• Cyril McAree

The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens Opens It's Doors After €18million Renovation


The five-star Dunloe Hotel & Gardens, located close to one of Ireland’s most iconic tourist destinations, the Gap of Dunloe, officially opened its doors recently after undergoing a stunning 18-month renovation of the restaurant, bar, reception, lobby and lounge spaces as well as the enhancement of the gardens and carpark.

A substantial €18million investment by the hotel’s owners the Liebherr family, has brought new life to the hotel, enhancing its long-standing relationship with the beautiful surroundings and maximising the property’s unrivalled views of the Gap of Dunloe. The Liebherr family has been at the forefront of tourism and manufacturing industries in Killarney and the surrounding areas for over 60 years, employing 1,000 people across the country. Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade, joined Dr. Isolde Liebherr to celebrate and welcome the reopening of this magnificent 5-star hotel.

Speaking at the official re-opening, Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD said, “It is my great pleasure to open a new jewel for tourists in Ireland, in a place that is one of the jewels in the crown of our entire tourist industry. The Liebherr family’s commitment to Ireland, with more than 1000 employees, is so important and appreciated. The rebirth of this hotel is a further sign of the Liebherrs’ dedication”.

Local building contractors Griffin Brothers led the year and a half long renovation with the assistance of O’Carroll Engineering who implemented the building’s steel works. At the height of the build, the site had over 160 people working across all areas, including Tralee company Designer Landscapes Ltd who, along with Head Gardener Dave Barry, updated the gardens and outdoor spaces using a beautiful collection of native and international flora and greenery and finished with Kilkenny limestone.

Swiss company Monoplan took the lead on the design aspect of the build. Despite updating and reinventing the hotel spaces, the Monoplan team was eager to retain and reinforce existing elements of the property that made it so special. The transformation begins at the driveway where guests instantly perceive the Dunloe Castle Heritage Park with its unique tree population.

The public areas of The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens were redesigned and rebuilt to ensure optimum efficiency and accessibility throughout the hotel. The primary focus of the build was to retain the identity and integrity of The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens to give guests a sense of homecoming with the familiar silhouette of the two towers and an interior design that relates to the tradition of the hotel. It was equally important to create a whole new building with extraordinary spaces, new terraces and a design that lives up to the expectations of a 5-Star Hotel.

Managing Partner at Monoplan, Philip Wohlfarth, said of the renovation, “The double height window in The Grill Restaurant ensures that everyone will be able to take in the beauty of the Gap of Dunloe. The new terraces and enhanced landscaping will allow the hotel’s customers to sit outside and enjoy the magnificent surroundings”.

The restaurant overlooks the iconic view of the Gap of Dunloe in spectacular fashion, with a room height of six metres and huge panoramic windows to the south. This area is characterised by natural light, fresh colours and the connection of interior and exterior. In contrast to this, the lobby, the library tower and the bar have been designed in such a way that dark, warm tones and precious materials create an inviting, rather introverted atmosphere to sink into.

In the façades of the towers the new, the old and newly interpreted come together in an exemplary way with the familiar stained glass flower windows which were removed, cleaned and re-set in the stone clad tower, juxtaposed to protruding contemporary window reveals in dark aluminium. Similarly, the interior design combines existing pieces of furniture and artwork with a whole new fit- out that is rich in texture and detail, completed with bold wallpapers and traditional tiles.

Speaking at the re-opening of the hotel, Managing Director of Killarney Hotels Ltd Michael Brennan said, “After an 18-month refurbishment and renovation we are delighted to be re-opening The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens. The Liebherr family has over the past 60 years continually re-invested in their hotels and the completion of this latest renovation project demonstrates once again their commitment to Killarney and the surrounding area. We look forward to showcasing the magnificent work that has been done here at The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens, which has enhanced the facilities we offer our guests and has increased employment within the hotel sector. The hotel has a rich history but in all its many years has never looked as good as it does now”.

The gardens at The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens are celebrated in all aspects of the renovation and can be enjoyed both outside and from within the property. Guests can traverse the world in an hour in the gardens of the hotel. The voyage starts with Chilean fir trees and leads on to Australian gums, South African lilies, New Zealand cabbage trees, New Zealand cherries, Japanese maples, North American dogwoods, South American fuchsias and back to its roots with a Killarney strawberry tree. While the newly developed herb garden, delivers fresh seasonal herbs for the hotel’s chefs.

“The new planting has been designed to complement the existing garden,” explains head Gardener Dave Barry. “An example would be the new roundabout that has been planted with large pine trees. These are similar to the pine trees that were planted in the 1920’s and tower over the entrance of the gardens. On the south side guests are overlooking a 300-year-old mature oak tree with the stunning view of the Gap of Dunloe in the background.”

The gardens surrounding the shell of MacThomas' medieval keep have a dramatic setting looking towards the mountains girdled by the Ring of Kerry. Camellias, magnolias, roses and rhododendrons, handpicked by renowned plantsman Sir Roy Lancaster, now flourish in the sheltered grounds together with rare specimens such as the aromatic-leaved 'Headache' tree. In the paddocks to the front of the hotel, descendants of Hafflinger ponies brought over by Dr Hans Liebherr a half century ago still graze in the lush paddocks and will continue to bring joy to guests of all ages.

Speaking about the re-opening of The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens, Kerry TD Brendan Griffin, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport, said, "This is very positive news for Kerry tourism. The Europe, The Dunloe and Ard na Sidhe hotels are some of the top hotels in Kerry and this investment builds on a strong tradition of hospitality by this hotel group. I wish the management and their teams the best of luck with the re-opening and assure everyone involved that the government is fully committed to working with them to achieve the best possible future for the tourism industry."

2018 marks the beginning of a new chapter in the story of The Dunloe Hotel & Gardens. A chapter that is a fitting foundation for the next half century.

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For more information visit: www.thedunloe.com

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