Kiawah-Doonbeg Ltd, the developers of Doonbeg Golf Club, has filed plans with Clare County Council seeking several amendments to their 2002 Planning Permission. Last July Doonbeg Golf Club was granted permission for a 91 room hotel/lodge and 48 cottages along with a clubhouse, spa and golf shop. A related request on adjoining lands sought permission for 32 additional cottages. That application was later deferred at Doonbeg’s request and recently withdrawn.
The amended plans are for a main lodge building (containing 56 suites, dining facilities, a spa and golf clubhouse) and for 80 cottages. The “village” of 80 four-bedroom cottages will be arrayed at differing elevations along the entranceway to the course, leading ultimately to the Lodge at the site’s highest point above the ocean. It is hoped to commence construction on the initial phase of the plan this autumn.
The amended designs reflect the developer’s wish to position all 80 cottages in slightly different locations and in a less linear, more integrated village-like arrangement. The designs submitted are true to the fundamental Doonbeg Golf Club concept of structures in keeping both with traditional Irish architecture and materials, scale and colours of the homes of the nearby County Clare landscape.
A similar philosophy by Doonbeg’s parent company in the US has won accolades over the past 15 years for the company’s sensitive golf and real estate development on Kiawah Island along the Atlantic in South Carolina.
Exhaustive research throughout Ireland has been undertaken over several years to identify the most appropriate designs for the lodging aspects of the Doonbeg Golf Club development. The lodge building itself and the Doonbeg Golf Club clubhouse draw their inspiration from numerous Irish country houses, including Muckross House in Killarney National Park.
John Haley, Doonbeg’s primary American architect, said, “The main buildings (i.e., clubhouse and lodge) in the final plan submitted today (16th May 2003) recall many elements of fine Irish country homes of the 19th and 20th centuries. As with many such wonderful country house settings, the plan has a hierarchy of structures. There is a main structure surrounded by several smaller buildings to create a sheltered courtyard. All structures excepting the golf shop will have suites of one to four bedrooms (all en suite), kitchen, and lounge areas. The lodge buildings, clubhouse and golf shop vary in scale, size, and form, providing an appealing progression of mass and roofline profiles moving inland from the ocean and golf course.”
Brian Conroy of CCH Architects in Dublin noted that the overall scheme has been created with two primary goals in mind. “Our first objective was to minimize the structures’ footprints on the land while ensuring that their visual impact will be subtle yet complimentary of the outlying properties in these pastoral lands,” he said. “The cottage footprints are now far less than was granted in July, 2002. Secondly, we sought a certain intimacy of the dwellings with a number of holes on the golf course that is integral to their existence. At the same time the cottages will be as unobtrusive as possible to the golfers enjoying play.”
The initial phase of buildings in the revised scheme contains 28 suites available for pre-sale this summer. It is hoped to start building work on these suites this autumn. The Golf Club intends to manage the suites and, ultimately, the cottages for the owners. Club members and golfers generally will be able to reserve the suites and cottages for use as their “home base” from which to play the Doonbeg course as well as other nearby courses such as Lahinch and Ballybunion. Another 28 suites (making for a total of 56) will be sold in phase two within a year or two.
There will also be associated dining facilities overlooking the 18th green and the ocean. The lodge and golf clubhouse are situated just behind the several tee boxes for Doonbeg’s par 5 first hole, a hole that has already won international acclaim as one of the most dramatic starting holes in the world.
The Doonbeg team of Irish and American architects has endeavoured to design structures and outdoor places that interact with and contribute to the startling beauty of the near-ocean landscape. The lodge buildings will be clad with hand-hewn Irish stone and render. The materials for the 2,300 sq.ft. cottages (slightly reduced in size from those previously approved following new research into consumer preferences) include use of stone accents with whitewashed, thick walls, proportional windows, and rough slate roofs. The light-coloured cottage walls, charcoal grey slate roofs and stone accents result in cottages compatible with the picturesque Clare landscape.
Summing up the vision for the project, Leonard L. Long, Jr. one of the Kiawah-Doonbeg partners, noted, “Our company originated 15 years ago on an uncommon sea island in South Carolina called Kiawah, named for the Indian tribe that once lived there. It has natural attributes and charm we felt could never be equalled, that is until we arrived in October of 1999 and began walking this majestic site along Doughmore Bay.
“Ever since, our partners have dedicated themselves to treating with utmost care these few hundred acres in County Clare that must be among the most beautiful anywhere. Indeed, anyone who has been to these lands, who has felt the enormous power of the Atlantic forcing its way along the rugged coastline or strolled these hauntingly beautiful beaches beside the course or smelled Doonbeg’s peat fires and rain washed air; anyone who’s done that knows well why this land is so magical. And why this courageous community of Doonbeg fought so hard and so long to keep alive the 19th century promise of a magnificent golf course among its marram-covered dunes.
“To compliment what others have proclaimed as a championship level course of world-class dimension, our team of architects and land planners redoubled their design efforts this year to create a pleasing collection of buildings. They relate well with each other while recalling earlier times. As this setting signifies the best in sport, it should serve in due time as the ultimate retreat in Ireland. The intention is to create five star facilities with a level of service, links course and architectural charm second to none worldwide.
“We hope, too, that this planning application enlarging the number of bedrooms to 133 (from 91) in the lodge and better integrating the 80 cottages, will demonstrate our strong, continuing confidence in this project. We’ve never wavered in our enthusiasm for this investment. But when Golf Digest voted Doonbeg the ‘Best New International Course’ our enthusiasm shot up even further!
“All of the structures will be built to the highest possible specifications. Their interiors will be inviting and comfortable, with well-crafted fireplaces, superb bath fixtures, and plenty of hardwood and stone flooring. We’ve intended all buildings here to be memorable without creating monuments; to be, in the final analysis, positive additions economically and aesthetically to this extraordinary corner of Ireland.”
Doonbeg Golf Club www.doonbeggolfclub.com
For further information please contact:
Caroline Reynolds, Wilson Hartnell Public Relations
Office: +353 1 669 0173
Fax: +353 1 669 0039