An Inspiring Anniversary in Ireland

- Rachel Denning, We enticed Rachel from the corporate world of BusinessWeek back in 2005 and put her at the helm of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region where she and her team have built our largest regional collection of 800 stunning properties in over 60 countries. Rachel has 18 years' experience of sales, marketing and PR with a strong background in luxury travel and cannot sit still. Her passion and energy have taken her to well over 50 countries in remote corners of the world where she has been held at gunpoint, rescued from a sabotaged helicopter and looped-the-loop in an open-top 1943 biplane, all in the name of relationship-building. Rachel speaks 3 languages fluently, converses in another 3 and thrives in her role working with so many diverse cultures on a daily basis. In addition to running our regional team from our central London base, Rachel is our VP of Global Partnerships and responsible for seeking out the right audience for our properties and building the brand with a dash of wit, a lot of style and some truly ground-breaking promotions. Rachel grew up in England, graduated with a dual-language degree from a French business school and has never stopped learning. She is in her element on a ski slope or a golf course, loves to write and is a very creative member of our team.

I rarely take my partner on visits to Kiwi Collection’s luxury properties as he bemoans the hours I like to spend chatting with our General Managers and noting things I both like and dislike about the hotels but, when it came to our anniversary weekend, there was no escaping. Luckily for me, I picked the fabulous Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt which kept him more than busy with its two challenging golf courses and hi-tech gadgetry.

The hotel is less than 30 minutes south of Dublin so an easy commute for business travellers but also an ideal getaway destination for those who like the best of the countryside but need their fix of city culture (Powerscourt is a stunning country estate in County Wicklow, the garden of Ireland).

The rooms are arguably the best in the area with enough space to hold a céilí, cloud beds and space-age TV screens that float in the middle of the bathroom mirrors. We celebrated in style at Powerscourt’s Gordon Ramsay restaurant where General Manager Allan Federer, newly arrived from the Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, spoiled us with the best view in the house so we could watch the sun setting over the hills.

Midnight came and went over a sampling of whiskies in the Irish bar and we eased ourselves into a lazy Sunday by the side of the magnificent black mosaic pool sprinkled with Swarovski crystal lights that shine through swimmers and create mesmorising ripples on the ceiling. The pool is part of the hotel’s ESPA spa, now on my top 10 list of places to be pampered.

Monday morning found me alone and in central Dublin – time to revisit some of my old favourites.

The Dylan is a decadent, cheeky boutique hotel with as much substance as style and a library with a well-thumbed copy of our book. Unlike so many uber stylish hotels, it looks as good as the day it opened and is my top recommendation for a naughty weekend away. Don’t miss the restaurant – surely a contender for a Michelin macaroon.

The Fitzwilliam already has Michelin on its side and wins on location if you want to blow some cash on Grafton Street. The team is justly proud of its newly refurbished rooms which have set a style standard for the rest of the hotel and are guaranteed to shake off the travel blues.

For timeless elegance and immaculate service, you can’t beat the Merrion. A row of Georgian townhouses just off St. Stephen’s Green, the Merrion excels in making guests, including me, feel truly at home, even if your home is a far cry from the hotel with its priceless art collection and turf fires.

Morning pastries or afternoon tea in the lounges are a must on a rainy Irish Sunday and the cellar bar is Dublin at its best. Watch out for the Westbury, emerging from a lengthy facelift, and make time for a homemade chili-infused vodka at the Four Season’s Ice Bar.

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