Friday, May 27, 2016

Castlemartyr - A Class Apart

The 18th approach - Pod and hotel beyond.
Luxury is a word synonymous with the five star Castlemartyr Resort, in east County Cork. A rich history, an ancient castle, beautiful grounds and a river running through it all set the scene for this effortlessly impressive combination of hotel, spa and golf course.

The hotel is wrapped around the 17th century manor house… but ‘manor house’ might make you think this is a modest sized building. It is not. The Bell
Tower Restaurant is divided across a number of different rooms (allowing diners a level of intimacy), the large Knights Bar has high ceilings and windows looking out to the gardens… and that’s before we talk about the individual bedrooms and suites upstairs. Alternatively, just look at the photo.

Yep, that's a 'manor house'.

My wife and I had been treated to a room at the farthest point of the hotel to the restaurants (there are two) and bar… but that was because it was the closest room to the golf course and there are some things more important than food… although you can eat in the clubhouse ‘Pod’ if you so choose – with views over the 10th hole. And besides, the walk to the restaurant takes you passed the spa, an impressive art collection and the Knights Bar... which should not be ignored.

Let me walk you through the ‘room’:

The Bell Tower Restaurant

The Bell Tower restaurant has won awards and that’s little surprise when you eat here. I’m no gourmet when it comes to duck and venison… but my sweet tooth knows a thing or two when it comes to dessert. The photo does not do it justice… but allow me to introduce you to Baked Yoghurt, Poached Pineapple, Pineapple & Pepper Sorbet and Choux Beignet.

The food at Castlemartyr was superb – and guests and visitors can also enjoy a second more casual dining experience at the Italian Franchini’s.

And why not combine golf and food by taking a moment between courses at the Bell Tower to nip out onto the practice chipping green beside the ruins of an 800 year old castle, right outside the restaurant.
The chipping green outside the Bell Tower Restaurant

The Ron Kirby Designed Golf Course

Interestingly, Castlemartyr’s weakness is also one of its greatest strengths… it is not a long course. From the white tees it is a par 72 of 6,137 yards (5,466 yards par 73 from the red tees) and that means scoring opportunities and the prospect of getting around at a reasonable speed. And with the 9th green by the clubhouse it all helps to speed up play. The gentleman behind me was out to play a quick nine holes and on glorious sunny summer evenings I imagine plenty of residents will do likewise.
The 12th green with Pod and hotel in the distance
It is not a difficult course – assuming you’re not ridiculously wayward – and it is a lot of fun to play over bumpy fairways that were designed to play like links. Around the greens there is a similar feel as gorse and fall-offs will intimidate on approach shots. The greens are especially good, in shape, size, presentation and conditioning. There’s good variety, too, and the 8th particularly catches the eye with a gathering hollow stretched across the middle.
The 18th green at Castlemartyr
Big hitters may feel they can tear the course apart but there are enough subtleties and deceptions on holes to keep you on your toes - and holes 10 and 11 are two of the most difficult holes you'll face... coming right after what would be considered a 'gentle' front nine. The par five 11th curls ever left, like a hook, with a green squeezed between nests of gorse. They are scorecard wreckers for sure.

The club has also invested in rental clubs... six sets of Titleist AP1s is certainly an attractive proposition for guests... so Castlemartyr is making all the right moves as it seeks to attract more business. And golfers who are looking for quality and luxury can base themselves here and have golf on their doorstep... as well as Fota Island and Cork golf clubs... and Old Head, too, of course.
Approach to the par five 4th at Castlemartyr
One last thing I’ll add: this is five star luxury every step of the way and yet the welcome is sincere and relaxed. Nothing forced… just people who genuinely want you to be here and to have a fabulous time.

The hotel has a variety of offers available - and not just golf. Take a look on the Castlemartyr Resort website for more information.

Many thanks to Castlemartyr for their wonderful hospitality.

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