Travel Weekly's Ireland E-letter: Nov. 11, 2004

FORE GOLFERS: The Mount Juliet Conrad golf resort near Thomastown, County Kilkenny two-time host of the American Express World Golf Championships crafted a Follow in the Footsteps of Champions package in honor of recent celebrity visitors such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The package priced from $732 per person for a mid-week stay includes two nights' accommodation; one dinner; one round each on the championship golf course and 18-hole putting course; unlimited driving range access; a half day of fishing; and a "golfer's tension" massage in the spa. For more, visit www.conradhotels.com or call (011) 353-56 777-3000.

THE TOPS: The Merrion Hotel in Dublin was voted tops in quality out of 400 Leading Hotels of the World member properties at the chain's third annual Commitment to Quality Awards ceremony. The 145-room hotel created from four 18th century Georgian townhouses in 1997 also won the chain's Leading Hotel of the World award for the Europe market. Winners are properties that receive the highest scores during their most recent anonymous inspection. The merrion is also home to Tethra, the first hotel spa in Dublin, and two-star Michelin restaurant Patrick Guibaud. For information and reservations, contact The Merrion direct

at (011) 353-1-603-0600 or via e-mail at [email protected]. Or visit http://www.merrionhotel.com/ or www.lhw.com online.

UP IN THE AER: Aer Lingus will launch four European routes out of Dublin as of March, to Hamburg, Germany; Marseille, France; Naples, Italy and Seville, Spain, increasing the number of onward options available via Ireland. The additional flights bring the total of new services introduced since 2001 to 42, more than tripling the size of the airline's network. According to chief operations officer Seamus Kearney, the airline which slashed fares earlier this year now gets 60% of bookings via the Internet. For more information, go to www.aerlingus.com.

CHOICEIN CORK: Clarion Hotels is expanding in Ireland to the tune of some $52 million, developing a new 4-star property in Cork to open by the end of this year, just in time for the city's role as European Capital of Culture in 2005. Clarion Hotels is the contemporary premium brand of Choice Hotels Ireland; the 193-bedroom Clarion Hotel Cork property joins two other existing Clarion hotels in Limerick and Dublin's International Financial Services Centre. The hotel is located in Lapp's Quay, across the River Lee's south channel from Cork's city hall, and is part of a major office and hotel/leisure center project. Facilities also include meetings and function rooms, a health spa/club, parking, a restaurant and a bar. For more information, visit www.choicehotelseurope.com/ireland.

CORK PORK: In other Cork news, the Irish government upped the ante for Cork's run as E.U. cultural capital, adding some $2 million in new funds for event and attractions development. The new monies bring the total government investment to about $11 million, said tourism minister John O'Donoghue. For more on Cork 2005, visit www.cork2005.ie.

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