Ballysaggartmore Towers, County Waterford, Ireland
The Top 10 Hotels on the Emerald Isle
Picture a lush green island with country villages, historic castles and ruins, languid lakes and rugged coastlines partnered with warm, friendly people who enjoy a deep cultural heritage. But there’s much more to Ireland, especially for meeting planners.
The island boasts vibrant, sophisticated cities and a multitude of unique venues and luxe accommodations—from purpose-built conference properties and cutting-edge hotels to fabled castles and legendary golf resorts that inspire incentive dreams. Other
enticements for planners are a substantial increase in airlift; widespread, complimentary Wi-Fi; and a favorable U.S. dollar-to-euro exchange rate. Plus, there’s another built-in advantage: “When you’re quoted a rate for a hotel room in Ireland, that’s the price you pay. It includes the room, a great Irish breakfast and all taxes,” says Kevin Shannon, managing director of Odyssey International Incentives & Meetings, based in Dublin.
DMCs such as Odyssey are invaluable resources for planning MICE events here; so is Tourism Ireland, with a Meet in Ireland brand that represents the entire island (both the Republic and Northern Ireland). For planners who are intrigued by Ireland, here is a tantalizing taste of the top 10 hotels and resorts on the Emerald Isle.
Ranked at No. 10 in Cvent’s inaugural list of the top 25 cities in Europe for meetings and events, Dublin has a full complement of city and nearby properties for consideration. The newest is The Marker Hotel Dublin, a five-star ultra-modern property overlooking Grand Canal Square in the Docklands district.
Its checkerboard facade, 187 sleek, geometric guest rooms and stylish restaurants speak to its trendy location. The hotel’s nine meeting rooms can accommodate 10 to 250 guests. The rooms are all located on the ground floor, adjacent to the main reception area, with private street access. A rooftop bar and terrace can host small events.
The Morrison, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Dublin
Cross the nearby Millennium Bridge from The Morrison, a DoubleTree by Hilton hotel and you’re in the lively Temple Bar neighborhood, an indication of the hotel’s prime location and hip appeal. This four-star boutique property underwent a complete renovation in 2013 that refreshed all 145 guest rooms and resulted in a redesigned lobby area. Its 8,680 sq. ft. of meeting and event spaces—including boardrooms, a courtyard garden and art gallery and the main space—can accommodate up to 350 delegates.
The five-star The Westbury, steps from Grafton Street in Dublin’s city center, features a luxurious, contemporary design that carries through its 205 guest rooms and suites, as well as its meeting and event spaces. It features seven boardrooms plus the ballroom-size Grafton Suite, which is draped with Waterford crystal chandeliers and can accommodate up to 220 guests. All meeting spaces are located on the first floor and finished with contemporary artworks. Afternoon tea here is an iconic Dublin experience.
Citywest Hotel, Conference & Event Centre is set within 380 acres of parkland in Saggart on the outskirts of Dublin and convenient to light rail. This four-star, 774-room property features two dedicated conference centers. The hotel center can host up to 2,100 delegates for meetings and 2,000 for banquets, while a separate, three-story venue caters for 4,100. An 18-hole golf course draws golfers to its greens, while special performances and live events (such as Disney on Ice) are held here.
Only 30 minutes south of Dublin in Enniskerry in County Wicklow is Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa. A member of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, it was originally built as a Ritz-Carlton on the famous Powerscourt Estate in 2007. Offering panoramic views of Great Sugar Loaf Mountain, this crescent-shaped, 200-room hotel has more than 12,030 sq. ft. of meeting and conference space, including a 6,000-square-foot ballroom. Among its luxe amenities are a 30,000-square-foot spa with 20 treatment rooms, a 36-hole golf complex and a historic home where it’s possible to stage a welcome reception or a sit-down dinner for 150.
Tucked among 400 acres between the Wicklow Mountains and Irish Sea, Druids Glen Hotel & Golf Resort in Newtownmountkennedy is a five-star hotel with 145 guest rooms, complemented by two championship golf courses and a health center with an indoor swimming pool. Its conference and meeting space encompasses seven newly designed venues with capacity for up to 400 participants. Also on the property is the historic Woodstock House, which dates back to 1770 and is available for private dining for up to 100 guests; a rooftop terrace features panoramic views of the estate and the Irish Sea.
Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa
Cork is the gateway to Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, a spectacular 1,500-mile touring route along the western seaboard. It’s also the site of Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa in West Cork, a four-star retreat situated just outside the heritage town of Clonakilty, and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and Blue Flag Beach. Its 94 guest rooms and four conference rooms provide 4,300 sq. ft. of function space, while its seawater spa wraps guests in wellness in 24 treatment rooms. Taking advantage of the lodge’s oceanfront location, the property offers surfing, horseback riding on the beach, whale watching and more.
Europe Hotel & Resort
In Killarney—a TripAdvisor favorite—is the modern, five-star Europe Hotel & Resort, which holds court on the shores of Loch Lein. Along with the hotel’s complement of 187 guest rooms and amenities (including an award-winning spa and two adjacent championship golf courses), the property encompasses a designated conference and event center outfitted with eight meeting rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, a dedicated reception area and a flexible ballroom that can accommodate large conferences, car launches and gala events.
Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort
Located on 840 acres in the heart of picturesque Adare Village and just 25 minutes from Shannon International Airport (SNN) in County Limerick, Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort is ideal for incentive groups. This luxe retreat features a Neo-Gothic manor dating back to the 1850s, providing a total of 5,467 sq. ft. of function space for groups from 20 to 250. This castle property is pouring $109.8 million into a major renovation that will increase the number of guest rooms from 62 to 108, add air conditioning and a ballroom that can accommodate up to 350, plus add new boardrooms. According to Sales Manager Liz Godfrey, the hotel will close Jan. 22 and re-open 18 months later. “We are taking inquiries from September 2017 onward,” she says.
Just 10 minutes from Belfast’s city center is the five-star Culloden Estate & Spa, an elegant business property that retains the traditional aura of its origins as a Bishop’s Palace. Its conference and meeting facilities include eight flexible conference suites for up to 1,290 delegates, while the estate’s 12 acres of manicured gardens are well-suited for team-building exercises and outdoor events. The exclusive spa features eight treatment suites, plus access to other facilities of the health club. Many of the 105 guest rooms have views of Belfast Lough.
When it comes to describing the many merits of meeting in Ireland, Pat Crowley of Odyssey International has an easy job. He enthusiastically sums it up by stating, “We don’t sell Ireland; we share it.”
Isle of Plenty
Ireland is an enchanting destination with castles, great golf resorts, luxurious getaways and urban jewels. Here are a few more properties sure to wow incentive travelers and attendees.
Carton House Hotel
is located in Kildare, about 20 minutes from Dublin Airport. There’s luxurious event space for up to 500.
Clontarf Castle Hotel in Dublin
is a 12th-century hotel that is known for its award-winning dining.
features a dynamic location across the street from National Concert Hall and a 10-minute walk to museums, shops and pubs.
Glenlo Abbey Hotel in Galway
dates back to the 18th century. The estate overlooks captivating Lough Corrib.
House of Waterford Crystal in Waterford City
offers factory tours. While in the region, take a side trip to the Gothic Ballysaggartmore Towers in Lismore.
Lough Erne Resort and Golf Course
is a hidden gem in Northern Ireland’s Fermanagh Lakelands.
Parknasilla Resorts & Spa
is outside Kenmare, about 26 miles from Killarney National Park. Its sustainable food sourcing includes vegetables and herbs from an onsite garden.
The Kildare Hotel, at The K Club (pictured)
is modeled after a French chateau, positioned magnificently on the banks of River Liffey.
The Shelbourne Dublin, A Renaissance Hotel
is near Abbey Theatre and offers event space for up to 450.
Dublin Becomes a Player
You’ve heard of Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Silicon Forest—maybe even Silicon Surf—those U.S. enclaves that define not only a geographic area but also the general tech milieu of innovation, entrepreneurship and venture capital firms.
Welcome to Dublin, where Silicon Docks joins the group with a lot of familiar players: Google (first on the scene in 2004), followed by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and many more. The area—so-named in 2011—encompasses the re-energized Grand Canal Dock and stretches into the neighboring financial services district, City Centre East and City Centre South. Its heart is Grand Canal Square, an architecturally stunning public space that features cafes, bars, apartments and offices.
Then there’s the convention center. Opened in 2010, Convention Centre Dublin was a major factor in the city’s jump to No. 13 in ICCA’S 2014 rankings. This purpose-built conference venue—also the world’s first carbon-neutral convention center—has a capacity of 8,000 delegates. Among its features are a 2,000-seat auditorium, four boardrooms for up to 40 people, 11 meeting rooms for up to 140 people and four suites for up to 500. Conveniently located 15–20 minutes from Dublin Airport (DUB), the facility has won 31 industry awards.
It all adds up to excitement. Sam Johnston, manager of Dublin Convention Bureau, says, “The reinvigoration of Silicon Docks adds to the already excellent buzz and facilities across Dublin. This hub is generating an increase in meetings and attracting other events in the tech space by helping the convention bureau with a USP [unique selling proposition] as we present the destination to clients.”