The reopening of the 56-bed hotel in the centre of Cahirsiveen is one of a number of new and existing businesses helping to transform the tourism potential of the imposing coastal stretch from Waterville to Ballinskelligs.
To be renamed The Skellig Star, the hotel’s reopening later this month comes as preparations continue in the months ahead for the opening of the new Hogs Head Golf Club, south of nearby Waterville.
Millions of euro have been ploughed by its US owners into the Ballinskelligs Bay 150-acre course where play is scheduled to begin next year.
It’s the first course in Ireland to be completed by the architecture firm of Robert Trent Jones II which also incorporates a hotel.
Surrounded by farmland, it has magnificent views of the Atlantic seascape and the Macgillicuddy’s Reeks.
“We have incorporated all the great elements of golf that people seek when they come to Ireland,” said RTJ II chairman and master architect Robert Trent Jones Jr.
“Hogs Head is a golf course that will fascinate you and hold your interest every time you play it,” he said.
The coastal area has, also, benefited significantly in the past few years by the filming of Star Wars on nearby Skellig Michael.
The Skellig Star, meanwhile, was formerly the Watermarque hotel and leisure centre which had been built during the boom years on a Presentation Convent site.
The hotel closed in 2009. It is now owned by a group of Irish and Chinese investors who also have interests in hotels in counties Dublin, Waterford and Wexford.
Hotel manager Fiona Dunne said the new name reflects the south Kerry area’s global status as a “dark sky reserve”, as well as the other heritage and big screen elements.
The €3m upgrade involves adjoining apartments, function rooms and additional facilities. A staff recruitment day was held Thursday with the core facilities scheduled for opening in mid-to-late July.
Alan Landers, honorary director of the local, community-backed, development company Acard, said south Kerry “is on the way back” after years of stagnation and population loss.
“This is fantastic for Cahersiveen,” Mr Landers said as the new town centre hotel nears completion works. He believes other up-market accommodation is also coming on stream which will ensure many of the golfers who bus up and down to Killarney will be spending at least one night in the spectacular south Kerry area.
Meanwhile, an application has been lodged in recent weeks with Kerry County Council for the demolition of the Cable O’Leary’s Hotel, an old 12-bedroom hotel on the shoreline in Ballinskelligs.
The hotel was built in 1894 at the height of the transatlantic cable connection to the US when south Kerry with its radio and engineering college, fish factories and railway was a commercial hub.
“The proposal is to construct 48 bedrooms, bar, restaurant and shop which will return the hotel to use as a provider of high-quality accommodation,” says Malachy Walsh, agents for owner Kevin O’Sullivan.