Wednesday 27 June 2007

Hotel opens doors to public after €50m revamp

QUEEN Victoria had a 16-course breakfast there and old blue eyes Frank Sinatra reportedly downed many a pint in its bar.

Michael Collins is believed to have hidden out in room 210 there with Kitty Kiernan while his 'Squad' killed the British G men on Bloody Sunday.

And yesterday, after a three-year absence, the public could once again walk the hallowed halls of Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire.

In operation since 1828, the hotel closed its doors in 2004 in preparation for an extensive re-development project costing €50m.

The hotel now has 228 bedrooms, an increase of more than 120.

The 4-star hotel also features new conferencing facilities and a leisure centre, including an 18-meter pool. Diners will still be able to experience the most infamous feature of the hotel, the Bay Lounge which housed many celebrities including Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy.

The hotel's loyal clientele gave the makeover the thumbs-up, marketing manager Adrian Malloy said. "The feedback has been extremely positive," he said.

"Many old customers have been delighted that many of the old features have stayed."

Plans for the refurbishment were originally dogged by complaints from An Taisce in 2005.

In an appeal to An Bord Pleanala, it warned that the proposed development would detract from the visual prominence of the protected structure.

Residents of George's Street also made complaints against the refurbishment by developer William Neville and Sons who bought the property for IR£22m in 2001.

However, the planning body ordered only two changes to be made to the original plans - the omission of some balconies and an order to set the new bedroom block further back from the western boundary.

The refurbishment actually brought back many features previously lost, according to Mr Malloy.

"We have kept original features, including the bay lounge. But one of the best kept secrets about this whole development is the return of the Mansard roof.

"The ornate roof had been knocked down in the 1900s," said Mr Malloy, "if you look at the old pictures you see the roof is flat. Now it's back to its former glory."

Patricia McDonagh
Irish Independent

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