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Montenotte Hotel – Reaching for the stars

An innovative and highly successful €5m project to radically transform and extensively refurbish Cork’s long-established Montenotte Hotel to cater for an untapped niche in the market, is already bearing fruit with increased bookings from premium leisure and corporate guests.

The hotel has been massively and comprehensively upgraded in virtually every area – from the bedrooms, to the public areas, the addition of new facilities and enhancement of the extensive landscaped grounds, as well as the addition of a major new covered terrace – with further improvements still ongoing.

Hospitality entrepreneur and owner of the Montenotte Hotel Frankie Whelehan explained the ethos behind the project “The hotel has been established as a 3-star venue for 47 years, attracting a mainly local clientele – mostly in the food and beverage market.

“When I took control of the property two years ago, I looked at the broader hotel market in Cork and found they were all large chains, so there were no privately owned hotels in the area. I realised that there was a gap in the market for an individual owner-operated large 4 star hotel with a unique character, set in six and a half aces of grounds, offering personal service and catering for individual travellers and corporate events, rather than coach parties and large groups.

“A fundamental shift was therefore needed from where the Montenottte Hotel was, to where it could be – and this is being achieved through extensive refurbishment and upgrading to cater for this untapped market niche.

“So far the project has gone well – on time, on budget and with a good professional team which has done really well. The market feedback has been very positive and the hotel has been extremely busy with increased bookings.

“When people book your hotel that are putting their faith in you that they will have a nice time and leave refreshed – and unless you are on top of your game, you won’t be able to complete that contract.”

He added that the project has allowed the hotel to put itself on a new footing as one of the top establishments in Cork, now attracting the higher end corporate and leisure traveller at premium rates, and therefore increasing profitability.

Main contractors for the scheme are KPH and project architects, managers, and planning supervisors are MDP Architects, working in conjunction with lead designers Grainne Weber Architects.

The first phases of the scheme are now completed and included the dramatic extension of a small balcony to take advantage of the stunning views of the city and the river. This has resulted in the provision of a magnificent 6m sq furnished terrace, complete with new glass balustrading, a retractable dark grey awning and overhead heaters, connected to the hotel’s bar and restaurant via two new sliding doors. The terrace is paved in plain grey tiles, complementing the white and dark green furniture.

All of the hotel’s 126 bedrooms have also been refurbished, using three different colour schemes, which include a dark blue and mustard palette of materials for the superior rooms, plum and grey in the smaller rooms and orange and grey in the family rooms.

Merrchant Suite

All of the rooms were comprehensively upgraded, with new check patterned carpets, panelled wardrobes and bespoke classic dark walnut and black lacquered furniture, complemented by black and white photography artwork by Joleen Cronin. Bathrooms feature blue/grey tiling combined with Carrera marble, classic style washbasins and spacious showers.

The corridors have been enhanced with new dark painted panelling and wall lighting and muted check carpeting.

A former function room has been converted into a brand new 40-seater cinema known as the Cameo, with tiered dark green armchair style seating with adjacent small tables.

A new lift and stairs were also installed.

In addition, the hotel’s entrance/reception area has been enlarged and improved to include a series of seating spaces, a small library area and a discrete panelled reception desk, creating a luxurious yet homely feel with a colour palette in relaxing greys and greens.

The bar and bistro too has been upgraded. Originally a separate bar and dining area, it has now been transformed into a single large space with a servery/bar and a series of different furniture types, including antique style furnishings interspersed with modern pieces. A particularly striking feature is the new bespoke large breakfast buffet table, beautifully made from antique wooden floorboards.

The dining area features a combination of booths, banquette seating, large round tables close to the windows and grouped dining tables, with various styles of pendant lighting defining different areas. Flooring is in white timber planks interspersed with matching parquet, with a bespoke patterned mosaic around the bar and at the entrance to the dining area.

In addition the hotel’s leisure centre/gym has been completely upgraded and features a colour palette of bright yellows, blues and greens, new flooring and new equipment, and has also been made directly accessible from the hotel – much more convenient than the former external access.


20 of the hotel’s long and short stay let apartments have been completely refurbished, including the installation of new kitchens in blue or green, as well as new geometric patterned blue and grey carpets, floor to ceiling curtains, and new furniture and decor.

The current phase of works involves the creation of a new spa and new conference facilities to accommodate the midweek conference market, as well as the addition of new offices on the upper two floors of the hotel. The spa and treatment area will include massage rooms, a beauty bar and relaxation suite with panoramic views.

New conference facilities are being created by dividing one large function room into two fully equipped meeting rooms (one large and one small), with a breakout space in between to better cater for the corporate market. The breakout space includes a copper coloured bar and an antique table. The conference facilities will have direct access to the hotel gardens, which were re-landscaped in an earlier phase.

In conjunction with this, two of the hotel’s existing apartments are being converted into one bedroom apartments to cater for corporate customers.

A further phase of the project involves the construction of a number of living pods within a walled garden in the hotel grounds to provide short term corporate rental.

The project is due for completion by 17th March 2018.

Luke Higson, director of MDP Architects said: “The hotel is very well established, but was in need of some investment and has been completely rejuvenated.

“The project team have done an excellent job so far – especially considering that the hotel has remained open during such a wide-ranging redevelopment where it was critical to the success of the project that the works went very smoothly.

“This is a key project for our company and involves an important client who is an excellent operator, so this scheme is highly significant for us.”

Grainne Weber, owner of Grainne Weber Design said: “Our brief was to bring the venue back to the status of a major 4 star destination hotel. Our client took inspiration from emulating the quality of accommodation offered in some of the high end London hotels.

“Key challenges of the project included the tight timescale and short lead-in times which resulted in us having to use several joinery and furniture companies in order to meet the deadlines – which in turn required more liaison with different suppliers. Sourcing the required quantities of fabrics was also an issue, so we had to use around 10 different types of fabric as no single source stocked the amounts needed.

“KPH are doing a great job and the whole contract team have worked well together. This project is of massive importance to us – we have a very good client to work with on a highly enjoyable scheme.”



Based in Cork, Lightplan are a commercial, retail, hospitality and domestic lighting supplier. Lightplan has been in operation for more than 20 years and have recently introduced a new ground floor showroom to complement the established decorative business.

Over the past two decades, Lightplan have supplied lighting to a large cross section of clients, including Garryvoe Hotel, Clayton Silver Springs, Capitol Complex Cork and Silver Key Restaurant to mention just a few. Most recently, Lightplan has been involved in The Montenotte.

Working on The Montenotte, Lightplan supplied all the lighting to the bedrooms, bar, reception and exterior areas.

Lightplan Branch Manager, Larry O’Rourke, said:

“The very impressive refurbishment at The Montenotte has taken this hotel to a whole new level and this is evident with the quality and style of lighting installed. We were delighted to be involved with such a high-end finish.”

Larry added:

“At Lightplan, we pride ourselves on a number of key elements. We regard our staff as our best selling point with over 80 years’ of combined lighting experience and our product knowledge and ability to keep up with market trends is key in an industry which is rapidly changing due to the development of LED technology.”


20/20 Window & Glazing Systems Limited

20/20 Window & Glazing Systems Limited specialise in the supply of PVC windows & doors, aluminium windows, doors, curtain walling, large lift & slide doors, rooflights and glass canopies, as well as many glass products to the construction industry. The company has been in operation since February 2009 and has worked with many high profile clients including BAM, John Cleary Developments, PJ Hegarty & Son and KPH Construction, to name but a few.

Past projects for 20/20 include the Capitol Complex in Cork City; Boston Scientific, Model Farm Rd, Cork; Hogs Head Hotel and Golf Club in Waterville, Kerry; and Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore, Waterford. Most recently, 20/20 has been involved in The Montenotte refurbishment project.

Working on The Montenotte Hotel, 20/20 was involved with the aluminium and glazing specification, taking the work from design stage to completion.

20/20 Window & Glazing Systems Limited Co-Founder, Ken Matson, said:

“The Montenotte is an iconic hotel in Cork City and we were delighted to add our expertise to the refurbishment.”

Ken added:

“At 20/20 Window & Glazing Systems we take extra care to ensure the client gets exactly what they want.”


John O’Connell Furniture

John O’Connell Furniture is Ireland’s leading contract furniture manufacturer, having made chairs for more than 27 years. Combining all the strands of furniture manufacture in one production facility, including sawmill, machining hall, polishing, upholstery and steel & brass works, John O’Connell Furniture bring the designers’ and clients’ visions to life, far exceeding expectations.

John O’Connell Furniture has a strong working relationship with the Clarion Group, having worked on a number of hotels previously. Some of the company’s most recent projects include the newly rebranded Alex hotel, NoLIta bar and The Red Cow Morans hotel – winner of the Fit-Out of the Year Award 2017.

Most recently, John O’Connell Furniture has been involved with The Montenotte. Working on this project, John O’Connell Furniture was responsible for all the bedroom furniture and upholstery, as well as the total furnishing of the new bar and restaurant including the bar counters.

John O’Connell, John O’Connell Furniture, said:

“The Montenotte has always been regarded as one of Cork’s premier hotels and we are proud to note this on our client list. The exceptional architectural and furniture designs of Grainne Weber architects, as well as the way in which the bars and restaurant are now open out to cork’s harbour and city vista, makes this a reference project for the future.”

John added:

“At John O’Connell Furniture we pride ourselves on our ability to recognise our clients’ commitment and financial investment to their projects, focusing on their required outcomes at all times.

“Our highly skilled work force has the capabilities for both modern and traditional craftsmanship; we’re design conscious; we have the ability to proto-type and manufacture to design; and we have our own manufacturing facilities which enable us to provide complete control over the design and the quality of finish.”


Unique Fitout

Unique Fitout is a “full service” construction and fit-out company, based in Glanmire, employing 50 people and in business since 2009.

The company has its own furniture manufacturing & finishing facilities which have played a prominent role in the refurbishment of the Montenotte Hotel. Unique Fitout’s work here included the refurbishment of bedroom furniture, new reception desk & customer services counter, fire doors & screens, wall panelling in the bar & function room and the internal & external doors to the new entrance lobby.

Gerard Brady, Unique Fitout, said:

“We are proud to be associated with the Montenotte Hotel and we thank them for placing their business with us. It is important to us that they are happy with our work and we look forward to working with them again. We wish them every success.”

Recent examples of Unique Fitout’s other completed projects include turnkey office fitouts for the EPS Group and J & S Automotive Services. Unique Fitout are currently manufacturing new bespoke bedroom furniture for the Fota Island Resort and the Kingsley Hotel.

Gerard added:

“At Unique Fitout, we pride ourselves in giving clients a fast, efficient, safe, reliable and cost-effective service. We are experienced, flexible and easy to deal with and are well used to safely working in populated environments. We can count hospitals, local authorities, educational facilities, shopping centres and multi-national electronics & pharmaceutical companies among our lists of satisfied clients.”


Decor Painting & Decorating

Decor Painting & Decorating boasts an excellent reputation in the painting & decorating sector, including hotel re-decoration. The company has been in operation since 2006, but is backed by 27 years of painting & decorating experience.

Past projects have included Woodstock Hotel, The Old Ground Hotel, Imperial Hotel and Silver Springs Hotel, as well as Clayton Hotel and Maldron Hotel in Limerick. Most recently, Decor Painting & Decorating has been involved in The Montenotte, working closely with the design team to achieve the required finish.

Dennis Marcus, Decor Painting & Decorating, said:

“It’s a pleasure to work on such a project as The Montenotte Hotel – it helps to keep us up to date with the growing styles and trends that are happening in the industry right now.”

Dennis added:

“At Decor Painting & Decorating, we pride ourselves on providing a clean and fast service.”


Brian Scully Services

Established in 1987, with their Head Office in Newcastle West and additional offices in Dublin & Cork, Brian Scully Services specialises in the supply, installation, repair and maintenance of Air Conditioning & Ventilation Systems.

Brian Scully Services has the distinction of becoming Ireland’s first approved Business Solutions Partner for Mitsubishi Electric Air Conditioning, and they are also a Diamond Partner of Mitsubishi Electric Ireland, which allows them to provide a 7-year warranty with all installations. Brian Scully Services are confident in the exceptional quality and wide range of products offered and also the availability of spare parts, which is of paramount importance to both themselves and their clients.

For more than 30 years, they have been installing systems country wide and have also completed projects as far afield as Spain, Germany, Holland, England & Northern Ireland.

Most recently, Brian Scully Services has been involved in The Montenotte Refurbishment. Working on this project, Brian Scully Services was responsible for the installation of the Air Conditioning Systems in areas such as the Bar, Restaurant & In-House Cinema.

Brian Scully Services Managing Director, Kevin Scully, said they were proud to be involved in the refurbishment of this elegant Boutique Hotel and look forward to continuing their relationship with The Montenotte to provide any future Air Conditioning requirements. He added that he has no doubt the Montenotte will continue to be one of Corks Luxurious Hotels for decades to come.


KPH Construction

KPH Construction is a construction and civil engineering specialist working across a range of sectors, including commercial and domestic. The company has been in operation since 1993 and within this time has worked on a range of prestigious projects including the Park Hotel Kenmare, Sheen Falls Lodge in Kenmare, Killarney Court Hotel, Parknasilla Hotel Sneem, Dromquinna Manor Kenmare, City East Plaza in Limerick and various retail outlets for the Musgrave Group, including SuperValu and Centra stores.

Most recently, KPH Construction was appointed as the main contractor on The Montenotte Hotel. KPH Construction’s involvement on the project was extensive and included the total refurbishment of the bedroom’s, including associated stairwells and corridors; a complete refurbishment of the reception to incorporate two lifts; and the refit of break-out areas, conference rooms, bar and the restaurant, including the construction of an external first floor balcony.

KPH Construction Construction Manager, Micheál O’Shea, said:

“We feel privileged to have been involved in The Montenotte Hotel; it is a landmark hotel on the north side of Cork City and a very prestigious project. We were delighted to work with the owners, the management team and everyone involved in delivering this refurbishment.”

Micheál added:

“At KPH Construction we pride ourselves on the quality of our finish, which is second to none. We are renowned for our timing and our finish.”

Fire Protection of Rolling Stock 2018

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