For such a small country, Ireland has a long-standing tradition of hospitality and luxury, and when we do five-star experiences, we do them well. So it was no doubt a true battle naming the best hotels and spas in the country at last night's Gold Medal Awards, but named they were.
The accolades were handed out at a lavish ceremony in Lyrath Estate, Co. Kilkenny, and as the leading independent awards for the Irish hospitality industry for 31 years, the Gold Medal Awards carry serious clout for the hotel and spa industry.
Of 135 finalists, 31 awards were given out in the hotly contested awards.
The award for Supreme Winner went to Armada Hotel Co. Clare, a palatial estate on the water's edge which also was awarded the gongs for Ireland's Wedding Hotel and Ireland's Front of House Team/Team Member.
Run by John Burke - who is married to former Fair City actress and Dancing With The Stars finalist Aoibhin Garrihy and who last year became the first Clare man to scale Mount Everest - the hotel is right along the Wild Atlantic Way, offering guests total luxury in an exquisite setting.
With bedrooms that face out onto the dramatic landscape and seasonal, local produce served up in The Pearl Restaurant, the hotel has nabbed awards for years.
The spot is also noted for its rolling grounds, where weddings can be held on verdant lawns overlooking the crashing waves.
InterContinental in Co. Dublin, a staple spot for business people, politicians and the like, was named Ireland's Five Star Hotel, while Ashford Castle in Co. Mayo - the 13th-century estate which was where Rory McIlroy, Pierce Brosnan and Shane Filan all married their sweethearts - was named Ireland's Five Star Resort.
Ireland's best five-star spa was also named, with The Europe Hotel & Resort in Co. Kerry taking home the prize. The jaw-dropping spot is certainly the pinnacle of luxury, with a sweeping spa outfitted with a lagoon-like pool, tranquil treatment rooms and atmospheric decor, all overlooking the serene Lakes of Killarney.
They specialise in ESPA treatments, a world-renowned programme that uses essential oils to soothe and relax guests.
Here is the full list of winners at the Gold Medal Awards 2019:
- 2019 Supreme Winner - Armada Hotel Co. Clare
- Ireland's Five Star Hotel - InterContinental Co. Dublin
- Ireland's Five Star Resort - Ashford Castle Co. Mayo
- Ireland's Five Star Hotel Spa Experience - The Europe Hotel & Resort Co. Kerry
- Ireland's Four Star Hotel - The River Lee Co. Cork
- Ireland's Four Star Resort - Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort Co. Antrim
- Ireland's Four Star Hotel Spa Experience - The Spa at The Kingsley Co. Cork
- Ireland's Three Star Hotel - Eccles Hotel Co. Cork
- Ireland's Best Designed Hotel - The Dunloe Hotel and Gardens Co. Kerry
- Ireland's Best Hotel Website - Ballyseede Castle Co. Kerry
- Ireland's Business & Conference Hotel - Red Cow Moran Hotel Co. Dublin
- Ireland's City Hotel - Conrad Co. Dublin
- Ireland's Country House & Guest House Experience - Cahernane House Hotel Co. Kerry
- Ireland's Family Friendly Hotel - Breaffy House Resort Co. Mayo
- Ireland's Hotel Breakfast - The Savoy Hotel Co. Limerick
- Ireland's Pet Friendly Hotel - Castlemartyr Resort Co. Cork
- Ireland's Wedding Hotel - Armada Hotel Co. Clare
- Ireland's Hotel Group - Maldron Hotels Co. Dublin
- Ireland's Chef of the Year - Paul Hynes, La Côte Seafood Restaurant Co. Wexford
- Ireland's Hotel Casual Dining Experience - The Garden Room at The Merrion Co. Dublin
- Ireland's Fine Dining Hotel Restaurant - The Lady Helen at Mount Juliet Estate Co. Kilkenny
- Ireland's Wine Experience - Ashford Castle Co. Mayo
- Outstanding Service Award - Mark Nolan, Dromoland Castle Hotel Co. Clare
- Ireland's Front of House Team/Team Member - Armada Hotel Co. Clare
- Ireland's Guest Experience - Dromoland Castle Hotel Co. Clare
- Ireland's Innovative Supplier - Excel Recruitment
- Ireland's Menu Provenance Award - BrookLodge & Macreddin Village Co. Wicklow