Doonbeg Golf Club in Co Clare has opened the Lodge and accommodation phase of this €150 million development. The economic spin-off has been compared to the equivalent of getting Intel or Dell to set up in the west of Ireland.
This phase of the project has seen the construction of the key elements of the physical infrastructure designed to complement the internationally acclaimed links golf course designed by Greg Norman. It has also seen the addition of 100 new jobs bringing total employment in the project to date to 220. The third phase of the project which will see the construction of a further 9 suites and 80 cottages will commence later this year when the first 17 cottages will be released for sale.
To date, the project has seen the construction of the Lodge, the clubhouse and the interconnected accommodation in the Garden, Norman and Courtyard Suites. The magnificent Lodge building which is the centrepiece of the entire development looks out over the first tee and the eighteenth green. It contains 15 luxury suites, dining and bar facilities and a state-of-the-art spa.
The Garden, Norman and Courtyard Suites which are connected to the Lodge by a series of courtyards contain a further 32 luxury suites. The entire development has been landscaped by celebrity gardener Diarmuid Gavin.
All 47 of the suites have been sold in advance of the opening. While the suites are privately owned they are leased back to the club and form a bank of accommodation available to visitors. The club has been receiving bookings for the accommodation since early in the year.
The Doonbeg projected started life as an initiative by the local community to encourage tourism for the area. They were assisted by Shannon Development which brought the project to the world market where it was embraced by Kiawah Development Partners (KDP), a South Carolina company already involved in luxury development and golf related projects.
The Lodge, the clubhouse and the associated buildings have been designed by US architect, John Haley, working in conjunction with Dublin based architects, Campbell, Conroy, Hickey. The construction team consisted of local Clare company, L&M Keating, working with John Paul Construction. The White Horses spa was designed by the US based Irish spa designer Clodagh.
The golf course, which was phase one of the development and which was recently voted Golf Course of the Year by the Irish Golf Tour Operators, opened in July 2002.
Speaking at the official opening of the Lodge and associated amenities Mr Charles ‘Buddy’ Darby, chairman and chief executive of Kiawah Development Partners said that KDP had set out to create the ultimate golf links experience. He said that from the outset they saw this experience consisting of a great golf course with unparalleled amenities supported by uncompromising service.
“Greg Norman delivered the first part of that vision for us in 2002 with a truly great golf course. I believe we have now given that golf course amenities of a similar standard. I have no doubt that the final part of our vision – service second to none – will be delivered by our general manager, Joe Russell and his team, which now numbers over 200 people. I have been delighted to read recently that Doonbeg has been seen to raise the bar in terms of service standards for Irish golf. That is exactly what we are hoping for.”
He went on to say that Doonbeg was about much more than the award winning golf course. “We have created a luxury facility which we believe will attract a much wider audience than golfers alone. When the Doonbeg Business Group first set out it was to bring more visitors to the area I have no doubt that we will do just that.”
Speaking about the Doonbeg project Mr Kevin Thompstone, chief executive of Shannon Development, said that for Clare the project represented sustainable development at its best. “Doonbeg Golf Club is the single largest tourism project ever to have been undertaken in the West of Ireland. It is already generating significant economic spin-off and has been compared to the equivalent of getting Intel or Dell to set up in West Clare. When Shannon Development first initiated the idea of a large scale integrated golf development in Doonbeg, we worked hard to secure the right land package and the right developer. We were delighted to have secured Kiawah Development Partners as project developers who have succeeded in sensitively developing a links course that is now recognised as one of the world’s great. We are proud to have been instrumental in bringing it about.”
Doonbeg Golf Club is a private club with limited visitor access to golf and accommodation upon availability.
KDP is the master developer of Kiawah Island, the 10,000-acre island located 21 miles south of Charleston, South Carolina. In addition to Doonbeg Golf Club, the company’s affiliates include Kiawah Island Real Estate; The Kiawah Island Club, which includes the Tom Fazio-designed River Course and the Tom Watson-designed Cassique Golf Course.
Doonbeg Golf Club www.doonbeggolfclub.com