County tees up for golf resort boom

TYPICAL. You wait for years for a tourism project like a five-star hotel and golf course, holiday lodges dotted along the fairways, plus a spa...and then two come along almost at once.

The €70 million Castlmartyr Resort and Golf Club, under construction, was launched yesterday in east Cork by Tourism Minister John O’Donoghue, with the 104-bed hotel due to be open by year’s end at the east Cork village estate. It will be followed by a Ron Kirby-designed golf course in summer 2007.

But, in a coincidental twist, the new five-star Sheraton Fota Island Golf Resort and Spa opens officially today for hotel guest business, as part of a massive e140m investment by the Fleming Group.

Up to 2,000 people worked on the 130-bed Fota hotel and holiday lodges site in the past month to prepare for today’s grand unveiling.

That scheme includes a new second golf course (nine holes) on Fota Island, a golf academy, and 278 holiday lodges to be let via the Sheraton Hotel.

But, adding even further to the sudden surge in east Cork’s good fortunes, and following hot on Fota’s heels, is a €70m tourism investment at the former Carmelite College in Castlemartyr, undertaken by leading developers John F Supple, set for a €100m company turnover this year.

Set to employ 300 full-time workers when completed, it will have a 104-bed luxury hotel, to be run by US-based Capella Hotels and Resorts, as well as a spa, 42 golf lodges, a mews development and 18-hole golf course.

The 220-acre site, centred around an historic period home, was bought in 2002 for around e4m.

A fast-track construction schedule promises to have the hotel open by December, and operators Capella are also involved in the €60m, 70-bed luxury hotel now under construction at the opposite end of Co Cork at the ruined Dunboy Castle in Castletownshend.

Capella, run by Horst Schulze who previously was president of the leading Ritz-Carlton group, says the Capella Hotels & Resort brand “was designed for top-tier travellers who desire fine architecture and interior design, privacy, individualised service, attention to detail and, most of all, enriching and one-of-a-kind experiences”. Or, two-of-a kind in Capella’s own case in Co Cork, east and west. Or, three-of-a-kind if Sheraton Fota hits, as expected, the top-notch mark as well.

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