2007 Award Winners HOTEL OF THE YEAR 2007
Mount Juliet Conrad, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny
Lying amidst 1500 acres of unspoilt woodland, pasture and formal gardens beside the River Nore, our Hotel of the Year is one of Ireland’s finest Georgian houses - and one of Europe’s greatest country estates. Even today it retains an aura of eighteenth century grandeur, as the elegance of the old house has been painstakingly preserved and - in strong contrast to the competitive masculinity of the K Club, with which it would be more or less on a par as a golfing destination - it is serene and restful, with a uniquely feminine atmosphere.
But there is much more to this wonderfully relaxing hotel than golf: it is perfectly located for exploring one of Ireland's most beautiful inland areas, and there is an unequalled choice of things to do on the estate: gardens and woodlands to wander, new sports to try, the Spa & Health Club for pampering. A new equestrian centre was under way as we went to press, and the hotel offers Master Classes in a number of disciplines, including fishing, painting, salsa and wellness.
And, with all that fresh air and exercise to build up a healthy appetite, great food is another of the pleasures that Mount Juliet has to offer, with a choice of fine dining in the beautiful Lady Helen Dining Room or smart-casual meals in the stylish Kendals restaurant at Hunters Yard. Eugene McSweeney, well known in his former life as proprietor-chef of Lacken House in Kilkenny and a previous Féile Bia award winner, has been acting executive head chef at Mount Juliet during this last year, and not only building on the hotel’s existing reputation for fine food, but also training up a strong young team to take over in due course.
This is a wonderful, restorative place – and gives out all the right messages about the way to experience the very best in contemporary Ireland.
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