Even if there is nary root nor branch of your family tree that extends to the Emerald Isle, everyone should claim a little Irish heritage in 2013 during the year of The Gathering.
Dating to 1228, Ashford Castle fits everyone’s fantasy of a medieval fortress, with soaring turrets, breathtaking views of Lough Corrib and a resident ghost. Once owned by the Guinness family, it opened as a hotel in 1939. Its rooms and suites boast traditional design, with original features carefully restored, plus the modern amenities of a luxury hotel. The rural setting accommodates a host of outdoor activities, including fly-fishing, golf, horseback riding, and hawk flying overseen by Ireland’s first school of falconry. The hotel’s historical details and sprawling grounds make it a romantic getaway for couples, who can relax in the treatment rooms or dine in their choice of two restaurants, the elegant George V Restaurant or the traditional “Cullen’s at the Cottage.” From now until the end of the year, guests can celebrate their own Gathering with the Mayo Mafia Package. Priced from EUR 225 per night, the offer includes accommodation in a Corrib room, full Irish breakfast daily, a five-course gourmet dinner in the award-winning George V restaurant one evening, and an array of generous discounts for a variety of activities, museums and venues in the region. A two-night minimum stay is required.
A sojourn at Adare Manor is like a trip in a time machine. The hotel occupies an 18th-century castle that was once the private home of the second earl of Dunraven, an architectural masterpiece of towers, turrets and stonework. Equally stunning are the natural surroundings, including 840 acres of gardens and parkland. Deeply rooted in history, the resort offers such modern-day amenities as a the Oakroom restaurant, where Chef Mark Donohue takes a contemporary Irish approach to classical dishes made from local produce, Elemis spa treatment rooms and an eighteen-hole championship golf course, the last major work of the legendary Robert Trent Jones. Other activities combine old-world pursuits with modern instruction: guests can take lessons in archery, falconry and skeet shooting, or take off on a horse or a hike. There are also daily historical tours that reveal the mysteries of this neo-Gothic manor with its 365 stained glass windows, stone gargoyles and engraved stone walls. Or guests can meet locals from the charming thatched-roof village of Adare over traditional Irish music and a pint or two at the Tackroom, the cellar bar in the Manor House.
Killarney Park Hotel
Nestled in the heart of Killarney Kerry, a spectacular region renowned for its famed golf courses and natural beauty, The Killarney Park Hotel is an ideal base for exploring. A luxurious home-away-from-home, the hotel is family-friendly, welcoming children, and keeping them entertained with special events, picnics and arts-and crafts classes, plus a play area, tennis courts and an indoor swimming pool. Adults can relax in the extensive spa, offering Elemis and Eve Lom treatments, with its hydrotherapy suite, caldarium and outdoor hot tub; and enjoy romantic dinners at the elegant Park Restaurant, where they can savor traditional Irish cuisine with a contemporary twist (babysitters are available on request). Everyone can take advantage of day trips, from walks and horseback rides through the picturesque 25,000-acre National Park to tours of Ross Castle and Muckross House and Gardens. As befits its location in such natural splendor, The Killarney Park has won awards for its environmentally sensitive management.
Since its opening, The Merrion in central Dublin, has established itself as the epitome of relaxed grandeur, welcoming Dubliners and visitors to the city with stunningly appointed rooms, crackling turf fires and a host of facilities. The restoration of this luxurious property – fashioned from four meticulously restored Georgian Townhouses – demanded the highest standards, and as a result guest rooms and suites are the epitome of elegance, as well as being supremely inviting and comfortable. The hotel’s dedication to excellence in dining is evident, from the impeccable cuisine in The Cellar Restaurant, relaxed gastronomic fare in The Cellar Bar, a light lunch on The Terrace, to gourmet selections in the two star Michelin Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud. A refined retreat The Tethra Spa is an ideal place to unwind, restore and to invigorate the body and mind, offering gentle interiors, advanced fitness equipment, an infinity swimming pool, steam room and luxurious spa treatment areas.
The Westbury Hotel
With an unbeatable location just off Dublin’s Grafton Street, half-way between historic Trinity College and the landmark that is Stephen’s Green, The Westbury Hotel is at the very heart of the city’s premier retail and cultural quarter. Great shopping, atmospheric pubs and restaurants, and excellent theatres and nightlife are literally on your doorstep. The hotel itself is high on the list of city attractions, especially in its famous Gallery, where guests savor traditional afternoon tea. In addition, the Westbury is home to one of Ireland’s most stunning privately-held art collections, including pieces by Sir John Lavery and Louis le Brocquy. Throughout the rest of the year, the hotel is inviting visitors to Celebrate Your Roots with a special offer that includes full breakfast daily, an Irish coffee, a guided visit to Trinity College with its famous Book of Kells Exhibition; a visit to the Writers Museum; two tickets to a performance at the legendary Abbey Theatre; and a discount on purchases at the Heraldic Arts genealogy store. Rates start at EUR 278 per night, single or double occupancy. A two-night stay is required.
Forming part of a distinctly different urban concept and located with some of Dublin’s most iconic new architectural landmarks, The Marker is the city’s newest, luxury design hotel located on Grand Canal Square in the heart of the city’s vibrant business and cultural quarter. The perfect retreat for those who crave the unconventional, yet still expect exceptional standards, the hotel’s architecture draws on the nature of the Irish landscape, combined with a sleek urban aesthetic. This elemental style is carried right through from the impressive ground floor cocktail bar and brasserie, and the unique geometric layouts of the rooms and suites, to the rooftop garden with views across the cityscape to the natural beauty of the mountains and the sea. The wellness spa boasts a stunning infinity pool – a genuine sanctuary for guests and a rare find in such a central city location.