Dublin Castle, Christchurch, City Quay, Mark Street and on the site of the old Tivoli Theatre in the Liberties.
It is also visible in Covent Garden, Paddington, Greenwich and Aldgate in London; at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin; in the West End and Grassmarket in Edinburgh; Gare de l’Est, La Defense and near Disneyland in Paris as well as in Birmingham, Bordeaux, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Liverpool, Manchester, Marseille and Venice.
Turnover at the business was €175 million in its most recent annual accounts and it says it is on target to hit €230 million in 2023. It has opened 12 new properties since 2021 and is continuing to expand with new properties in Amsterdam, Cambridge, Munich, Lisbon and Porto on the cards for 2024, and new properties secured for development at Stratford in London and in Nuremberg.
There are around 10,000 apartments in the portfolio now, the model being apartment living but with the facilities of a hotel including a reception, café, gym and central location.
Two people could stay in an apartment on City Quay or in the Liberties in Dublin next year on the night before the All Ireland Football Final for a cost of €260.
There has been some criticism on social media that taking on sponsorship from a short let operator at a time when property is at a premium is somehow wrong but this is a long term deal linking an irish success story in sport with one in business and that can only be a good thing.
Tom Walsh and his Brother Ger are still running the business as Board members alongside Wayne Arthur, Paul Dowling, Patrick Dempsey, Sarah Hickey, Stephen Vernon James George and Marie Joyce.