The building work is now in full swing at Dunluce Lodge, the north coast’s first 5-star hotel & spa. The £16.5m development, funded by American investment, will see the creation of a 35-room luxury complex overlooking the 4th fairway at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Scheduled for opening in advance of the 2025 Open Championship, owners Jonathan Harper and Robert Covington, who established the Links Collection with select investment partners, continue to drive the development despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the current economic climate.
“We experienced and love links golf in Ireland and particularly Portrush. Although initially viewed as a family home, we soon realised that the 9-acres would be the perfect site for a golf lodge. We are excited that others will have the opportunity to enjoy the same experience we did, and we can give something back to a local community that has been so supportive.”
Engaging locally is also one of the priorities for Valor Hospitality Partners, the project’s designated hotel development and management company.
“Dunluce Lodge is such an exciting project given our luxury, boutique hotel experience,” explained Euan McGlashan, Co-Founder and CEO of Valor Hospitality. “Owners, investors, Valor and the local business community will collaborate to develop this world class lodge. We expect that as many as 80 local jobs created.”
The collaborative process began with the recent appointment of Wilma Erskine, OBE BEM, former manager of Royal Portrush Golf Club as Brand Ambassador for the company.
“The Dunluce Lodge development will see Valor tap into Northern Ireland’s business expertise,” said Wilma. “The team already includes Brian Canavan Associates [Quantity Surveyor], Clyde Shanks Ltd [Planning Consultant], Arthur Cox LLB [Legal Services] Fox Contracts [Entrance works] and Arbor Consulting [Trees and Shrubs].”
Construction is in the hands of Ballymena firm Martin & Hamilton, specialists in heritage projects such as Belfast Castle and the Albert Memorial Clock.
“We employ local tradesmen who take great pride in their craft and deliver a finished product which realises the designer’s vision for Dunluce Lodge,” explained Director, David A. Hamilton. “We have also planned a recruitment event as a forum for discussions between our construction manager and the local supply chain.”
Dunluce Lodge will exhibit strong ‘green’ credentials, with every effort taken to ensure harmony with the landscape.
“The existing house has a distinct and familiar form in a prominent location visible from the golf course,” explained lead architect James Maxwell of Maxwell & Company, Inverness. “It was important that its replacement provides visual continuity using materials which evoke a domestic architecture rather than a commercial one.”
He added: “The Lodge will provide the hub of the development, evocative of the original house and closest to the golf course, behind which will sit a courtyard and two-storey accommodation which enables good integration with the land’s contours. The existing tree planting will be safeguarded wherever possible to minimise the impact of development. By reinforcing the established planting within the site, we can create a sheltered garden landscape and reduce the impact of weather.”
The eco-friendly approach extends to the buildings themselves.
“All buildings are very highly insulated, requiring a minimum of heating and providing a stable thermal environment throughout the year that helps reduce energy consumption and improves comfort. Air source heat pumps are employed for heating and hot water in the health spa.”
Even the construction workers are expected to display green fingers.
“We are mindful that this is an area of outstanding natural beauty,” said David A. Hamilton. “Minimising the impact of construction on the local flora, fauna, and residents living nearby will be a daily priority for our construction team.”