Luxury hotel with chequered planning history to open in Dublin

Five-star retreat first mooted in boom era

Staff work  on the Interior of the Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Staff work on the Interior of the Marker Hotel, Grand Canal Square in Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Mon, Mar 25, 2013, 06:00

With rainforest showers and sunken baths, a 23m infinity pool and an open-air rooftop bar, the owners of Dublin’s newest five-star hotel better hope guests don’t tire of getting wet.

After a long wait, the unusual white “checker-board” building in Grand Canal Square opens its doors as the Marker Hotel on April 2nd. Apart from its myriad of water features, the new luxury hotel also boasts a trendy ground-floor cocktail bar, 360-degree views from the biggest roof bar in the capital, and Irish art on the walls.

Does Dublin really need another hotel?

“If you asked every hotelier in Dublin last year, there wasn’t enough rooms in town,” says the Marker’s general manager, Charlie Sheil. “Does this area need a hotel? I think it’s crying out for another hotel.”

Located, depending on whom you talk to, in “the theatre district” beside the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre and the O2, in “the legal quarter” with a rash of solicitor firms nearby, and in “Silicon Docks”, cheek by jowl with Google and Facebook, the hotel is looking to lure corporate travellers and weekenders alike.

Sheil says the hotel’s distinctly modern design is inspired by Ireland’s landscape. “The outside of the building reflects the pattern of the Giant’s Causeway, and there is a cave-like effect here in the lobby.”

While a star rating won’t be officially assigned until after the hotel opens, the Marker is targeting the five-star firmament. “I think Dublin needs a new, modern five-star property. There are a lot of very good five-star properties but they are mainly traditional properties,” Sheil says.

The menu, courtesy of former Merrion Hotel chef Gareth Mullins, will be “very much about local food, real Irish food”, said marketing director Roisin O’Sullivan.

At the weekend, the hotel was a riot of vacuuming, bed-making and polishing as its 120 new staff got to grips with their roles. Job numbers will rise to 180 on opening.

It’s a happy ending to a familiar Celtic Tiger tale in which an architect is commissioned to design an iconic building, the developer hits hard times, the bank takes the keys and the building lies idle.

“The building has been here for some time,” says Sheil. “The original developer and builder ran into trouble and they ran out of money and the bank took it back. Several different companies looked at it and then it sat here for about two years.”

Acquired in January 2012 for about €30 million by Midwest, a Swiss-based group with Israeli investors, and Brehon Capital Partners, the hotel is now a member of marketing group, Leading Hotels of the World.

A sister property to Ashford Castle, it will be marketed strongly in North America.

With eight days to opening, the 187-room hotel already has weddings and conference bookings, as well as paid-up members in its €1,300-a-year gym. The hotel has a pre-opening room offer of €169 per night.