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The Lodge at Doombeg Golf Club

Jeff Williams
From the Print Edition:
Richard Branson, Sept/Oct 2007

Few are the places that can be brand new and yet seem utterly timeless. The Lodge at the Doonbeg Golf Club, on the west coast of Ireland, is one. And when you also ponder its location, style, elegance, comfort, aura and the course itself, you must consider it a world-class seaside golf accommodation.

The Lodge opened in 2006, but feels far homier, in a grand sense, than virtually any comparable golf destination. The furniture is heavy and cushy, the floors stone and wood, the bathrooms awash in marble, the walls adorned with Irish art. The architecture suggests substance, and the interior design is that of a home that has aged abidingly. The wood flooring in the 15 Lodge suites is reclaimed French oak. The wood paneling and beams in the public spaces are treated and stained to suggest age.

The Doonbeg Golf Club is a links course that flows along the Atlantic through spectacular dunescape. The Greg Norman-designed course (opened in 2002) was developed by Kiawah Development Partners of South Carolina, which, despite its geography, has made great efforts to keep an Irish feel to the place. No more is that philosophy reflected than in the magnificent Lodge—a manor house that overlooks the 18th green and ocean.

"We saw an opportunity to do something in world destination golf terms that doesn't really exist," says KDP chairman Buddy Darby. "To have a place that's right on the beach and looks down on the golf. Sometimes you nail it and sometimes you don't. Sometimes it turns out better than your expectations, and Doonbeg is certainly that."

The architects traveled around Ireland for weeks to look at the great country houses and get a sense of style for the buildings, as well as the furniture and accessories in The Lodge, its suites and the two-to-four-bedroom cottages that are rented to guests. The stone for The Lodge was discovered when one of the architects drove past a home in Cork where the owner was building a garage from it. It took four years to find the antique accessories and design reproduction furniture and accents.

In keeping with the eighteenth-century architectural style, the windows of the public spaces and the suites are multipaned, the antithesis of the picture-window look. This provided an almost mysterious slide-show view of the course and the ocean. In a practical sense, these windows offer comfort and protection during the hard weather months when the coastline is battered by storms.

Without doubt, the greatest comfort is provided by the Irish themselves: the bellmen, front desk staff, waiters and waitresses, as well as the golf shop professionals, greeting staff and caddies. Always a smile, always there to help, never underfoot. There is casual dining in Darby's Bar, featuring contemporary pub food (wonderful soups), and fine dining in The Long Room, with local fish, lamb and venison.

For additional comfort and luxury, the White Horses Spa offers four treatment rooms and a workout facility. There is a golfer's massage on the treatment menu, perfect for those 36-hole days.

Visit www.doonbeggolfclub.com or call 011 353 65-905-5624.

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