Soak up the culture and breaktaking scenery along the Co Kerry and Co Cork segment of Irelands national treasure
Take in the spectacular views over some of the most breathtaking ocean views in the world, listen to the finest traditional music in a west Kerry pub or taste the wonderful cuisine created by incredible chefs working with the finest flavour packed produce.
These are just three of the highlights awaiting adventurous travellers and seekers of unique cultural experiences along Ireland's wonderful Wild Atlantic Way.
Whether you're a travel agent researching the off-the-beaten-track boutique break for romancing couples or a tour operator looking for the next big thing, you need to look at the possibilities being offered by this emerging offer from the Emerald Isle.
Journeying along this coastal trail in Ireland's south west region will transport your clients to a different dimension of life, where traffic is not a snarling tailback on a motorway but more often a farmer herding sheep or cows along country roads – and where time is counted in measures of experience and enjoyment rather than billable hours.
Starting off in the market town of Skibbereen, and heading south west towards the charming seaport of Baltimore overlooking the aptly named Roaringwater Bay, your clients will find themselves bearing down upon one of Ireland's (many) undiscovered jewels.
A thriving fishing port and setting-off point for students heading to the Gaeltacht island of Cape Clear – Gaeltacht being the word used to describe areas of the island where the predominantly spoken language is Gaelic – Baltimore is home to some of Ireland's finest seafood restaurants.
And in a maritime country like Ireland, that is truly saying something.
In the romantic surroundings of Casey's of Baltimore, a family-run Hotel and Seafood Restaurant that's been catering to weary travellers for almost 200 years, tourists will feel at their leisure in accommodation that manages to be modern yet still true to the ancient Irish tradition of hospitality.
Michael and Ann Casey's establishment takes self-sufficiency to a new level as those delicious mussels they bring to your guests' tables will be from their own farm and the creamy headed stout will be drawn from their own brewery.
Home-baked brown bread, home grown herbs and vegetables and the freshest fish from the harbour mean that your party will dine like they have never dined before.
This is the ideal base from which to take in further adventures in west Cork, be it on a dolphin spotting voyage out among the islands of Cape Clear, Sherkin and Heir or a drive to Ireland's most southernmost point, the magnificent lighthouse at Mizen Head.
As travellers take the winding westward road – and before they reach Bantry, home to literary, classical and traditional music festivals and a popular stopping-off point for cruise ships – they will reach the charming village of Ballylickey. Here, your party can, in the true tradition of west Cork, step out of their schedule and into the delightful environment of Seaview House Hotel.
Refreshment and rejuvenation
Set amongst four acres of beautifully tended manicured gardens of a sumptuous manor house overlooking Bantry Bay, this is a delightful bolthole for escape and pampering.
A seaweed bath is highly recommended for relaxation and rejuvenation while the Manor's award-winning restaurant with its plentiful supply of fresh seafood is ideal for refreshment and replenishment.
Onwards to Glengarriff where there's a decision to be made.
One option is to take a short cruise out to the rightly famed gardens on Garnish Island, where travellers can watch puffins come to the brow of their boat as they travel to and from the tiny island.
Another is to visit the unique Bamboo Park, home to unique wooden sculptures of world figures and landmarks. (And if the choice seems too much for your clients, there is a third option: do both!)
Ireland's happiest place
Onward through the tunnels of the cliffside road to Kenmare, reputed to be Ireland's happiest place to live and star of As I Leave Behind Neidín, a song made famous by Mary Black. If they spend some time in the colourful seaside port, with its off beat boutiques, bookshops and bars, your clients will quickly come to understand its attractions.
Over the past century since the foundation of the Irish State, visiting royalty and dignitaries have felt at home in Parknasilla Resort and Spa. Multiple French presidents and the King and Queen of Sweden are among the many guests of note to have sought out the legendary luxury and hospitality of the Victorian-era mansion and grounds overlooking Kenmare Bay – not to mention George Bernard Shaw, who proclaimed it to be part of his 'Dream World'.
Gorgeous light-filled rooms, lacking nothing in comfort and style, a range of activities for the very active or the decadent, and more of the finest food prepared by highly skilled chefs are hallmarks of excellence – but what will convince your party of their royal status is the care exercised by everyone from the bar tenders to the management.
As they journey along the Iveragh peninsula, towards the iconic World Heritage Site Skellig Michael island – featured in the most recent Star Wars movies – guests will have soon reach one of Ireland's most beautiful villages, Sneem.
There in the village green is a modern metal sculpture, dedicated to the memory of the late Irish President, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, and donated by the Chinese government. It's an impressive if incongruous memorial in a village which could have been the setting for a John Ford movie, lined with colourful facades and old-fashioned Irish pubs.
Nearby is the Sneem Hotel, a luxurious location in which to stay for guests exploring the Ring of Kerry, taking in classic golf courses at Waterville and Killarney or enjoying a walking holiday along the Kerry Way trail. Sitting on the balcony eating a late breakfast overlooking breathtaking scenes of tree trimmed lakes with majestic mountains in the background, it's possible to be overwhelmed by the beauty of it all.
And it doesn't end there...
The Wild Atlantic Way is a route that takes in eight coastal counties, and it's not unknown for guests to postpone their return home to take in more – or make it an annual trip to eventually complete this quest in the west.
Whichever they choose, this is a holiday in the true sense of the word: an opportunity to taste life as it's meant to be enjoyed, at its wild and wonderful edge.
Trust us – your clients will thank you for it.
About Original Irish Hotels
Original Irish Hotels are a collection of unique, owner-run hotels, located in Ireland’s most outstanding destinations. Open the door to the magic of unmissable moments with Ireland’s leading collection of independent hotels.
Our 60 hotels are dotted around the entire island of Ireland in must-see locations, from the Wild Atlantic Way, to Ireland’s Ancient East, the Causeway Coast, Dublin and the treasured heartland of Ireland’s midlands and lakelands.
Irrespective of where our hotels are, Original Irish Hotels pride themselves in hosting a unique and truly memorable experience for our guests, and soon to be friends. The collection is made up of a range of traditional and boutique hotels, castles, manor and country houses, all run by locals, ensuring a unique experience every time.