In Cork, an âunderusedâ terrace has been turned into a â¬ 1 million rooftop bar.
n Dungarvan, a tired old shipping container has become the centerpiece of a new garden bar.
In Adare, outdoor sheds will add an extra sparkle this Christmas; while in Kildare, a new farm aims to make a hotel “a whole new ecosystem of sorts” to supply its kitchens.
Welcome to the new world of Irish hospitality.
Covid has brought its horror stories, and hotels and restaurants continue to struggle with staff shortages and other issues. But it also inspired breathtaking innovation and ingenuity – creating new trends and spaces that may well survive the crisis.
âIt’s hard to believe that just a few months ago this space was an underutilized outdoor patio,â says Brian Bowler, Managing Director of The Montenotte in Cork.
A million euro investment has turned an indescribable area into a new rooftop bar, The Glasshouse, which Bowler calls a âreal game changerâ for the city.
The four-star already has its own cinema, eclectic interiors, and layered gardens with Insta-friendly views over Cork. Now guests can cross a new purpose-built glass bridge, past pale pink outdoor furniture, before entering the botanical-themed rooftop bar.
Many guests say they were âblown away,â Bowler adds.
Another creative venture in County Waterford was the Dungarvan Park Hotel. As the hospitality industry adapted to al fresco dining, it spent â¬ 27,000 to transform an old shipping container into the centerpiece of a sustainable alfresco dining and beverage space.
General Manager Declan Moriarty is extremely proud of âour quirky garden barâ.
âIt’s not something you see too often; a shipping container that appears between the leafy shade of mature trees, accented by twinkling lights above and picnic tables below. “
After setting the container in place, they cut out a large panel in the front, added raised beds, festoon lighting, and outdoor seating to complete the outdoor feel.
Teamwork, vision and âseveral late nights with the sleeves rolled upâ saw an unused area of ââthe hotel grounds transformed with âa magical effectâ that drew excellent reviews, Moriarty says.
The bar is closed for fall and winter, but there are plans to cover the area next year to make even more use of the space outside of the summer months.
‘Pivot’ has become one of the pandemic’s buzzwords, and nowhere more than in tourism and hospitality – where businesses have been forced to try everything from take-out to meal kits, subscriptions, terraces and food trucks in a desperate attempt to retain staff and income.
The challenge was enormous and took its toll. But with the help of support from the state, locals and FÃ¡ilte Ireland, it has also brought about a shift in the way we eat, drink and stay in Ireland.
This year, food critic Georgina Campbell even included a ‘Best Pivot’ category in her annual awards, celebrating Galway’s Dough Bros pizza for their DIY kits and Ballymakenny Farm in Co Louth for their creative ‘Spudshack’ drive-thru, among others.
For some, the changes were temporary fixes – a creative thought to start business when indoor meals were delayed or restricted to residents only.
âSix months or a year ago, if someone had told me we would have served dinners in the parking lot, I would have thought they were crazy,â says Cathal Kelly of The Gateway Hotel in Swinford, Co Mayo, one of the many companies that rushed to build outdoor restaurants this summer.
“But it just shows what you can do when you have to.”
Others are here to stay.
In Adare, County Limerick, Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Hotel has transformed a side part of its buildings into a new Treehouse outdoor dining area (above) serving Hereford burgers, breakfast bowls and ice cream .
Seven âtree housesâ add a cabin touch, with cozy stoves.
“The best description I can have is that it was an old abandoned garden full of heather and old gnarled hedges,” says Fiachra Coyne of the hotel’s marketing team. For Christmas, it is now planned to dress the region in a winter paradise, “and of course Santa Claus will visit”.
In Cashel, County Tipperary, Mikey Ryan’s pub has transformed an overgrown area backing onto the Cashel Palace Hotel into a stunning new ‘secret garden’ (above).
The pub and hotel were bought by John Magnier of Coolmore Stud before the pandemic, and the hotel’s renovation is one of the most eagerly awaited openings in Ireland.
In Co Laois, the family-run Abbeyleix Manor has developed a new outdoor terrace with an Airstream van, self-contained pods and a container unit.
âWhen the Covid pandemic hit, we had to close the hotel,â says April Kent, Polly’s manager at the hotel.
âWe spent a few months thinking about what we could do and noticed the large number of people walking the Abbeyleix Bog promenade, which starts from the hotel parking lot. At the same time, there was no open place to get decent coffee!
âWe were thinking about ways to get our coffee machine out and after a lot of research we decided to buy an Airstream van, in which we installed a wood-fired pizza oven and a coffee machine.
Opened in May 2020 under the Polly’s brand, it has since added “Platform 77” – a nod to the city’s old railway line – as well as pods and an expanded menu including gourmet burgers.
In Co Kildare, Cliff at Lyons even added a new farm (pictured below) to power their restaurants, with the goal of making the resort “its own ecosystem of sorts”.
Aimsir’s new farm and vegetable gardens will add three more acres of tunnels, orchards, animals and vegetable gardens that will provide eggs, honey and all the fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and leaves to the kitchens of Aimsir. Aimsir and the Cliff mill in Lyon.
What ideas will last?
As hospitality comes to life, it’s not just offices that are about to change in our ‘hybrid’ world – hotels all over Ireland and Europe are trying out new ideas, rethinking spaces, offering delicious meals. take out and terraces in the post-containment game.
The âbefore and afterâ photos will be fascinating.