When the Lough Erne Golf Resort opened its doors for the first time just over a year ago, proprietors Jim and Eileen Treacy achieved their lifetime ambition — the creation of a five star international golf resort in the truly spectacular setting of Co. Fermanagh’s lake lands in Northern Ireland. Located just outside Enniskillen, the new luxury resort boasts five-star dining and remarkably attentive service, whether you stay in the 125-bedroom hotel or opt for one of the 25-luxury three bedroom lodges on the shores of Castle Hume Lough, near Lower Lough Erne. Each room in the resort offers wraparound views of the water and the undulating greens of the world-class golf course, designed by the legendary Nick Faldo. “We’re just at the start of something that is genuinely going to be huge,” Lough Erne general manager Jonathan Stapleton tells the Irish Voice. “We can all eulogize about it, but you really have to come and see it to believe it. When we say five stars, we really mean it. We want to combine old world charm with new world luxury.” To that end the rooms at Lough Erne are beautifully designed by the celebrated Irish interior decorator Dermot Hegarty, thoughtfully including must-have modern items like free Wi-Fi, a mini-bar, a tea and coffee station, and a free standing bath and shower — all of which you will find in every room. For added luxury Lough Erne also includes an authentic Thai spa offering eight treatment rooms, a soothing relaxation room, a thermal suite and a beautiful mosaic 14-meter swimming pool. The emphasis is on renewal and comfort for the mind, body and the spirit. Lough Erne Resort is the only Northern Ireland Tourist Board and also AA officially approved five-star resort of its kind in the country, and it achieved this distinction within one year of opening the doors — an unheard of achievement. The new resort is also handily situated at the gateway to Ireland’s north west, which means visitors can use it as a base to visit the walled city of Derry, historic Sligo, or the wild and unforgettable shoreline of Donegal, home to some of the world’s best golf links. Says Stapleton, “The owners of the resort are local people, and they couldn’t be more invested in the success of the place. It’s a truly inspirational resort and a truly inspirational golf course. “As we’re situated on a lake, 14 of the 18 holes involve water, so there’s going to be new employment for some enterprising scuba divers looking for golf balls.” The resort’s designers were inspired to build a tempting halfway house on stilts at the ninth hole, so that hungry golfers would have a perfect view of Lough Erne from the well-appointed dining room. “This is not the usual kind of halfway house where you can get a burger and fries,” says Stapleton. “Instead you’ll pick up the phone on the seventh tee and order ahead, and once you arrive at the ninth hole it will all be ready for you. But at night the place really comes into its own as a two to four-seat exclusive restaurant looking out over the lough.” Lough Erne’s executive chef Noel McMeel, most recently a chef at Manhattan’s famed Le Cirque, is thrilled to find an Irish venue worthy of his world-class talents. “I grew up on a farm in Toomebridge near to the village where Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney spent his childhood. We were always self-sufficient and so I have carried the simplicity with me in my cooking,” McMeel tells the Irish Voice. “I believe in letting the produce tell everything. Irish produce is the best in the world. Having worked in so many places I have seen that it really is true. I’ve long had a passion for creating food that is scrumptious, yet simple.” But passion alone is not enough. Experience is paramount, and McMeel has been able to hone and refine his craft working with some of the world’s great chefs at the Watergate in Washington, D.C. and Chez Panisse in San Francisco. “I carry this approach into everything I do. Whether it’s designing a sparkling menu for a society wedding, creating a taste adventure for my customers at home in Ireland, or magicing up a culinary treat for a guest, everything I do revolves around taste and the senses,” he says. Located on a vast 600-acre estate, the entire resort has been painstakingly designed to compliment and reflect its surroundings. The emphasis is on calm and serenity and best of all, you’ll feel like you have the place all to yourself, making the resort one of the world’s most magical destinations. For more information and photographs, visit www.loughernegolfresort.com.