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Holidaymakers splashing out on five-star experience here

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Staycationers will be big spenders this summer, with bookings at Ireland’s most exclusive five-star hotels and Airbnbs soaring.

equests for hotel upgrades, more expensive wines, private villas and extended stays are flooding in as people prepare to splash out.

Ashford Castle, Ballyfin Demesne, Sheen Falls, Dromoland Castle and the Park Hotel have reported a flurry of bookings.

Luxury Airbnbs with beach views are already booked out from May to September.

Properties such as Skellig Rest Cottage in Waterville, Co Kerry, which has a hot tub, sauna and garden hammock, is booked out from April to September at a cost of €1,400 a week.

Niall Rochford, the general manager at Ashford Castle in Cong, Co Mayo, said: “In the last two weeks, people have kind of woken up and started to think about the summer ahead.

“It’s been a really difficult time and we’re seeing the pent-up demand. Those who would normally go to the south of France and Italy can’t this year, so they’re willing to spend the extra money on the five-star experience at home.

“Our rates start at €625 and go right up to €5,000 for the Regan suite, and we’re selling across the board, including the Regan suite. The vast majority of bookings are from the domestic market.

“People are also booking a three-to five-night stay as opposed to one night.”


John and Francis Brennan at their Park Hotel in Kenmare. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Mark Nolan, the general manager at Dromoland Castle in Co Clare, said: “Two things I’ve noticed – people have the ability to spend more than ever and they’re booking for much longer, sometimes up to eight to 10 nights. They also want a larger room. That’s certainly a trend.”

With holidaymakers opting for extended getaways as opposed to a weekend break, hotels are preparing to meet their expectations.

“Because they’re staying longer, hotels are planning new activities,” Mr Nolan said. “We’re clearing deer trails and developing watersports and we’re broadening horizons with food and beverages.”

Asked if hotels will hike their prices, he said: “No. People are booking longer stays and we don’t want to kill the golden goose, so our rates are staying between €650 and €950 for a suite.”

John Brennan, of the Park Hotel in Kenmare, Co Kerry, said hotels have learned from their mistakes at the Millennium, when they “got too smart”.

“People felt ripped off and had parties at home instead. They had a great New Year and said, ‘We won’t spend a fortune going away any more’. Ever since, the market for that weekend has been soft.

“Last year, there was an increase in spend on our wine list. Where previously they would have spent €35 or €40 on a bottle of wine, they were willing to spend €65 and €70 now.

“Rather than put up rates, it’s better to let people decide for themselves if they want to spend the extra money.”

Damien Bastiat, the general manager at Ballyfin Demesne in Co Laois, has noted “an increase in enquiries and reservations from the Irish market when normally we would see mainly overseas visitors”.

Seamus Crotty, at Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare, said the level of enquiries “has been phenomenal”.

“Our private villas are almost booked out and reservations in the hotel are well up,” he said.

“An interesting thing is the level of engagement. They’re planning comprehensive trips and have the time to research the attractions in the area. They want to make their trip special and memorable.”

Sunday Independent

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