Five-star luxury and thatched Irish houses don’t normally go hand in hand – with the latter, you normally take the rough (and sometimes uncombed) with the smooth.
In the case of Kenmare’s Villa Verde, however, it’s sort of five-star hotel smooth all the way. After all, this reed-roofed whopper was dressed to impress, by the Hoyer family team originally behind the Sheen Falls Lodge, the top Kerry hotel, which changed hands just last year, acquired by an Irish/UK consortium called Palladian for c €5 million.
There were three of these over-sized thatches built by the Danish Hoyer family over a decade ago, on a separate gated adjacent estate, and used by hotel guests looking for a very different Irish hospitality experience, sort of lite on the turf fire, and heavy on the luxury.
One of this thatched trio sold to a private Irish buyer several years ago, at €3.2m (is it a record for a domestic Irish thatch?) and a second has come to market, being sold by the hotel’s new owners to allow them to concentrate on the hotel’s core resort offer.
Called Villa Verde (a sort of exotic name twist on the wearing of the green?) it’s an all en-suite four-bed house of 5,600 sq ft, and is guided at €895,000 by Elaine Daly of Sherry FitzGerald Daly who reckons its new owners could very well be Irish too at this price level. Once sold, it’s likely the third similar thatch done to a comparable standard may also come to market. Sheen Falls and Palladian Hotels (headed by ex Virgin and THF boss Paul Clarke, with chairman Nigel Chapman for Irish and UK investors) has been rolling out the first phase of a multi-million euro hotel core area revamp since last year, and this house sale is part of that funding and refocus.
Already, under manager Patrick Hanley, Sheen Falls has just won the title of Condé Nast Best European Resort for the year, ahead of the likes of Ashford Castle and many others: “it’s a validation for Patrick and the staff,” said Palladian’s chair, Nigel Chapman. Almost modestly describing the thatched house with the Sheen Falls sheen as “very gracious living,” Mr Chapman says a new owner can choose to keep it entirely private or rent it back to the hotel if and as required.
It has previously been rented at up to €4,500 a week, and had been on the market with other agents at €1m before being taken on by locally-based Elaine Daly of Sherry FitzGerald Daly. She reckons the contents and fit-out alone here is worth up to €100,000.
No architect is credited for the design of Villa Verde, which is distinctive not only for its size and length, but for the arched brow curve of its eyelet dormer windows, surely more an English thatch feature than an Irish, one save for some examples around Adare.
It is luxury, of course, from its criss-crossed thatch ridge to its oak, honed Sienna limestone and creme marfil marble floors, all gas heated in between. There’s also a log-stacked open fireplace in the main living room, so for the full Irish, just draw in a creel of turf from Kerry’s bogs up the hills and out the roads.
The house and its trim grounds overlook Kenmare Bay and the McGillicuddy Reeks, and it’s just a mile and a half from the town itself, while there’s private access to the Sheen Falls hotel – built by a sublime natural series of falls and pools popular with anglers (and, quite naturally, frolicking fish).
Inside, under the thatch, the layout is done out for grand entertaining (despite possible competition from the hotel’s top chefs next door), with a dining room seating ten at ease, with overhead mezzanine/library, and an adjoining living room via double doors which also has terrace access.
The lofty dining space has 20’ high ceilings, and three sets of French doors to the terrace, for barbecues, views soaking and champagne supping. The kitchen is no mean affair, with cherry wood units, granite and solid wood topped, with stainless steel backsplash and Godin cooker with gas hob.
The ground level also has two en suite bedrooms, utility with cherry units, guest loo and two stores. Overhead are two more en suite bedrooms, twice the size of those below, all bathrooms have bidets, and marble aplenty.
VERDICT: Thatch with a sheen
Kenmare, Co Kerry €895,000
Sq m 520 (5,600 sq ft)
Best feature: Thatch topper
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