Since opening its doors back in 2007, Castlemartyr Resort has evolved from being the hyper-exclusive escape, The Capella, to becoming one of the country’s most affordable luxury resorts.
Just last year, the hotel was bought by Singaporean-based partnership Stanley Quek and Peng Loh (who also boast Sheen Falls in their portfolio), hailing the latest era of the hotel.
In the midst of continued upgrades, the hotel has seen the addition of a new lobby, new dining options and there’s even talk of Michelin stars, so this week I paid a visit to the East Cork luxury hideaway.
As a curtain-twitching Castlemartyr native myself, it’s easy to clock that Castlemartyr Resort has been enjoying a spruce-up of late. Arriving at the estate entrance, I spot new signage up front, the Heron’s Reach lodges at the estate entrance have enjoyed a facelift and, winding past the hotel’s (and village’s) signature 15th century keep, a new fountain has been installed on the resort’s postcard. lake.
However, most significant for guests is the hotel’s newly constructed lobby which has been re-centred from the old manor towards the contemporary room wing to improve check-ins and the overall guest experience.
Beyond the new porte-cochère area for valet parking, a porter welcomes me into the new-look lobby, a double-story space (fashioned from the old ballroom) where a colossal chandelier droops above a super-sized check-in area flanked with castle-inspired artwork, leather couches, and grand piano.
The proportions are equally grand and it’s an impressive space though I can’t help but lament the loss of the charm of arriving at the original manor doors.
Check-in is warm and friendly and, while my room isn’t quite ready (20 mins after check-in time), I soon get the nod and the friendly concierge, Gerald, shows me to my third-floor room.
Fifteen years on since it opened, the super luxury pedigree of The Capella reign still ripples through at Castlemartyr Resort. Entry-level deluxe rooms are generous by default and my junior suite feels positively presidential.
A reception area featuring a cloakroom, coffee station and guest WC leads into a luxurious lounge area with a writing bureau and generous seating in the hotel’s signature scheme of gold and mahogany.
The sleeping area centers around a king bed, corner chaise, TV center and gentleman’s valet which leads into a considerable walk-in wardrobe with a vanity desk (though minus a chair).
Castlemartyr Resorts bathrooms are particularly lavish and mine is a white marble affair where back-to-back mirrored walls from the twin sinks to the bath add a palatial hall of mirrors effect. While some of the furnishings (particularly the flooring) feel a little tired, it’s still a space likely to wow.
On site, Castlemartyr Resort features all the boujee bells and whistles of a luxury five-star resort. The hotel’s pool continues to be one of the most architecturally impressive in the country and features a sauna and steam room, its award-winning spa sits just next door.
Out on the estate, the hotel has its 18-hole championship golf course while tennis courts are currently being built. There are the French gardens in which to wander and outdoor chess underneath the castle. The hotel is also dog-friendly with a selection of dog-friendly rooms and self-catering options, ‘The Residences’.
Castlemartyr Resort’s dining portfolio is in a state of culinary metamorphosis right now with two new restaurants on the menu.
For my stay, I dined at the newly-launched Canopy, set in the former Franchini’s Italian restaurant (and the more short-lived TwelveTen grill). The restaurant features its own Canopy Bar, Chef’s Table, overlooked by the kitchen and a main restaurant floor evidently inspired by nature and the trending indoor-outdoor movement. The dining space is shrouded by a centerpiece faux botanicals installation while other pops of vegetation enhance the flow to and from the outdoor terrace.
It’s an impressive setting, although my place setting overlooking a patio fire exit door brings little to the table come nightfall so I swap after my starter to face the restaurant proper. I enjoy Rosscarbery oysters served with chilli and celery, followed by Beef Rossini (fillet topped with foie gras) and finish with disassembled Eton mess. Food is fresh, tasty and bounteous although €47 is pricey for a main without sides, particularly when I opt out of the goose liver.
Guests no longer experience the Bell Tower for breakfast, so come morning, I find a comfy bench seat at Canopy and enjoy the usual mix of buffet and hot ordered options. I opt for sweet potato and veggie mix which offers a pleasant veggie start to the day.
Elsewhere, Castlemartyr Resort is shooting for the stars, not least those of the Michelin variety.
Replacing the hotel’s original Bell Tower Restaurant is Terre, a new fine-dining experience which just opened last weekend with French head chef Vincent Crepel at the helm.
The tasting menu inspired by the sea and the bounty of nature costs €110pp (excluding wine pairing).
Guests can also dine at the golf clubhouse as well as The Hunted Hog, one of the village pubs, now under the hotel’s aegis.
With its perfect East Cork location, plush rooms and trove of luxury assets, Castlemartyr Resort offers guests a full-package luxury getaway. Rooms start from €270 but given their plush proportions, I feel junior suites at €330 a night are particularly well priced right now for an upgrade treat.
Changes at the hotel are ongoing and with the addition of the new lobby, I feel there is a trade-off between that new augmented guest experience and the charm of the original manor. However, Castlemartyr Resort is clearly a property adapting to guests’ needs and looking forward — continued investment, improvements and not least the new star-shooting Terre restaurant could just take a stay here to the next level.