Originally Capella Castlemartyr, this luxurious East Cork hotel is now run by an Irish team under the management of Andrew Phelan (formerly at Mount Juliet).
They inherited a fantastically spacious, well-appointed (and high profile) hotel and, with genuine hospitality to complement the luxury, this fine property is now delivering on its early promise.
Built around a 17th century manor house and the ruins of an adjacent castle that belonged to the Knights Templar and dates back to 1210, it’s an impressive property by any standards. Entering through old gates in the centre of Castlemartyr village and then skirting the edge of the 18-hole Ron Kirby-designed golf course, arriving guests get a hint of the lush variety to be found in the 220-acre estate.
The driveway leads past the ancient castle to the beautiful entrance of the old house, which was once owned by Sir Walter Raleigh (who later sold it to the Earl of Cork, Richard Boyle) and includes among its special features a ballroom declared ‘the best room in Ireland’ by the 18th century travel chronicler Arthur Young and now fully restored.
Just eleven of the hotel’s 103 guest rooms and suites are in the old house and very lovely there are too, in a timelessly classical style. The rest are in a new section alongside it which is uncompromisingly modern, yet sits surprisingly comfortably beside the elegance of the old; however, due to the low-rise design, corridors are extremely long and any guest with mobility problems (or a tendency to leave things in the car) should ensure a room as near reception as possible.
Accommodation is predictably luxurious - the new rooms are vast, ranging from a mere 500 sq ft to a Presidential Suite of over 3,000 sq ft and they sport correspondingly enormous beds and fully marbled bathrooms, all with separate bath and shower – and all the expected technological bells and whistles, including a central computer system that controls all the room functions from the bedside.
Resort facilities include an impressive leisure centre and spa and numerous activities are offered, both onsite and nearby. The hotel has close links with the Old Midleton Distillery and other highlights in the area include Cobh ('the Queenstown story'), Fota Island (Fota House, Arboretum & Gardens; Fota Wildlife Park) and the East Cork Food Trail, which includes the Ballymaloe Cookery School & Gardens.
The Castlemartyr Resort has luxurious amenities and, while value for money is still a feature, the emphasis back to service and quality – genuine warmth and friendliness are noticeable from the moment of arrival, followed through by discreet, professional service in all areas. Guests are made to feel very special throughout their stay and this is a place for real people, where families (and their pets) are made especially welcome.
Rooms 103 (5 suites, 20 junior suites, 72 executive, 6 family, 8 disabled); room only rate €160 (with breakfast €180). Lift; room service (limited hours); turndown service; children welcome (under 12s free in parents’ room, cot available without charge); laptop safe; broadband; business centre; secretarial services; conference/banqueting (250/200); golf; leisure centre (incl gym & pool); spa. Dogs permitted in certain areas (charge). Heli-Pad. Parking (200).
Self Catering In addition to the accommodation and amenities offered at the hotel, the Castlemartyr Resort offers guests the option of staying at the 42 contemporary Golf Lodges (built within the old walled garden, and with direct access to the golf course) and 10 cottagey Mews Residences in the 'Old Bawn' area of the castle (click this link Self Catering Lodges for details). NB: The self catering accommodation is run separately from the hotel and, unfortunately, perts are not allowed.
Executive head chef Kevin Burke oversees a choice of dining options, ranging from evening fine dining in The Bell Tower restaurant, to an all-day lounge menu in Knight's Bar and informal meals at The Castlemartyr Links at the clubhouse. Traditional Afternoon Tea is popular, and can be served on the Garden Terrace in fine weather.
A dinner in the elegantly appointed Bell Tower restaurant is normally included in the various breaks offered by the hotel; a menu offering perhaps seven dishes on each course is offered while you have an aperitif in the beautiful bar (the restored ballroom).
Balanced menus include the expected popular dishes – scallops, and pan-fried foie gras may be among the starters for example, and there is sure to be a good steak – but there will also be some more unusual choices; main courses will include several imaginative fish dishes and, perhaps, an assiette of pork combining several cuts cooked in various ways.
Each dish is individually garnished, with combinations carefully considered, and the ‘smaller’ dishes can be especially rewarding. Finish, if you are lucky, with an exquisitely flavoured dessert of prunes in Armagnac, served with vanilla ice cream and sponge fingers.
Details, such as excellent breads, enhance the overall experience, as does discreetly anticipatory service and knowledgeable wine service.
The wine list is extensive and includes a good choice of house wines (all available by the glass), half bottles and extra large bottles - magnums and a jeraboam - as well as the main list which includes many interesting bottles at accessible prices. Time spent familiarising yourself with it will be rewarding, although it is a pity there are no tasting notes.