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Lisa Cannon Visits weddingsonline Waterside Venue of the Year – the Gorgeous Garryvoe Hotel in Cork

Hi again everyone again!… So as you know I’ve been taking the time to check out some of the wonderful winners from this year’s prestigious weddingsonline awards and what a job it’s been. I feel extremely lucky to be able to get a whistle-stop tour of some of the best award-winning hotels Ireland has to offer and for me it’s getting to discover some of the most beautiful parts of the country! Garryvoe Hotel in Co. Cork is one which I was lucky to have had the pleasure to have stepped inside. Little do you know when you come around the corner that you meet the most stunning views of Ballycotton Bay. It really is breathtaking!

Stephen Belton, the MD of the hotel was kind of enough to show me around this stunning hotel which has been in operation since the early 1900s…

Nobody would think to look at the Garryvoe Hotel that it is almost 118 years old! Since the early 1900s, streams of Irish people swarmed the Ballycotton Beach and dipped into the small local hotel afterwards for some afternoon tea and warm scones. Now, more than a century on the hotel still welcomes the beach-goers for a warm scone but this time with a swish cool 20th century latte and a twinkling smile. Garryvoe has come a long way and won Waterside Wedding Venue of the Year at the weddingsonline awards recently. I was there to chat to Stephen Belton about how it’s changed in those 100 years and what a wedding at Garryvoe means to the staff and most importantly the bride and groom!

 In the year 2000 when I took over The Garryvoe; it was a 17 bedroom, 2 star hotel. Now, in 2018 it has 85 rooms, is a 4 star hotel with four ballrooms, a health club, a sauna, a hot tub, four conference rooms employing 150 people.

So when you say it like that, you can really see how the hotel has evolved and come to play a very important role in the local area and to its loyal customers and residents. For me, on arrival the hotel is like an old steed manor but it’s only when you go through the doors that you really see its uniqueness which is all carved out in the stunning interiors! It really is a magical hotel and one that you have to put on your ocean-side bucket list! Aside from being an aesthetically beautiful hotel with a lounge you could stay in for days, the most important piece of the puzzle Garryvoe brings to the table for brides and grooms is its charm.

We look after everything right down to the last detail… we are the wedding coordinators – there is Aiden our GM, and Brenda and Ben so about four of us are involved in the weddings. We are the point of contact all throughout your big day and the only day Im not here is a Sunday! The relationship between the bride and groom and Garryvoe Hotel is a strong unique bond and it’s close because we are here and will look after you 100%.

This year it was an incredible year to win as there was such stiff competition especially when it comes to Munster, your title now reads Waterside Wedding Venue of the Year 2018… so how has it made you feel Stephen?

It’s been incredible for not only the staff and the hotel but for business too. Since 2016 weve won the Best Hotel in Munster for 3 years, Wedding Coordinators two years ago for Andre and Ben and overall for Ireland in 2016… it’s been brilliant!

However for the hotel there is of course the additional pressure and pressure to perform which on a wedding day is paramount! What makes Garryvoe stand out in that department?

It’s recognising that closeness with the wedding party and of course the couple, every hotel says you have to build a relationship with the bride and groom, that is the key and we do that exceptionally well here. We always deliver and after all these years, you are in safe hands. We know what we are doing, we help you build your dream day so without a doubt youll have confidence in us.

Aside from the beautiful views of Ballycotton Bay, you can’t mention the Garryvoe Hotel without mentioning its interiors. It oozes charm and beauty and has cool blasts of colour and energy. It’s like a slice of happiness when you walk through the front door, so how did this eclectic taste for colour and style in a boutique hotel from the 1900s get to be so popular?

I always say we are on a Mission from God (Blues Brothers). We try to combine style and contemporary interiors. Style for any bride is important and we want to surprise people always. We teamed up with the very brilliant Douglas Wallace in Dublin, and explained where we wanted to see the interiors going and they took it all onboard and did what you see today.

But my burning question was… where did the quirky orange love seats and dresden blue walls with oak tables and ornate chandeliers come from? What was Stephen’s inspiration to create such a funky look in the hotel?

The inspiration comes from me looking at London and New York hotels on the internet and in person. My wife says you’re not in London and New York, you’re in East Cork so youve to keep your feet on the ground! I do agree but that doesn’t mean you cant take inspiration from anywhere else

I couldn’t agree more so, voilà, Garryvoe is born out of inspiration and mood boards of the Soho House Hotels across the Globe. Yet one thing I did notice amongst all the coolness and quirkiness is the ballroom which is very traditional, it sets the palette standard for any bride.

Yes the ballroom is designed around a wedding so the high ceilings and the chandeliers – all 9 of them – add sparkle to the room. When a couple walks into the room they have to get a Whoa!! We have a lot of weddings a year, we are doing two or three a week so it is important that each wedding is very special and looked after very well and the ballroom caters for that in the fact it’s very traditional.

So what makes an intimate wedding at Garryvoe so special?

We are accessible, very grounded and down to earth and even though we are friendly and have great standards, we are very focused on what we want to do for the bride and groom. I help in the kitchen and the staff smothers them in love. I always say that if you and your team are not switched on it comes across, the bride and groom may not say it but they will feel it so everyone is en pointe!

And finally, one of the biggest selling points of the hotel is its unique Bridal Suite, a two storey suite directly overlooking Ballycotton Bay which is… WAIT for it; 1,2,00 sq feet… this, according to Stephen is perhaps one of the biggest Bridal Suites in the country!

Yes, it has a ground floor bedroom, a sauna, a double jacuzzi and big shower. The upstairs has a balcony that opens onto Ballycotton Bay… it might be one of the biggest Bridal Suites in Munster, nobody has measured anybody else’s but it just might be!

I think having had a quick peek it most certainly is – FABULOUS!

Congratulations to Garryvoe Hotel on their weddingsonline award for Waterside Wedding Venue of the Year 2018, it truly is a special place and one I think any bride and groom should consider for a very homely, friendly, elegant and fun place to celebrate.

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Lisa Cannon

Lisa Cannon is best known as a presenter on TV3's hugely popular movie show, Box Office. She blogged all about the lead up to her Big Day in Italy in September 2015.

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