Thursday, June 21, 2018

Mount Juliet - The New Hunter's Yard Hotel

It’s not often you’ll find two hotels in one resort… but then again, it’s not often you’ll find somewhere as astoundingly beautiful as Mount Juliet
Hunter’s Yard is a ‘new’ four star hotel of modern flourishes and calm sophistication. It will complement the five star luxury of Mount Juliet House, perfectly. The distance between them is a few hundred metres but Hunter’s Yard is right next to the new clubhouse and golf course. It surrounds the old courtyard and is a combination of renovation and inspiration. If you remember the leisure centre or the
old locker rooms you’ll know where I mean.  

And, if you remember the original Pro shop under the archway, you’ll now discover the hotel’s Heritage Room, a peaceful space where guests can relax free from TV, music and children. The most recent Pro shop will shortly become a cafĂ©.
The 18th green and clubhouse beyond, shot from the 17th fairway
There are 93 new rooms in Hunter’s Yard, to go with the 32 in Mount Juliet House. That is a significant hike from the original 16 rooms and it makes the estate far more attractive as a destination. Hunter’s Yard also has the Hound Restaurant… and previous visitors will be very familiar with this as it overlooks the Paul McGinley Golf Academy, and it was here that hungry golfers ordered food – the burgers were famous. But the restaurant and bar areas have been upgraded and while you can still eat here the clubhouse next door will prove more than sufficient.
My room at Hunter's Yard
The Paul McGinley Golf Academy was launched last year and the resort will be introducing packages to attract golfers to use the range and its extensive facilities. With indoor bays and outdoor grass teeing areas it’s an all-year-round affair. There will also be a Get into Golf programme to encourage new golfers to take up the game. It emphasises the fresh approach sweeping through the resort and a busy summer of open events and opportunities to play the course have just been announced. For starters there’s a World Cup special offer of €300 for a fourball, which includes a beer and a burger – yes, that burger – as well as coverage of the match itself. The offer runs throughout the tournament, subject to availability. 
Festival Week events at Mount Juliet
The Mount Juliet Festival Week takes place between Monday 16 and Sunday 22 July. Singles, fourballs and team events are all up for grabs for golfers who want to enjoy the majestic Jack Nicklaus course for between €50 and €60. There’s also a Junior Open for €20, so the club is catering to everyone.
For me, one of the most interesting things is how quiet Mount Juliet has been of late. What with the sale a couple of years ago and the recent investments it has been staying below the radar. Even the opening of Hunter’s Yard has been low-key. Certainly there hasn’t been the usual level of golf chatter about a parkland course and resort frequently regarded as Ireland’s best. Well, now the course – completely unchanged, I might add – is back to its lazy, charming and flowing best with the sort of maintenance that Mount Juliet was renowned for. 
The Jack Nicklaus vibe is stronger than ever, too, something clearly apparent in the clubhouse. The corridor to the clubhouse changing rooms (see video above) is lined with Jack Nicklaus memorabilia while on the opposite wall large photographs of the course whet the appetite. The Nicklaus theme continues in the bar and restaurant, now named simply as Jack’s Bar. Perhaps that attention on Jack is to remind golfers that this is a Signature course.
The 'beach' green on Mount Juliet's 16th hole
I spent a couple of hours on the course one night in May (see photo above of the 16th, taken about 8.30pm) and it was reassuring to see the greens in such good condition and also to see so many golfers out on a Thursday evening. It bodes well for a busy summer.
The Hunter’s Yard hotel is a separate entity to Mount Juliet House and it makes the resort more appealing and accessible than ever to golfers from around the country. A lot of work has gone into the estate (and this is continuing) so put an old favourite back on your must-visit list and come to Co. Kilkenny.

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