A soft-top luxury model in Kenmare

Last of trio of thatched houses in Sheen Falls, Kenmare, has five-star hotel accommodation says Tommy Barker.

Sheen Falls, Kenmare €995,000

Sq m 336 (3,600 sq ft)

Bedrooms: 4

Bathrooms: 5


Best Feature: Most accommodating

THE last of a clutch of luxury thatched houses at Kerry’s chic Sheen Falls Hotel is for sale. It’s priced at €100,000 above that of a similar house next door, which featured in these pages in November and which has since sold to UK-based buyers for €895,000.

This last house is Villa Rosa, which is done to Caribbean or safari luxury-lodge standards, but under a winsomely quaint Irish thatched roof. It measures 3,600 sq ft, including four en-suite, hotel-style bedrooms.

Agent Elaine Daly, of Sherry FitzGerald Daly, in Kenmare, now prices this ‘Rosa-cheeked’ thatch at €995,000.

It’s sumptuously furnished, and on a marginally better site than its neighbour, Villa Verde, and will woo and feature in the upcoming Sherry FitzGerald London property fair, where the Irish agents will pitch their wares to UK-based buyers at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel, on Saturday, February 21: “we get 35% of our buyers from the UK,” says Elaine Daly.

Given that the house is the last of the trio to be sold by the five-star Sheen Falls hotel, it now carries a price premium.

Yet, this year’s buyers might be comforted hearing the very best thatch in the small bunch sold in the mid-2000s for €3.2m — which must be a record for a thatched Irish dwelling.

Developed by Danish family, the Hoyers, the Sheen Falls Hotel itself changed hands a year or so ago, for €5m, to UK-based Palladian Hotels, and is undergoing a multi-million euro upgrade, with new leisure facilities being added: it’s due to re-open in the coming weeks and last year it scooped the Condé Nast ‘Best European Resort’ gong for Ireland, ahead of the likes of Ashford Castle.

Buyers can live in it, or rent it out via the hotel for extra income. At peak season, Villas Rosa and Verde commanded rates of up to €4,500 per week.

The recent buyers of Villa Verde have Irish roots, and holiday frequently in Munster: it’s likely they’ll use it for 6-8 weeks in the year, and lease it, via the hotel, the rest of the time.

They’d been looking at a West Cork purchase, but, prior to Christmas, opted for Kenmare, on the Iveragh peninsula: they fell for a thatch by the Sheen river’s famous falls, just at the head of the Kenmare river and along the Wild Atlantic Way, albeit a tame section of this ingeniously-conceived tourism trail.

Layout and design were done with entertaining in mind, with a large and lofty dining space overlooked by a mezzanine gallery, and this room has three sets of French doors opening to a terrace with water views. Similarly, a plush living room also has patio access via another two French doors, and, at the long house’s far end, one of the two en-suite ground-floor bedrooms also has patio access.

A number of rooms are floored in Sienna limestone, or crema Marfil marbles. The kitchen’s tucked under the mezzanine, looking out over the long dining area and through its arched windows to the grounds beyond, and is described as “state-of-the-art and would please any chef.”

Hotel chefs have been known to drop over to cook for guests —so, no pressure. Units are solid cherry with granite worktops, with stainless steel splash-backs, the cooker’s powerful Godin unit, and other appliances are brands like Miele and Whirlpool.

Speaking of whirlpools, the adjacent five-star hotel (by whirling Sheen river pools) has leisure facilities that include swimming pool, sauna, gym and Jacuzzi/hot-tub.

VERDICT: Best of the mop-tops.


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