Adare Manor with its new addition.
Ireland Hopping | Margaret M. Johnson
Following a nearly two-year ground breaking restoration, refurbishment and expansion, Adare Manor, one of Ireland’s leading five-star hotels, reopened last Thursday in the heart of picturesque Adare Village in County Limerick. The largest restoration project of its kind in Ireland, the transformation honors the building’s architectural heritage as a Neo-Gothic masterpiece while incorporating the latest in contemporary luxury.
I missed the opening by a mere seven days but was lucky enough to get a media tour during the hotel’s “soft opening” weekend for friends and family, ”trip advisors,” if you will, who were invited there to make sure that the manor would be 100 percent ready for guests on November 2: Is the bedding soft enough? Is the water hot enough? Is the food up to snuff? Is the spa really relaxing? How are the views? Chances are they were as impressed as I was with all the manor has to offer, and after two stays there in the 1990s, I found it nearly impossible to see where the old manor ended and the new one began.
The hotel is set on an 842-acre estate surrounding by medieval ruins, walled gardens and winding woodland paths. It was the ancestral home of the 2nd Earl of Dunraven, who transformed a typical Georgian mansion on the banks of the Maigue River into a romantic Neo-Gothic mansion. It was built to the highest standards of the day by craftspeople from the village of Adare and nearby areas based on designs from a succession of fashionable architects and interior designers who were involved in its transformation.
Although the original work began on Adare Manor in the 19th century, its architectural style was heavily influenced by the castles, churches and manor houses of the medieval period. This Gothic revival style featured decorative and intricate arched windows typical of medieval churches, and much of the decoration on the exterior of the building recalls this period with a display of gargoyles and grotesques, window surrounds and heraldry. An example of a rare “Calendar House,” Adare Manor is still adorned with 365 leaded windows, 52 ornate chimneys, 7 stone pillars and 4 towers to mark the annual tally of days, weeks and seasons.
The new work on the manor was completed over the two-year period thanks to upward of 800 workers, many of whom returned to Ireland from abroad to work on the project. The latest transformation, spearheaded by London architects ReardonSmith, involved internal finishes, furniture and woodwork, and the repairing of external stonework and windows. Honoring the building’s architectural heritage as a Neo-Gothic masterpiece, the new Adare Manor embodies the hotel’s signature style, while incorporating contemporary luxuries and technological conveniences to meet the needs of today’s luxury traveller.
And the details: The Hotel features 104 guestrooms, including the original 62 bedrooms in the Manor House and River Wing, and the new 42-bedroom West Wing, each with a spacious marble bathroom. The Spa is the first in Ireland and the UK to utilise the skincare brand La Mer in its customized facial treatments. The Ballroom features a sweeping staircase, marble floor and crystal chandeliers with a capacity of 80 to 350 people to host the most lavish weddings (30 already booked for 2018!). A 30-seat Executive Boardroom and 27-seat Cinema complement the event capabilities. At the epicurean helm is Loughlin Druhan, Director of Culinary, overseeing operations for the resort’s dining spaces including signature restaurant The Oak Room, The Carriage House, The Gallery, The Drawing Room and The Tack Room; Michael Tweedie is head chef. The Golf Course, designed by Tom Fazio, will debut in spring 2018. Rates for a classic room with breakfast start at $350.00; www.adaremanor.com.