Splash out on five-star luxury just in time for Christmas

Tommy Barker on a five-star package at Sheen Falls Country Club.

THE first buyers are just inside the robust doors of their luxury holiday homes at Sheen Falls Country Club, handily in time for Christmas.

The natural setting, graced by some of this country’s best scenery and a spectacular series of waterfalls right on the edge of a top tourist town, is the key to hard-won success first for the Sheen Falls hotel, and now as a proven package and lure for the holiday homes emerging on its grounds. With the first phase of 13 contemporary-styled homes now in the final finishing stages, in the section called Mountain View, and the second phase well started, intending buyers can see very much at first hand what they’ll get — a real five-star package — for their considerable sums

Then the financial calculations behind the tax breaks will get minds whirring like Abacus beads, though of the 13 sales to date, eight have gone to private buyers for their own use, and only five to investors looking at strong rentals and tax breaks (up to €361,000 in allowances over ten years) on their investments.

Prices here are at the upper echelon of the holiday home market, ranging from €1.1 million to €1.4 million for the biggest and best. Agents are Sherry FitzGerald in Cork city, with Sherry FitzGerald Daly more locally, whilst the 20 new townhouses in a three-sided courtyard are priced at about €1 million each, rented via the hotel, are on offer with Fitzgerald Accountants in Kinsale.

Sizes across four types in Mountain View and Forest View range from 165 sq metres to 230 sq metres, with detailed and individualised site-specific design and orientation touches by Murray O Laoire Architects. Finishes include natural slate roofs, stone and lots of glazed areas for the great views. They’ve been fully fitted and finished to the five-star (and beyond) standards, with quality sanitary ware, great kitchens, and a high audio/IT spec as well.

Mountain View, has been delivered by Cork-based McCarthy Developments as a sort of upper-market calling card for their future schemes as well, and subsequent phases such as Forest View (where five houses have been started) are being done jointly with the Danish Hoyer family, owners of the Sheen Falls Lodge five-star hotel and owners of its 300 acres of widely-diverse land. (The hotel’s founder, Bent Hoyer, who reportedly bought the site ‘unseen’, marked his 80th birthday at Sheen last month).

The setting, as Hoyer spotted, is the star at Sheen Falls, on the edge of Kenmare Bay. The hotel was built around the original 1600s Lansdowne Lodge just below the 1777-built Sheen Bridge, and curves around to follow the river’s flow and spate: every bedroom, as a result, has a view.

The falls vary with the weather, drying to a trickle in summer, and rising to foaming cataracts in winter, and a hour’s heavy rain will rise the river by several feet. The hotel manager swears the story is true about an American guest asking ‘could they be turned off?’, after a particularly heavy spell, as the noise was keeping him from his sleep!

There is a second set of falls, possibly noisier, a mile or so up the Sheen river.

It’s even more dramatic, and there are already scenic walks up and down the river with more running and cycling trials being put in place.

The Country Club package, built so far on the back of the hotel’s existing and future facilities, is an evolving one, with plans afoot for a new leisure centre for holiday home occupants. It will be separate to the hotel’s own pool and gym, says developer Tom McCarthy jnr who has been driving the scheme. The final make-up will probably depend on, and be tailored to the requests and demands of the houses’ buyers and users.

Country Club activities billed include tennis, croquet, fishing, horse riding, clay pigeon shooting and fitness centre, plus golf at the nearby Kenmare Golf Club. Many others will be lured by the hotel’s two restaurants and the wine cellar, said to be the largest public wine cellar in Ireland.

Then, there’s the really posh stuff of holiday home lore, such as the optional evening bed turndown service, secretarial services, chef/butler service for private dining in your own home and clearing after departure. No more tedious bed stripping, sorting the dehumidifier and setting the mousetraps, as experienced by the nonetheless privileged owners of more mundane and older Irish holiday homes.

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