On Location in Britain and Ireland

Our On Location partner, Adams & Butler, specializes in elevating your vacation with authentic encounters, tailor-made for you. We caught up with Siobhan Byrne Learat, Founder and CEO of Adams & Butler, to find out what’s new for 2017 and the latest on personalized travel in Britain & Ireland.

Q: Tell us what’s new at Adams & Butler for 2017.

We can arrange for you to stay with an Earl as his guest in his private castle – like having a real Downton Abbey experience. At Crom Castle, Co. Fermanagh, John Crichton, the 7th Earl of Erne and Baron of Fermanagh, and friend of Adams & Butler is offering his home at the family’s ancestral seat to A&B clients wishing to spend a vacation with him as their personal host.

Each day at Crom Castle will be different, your stay is carefully planned with your group choosing from an exclusive list of potential activities. Clients who have done it loved it so much they booked again. This discreet experience is just for Adams & Butler clients and is not available elsewhere.

New properties include:

  • Belle Isle Castle situated on the northern tip of Upper Lough Erne in Fermanagh in Northern Ireland is a 470-acre estate spread over eight picturesque islands with a 17th century castle at its heart – perfect for three generational families, celebratory gatherings and weddings. Owned by the Duke of Abercorn who is happy to host clients for dinners and afternoon teas.
  • Adare Manor, located on the banks of the River Maigue in the picturesque village of Adare, due to open this October. The 840-acre property is currently undergoing extensive restoration and expansion including a new 42-bedroom west wing=, stunning ballroom, new La Mer spa and pool, and a dedicated boardroom and cinema. Tom Fazio will oversee a redesign of Adare Manor’s golf course which will feature cutting-edge SubAir technology.
  • The Hotel that History Built - Titanic Hotel Belfast. September 10th 2017 the hotel will open its doors revealing the history of the former Harland & Wolff Headquarters and the famous Drawing Offices, which have been intricately restored and refurbished to house this luxury hotel. The authentic 1920s bar and lounge will serve fresh cocktails and classic serves matching the nostalgic decadence of the hotel’s hospitality. The tiles around the bar are the very same, original Villeroy and Boch tiles which were also used in Titanic’s swimming pool.

2017 and 2018 see a growth in demand for English experiences and private services such as private visits to the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels, private visits to Highclere and Blenheim Palace home of Winston Churchill, Food tours in Borough Market, Private Shopping Experiences with Jill Sinclair at shops with a Royal Warrant, Behind the Scenes Theatre visits and private tastings of the Rothschild wines at Waddeston Manor. Another popular tour we do is a walking tour of Oxford with a young Oxford Don who takes you to places only known to the inner circles.

Q: What special features of your travel services should we be aware of?

We offer a dedicated 24-hour service and we endeavor to make the experience seamless both for the travel advisor and for the client. We are known for our driver guides and our privileged access to leading experts, specialists, and even the aristocracy.

We are a ’One-Stop Shop’ for Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, designing itineraries on themes such as Gourmet, Heritage, Genealogy, Glitz and Glamour, Gardens, Whiskey, Castles, Art, Vikings, Gay, Jewish, Motorbiking, Ghosts, Follies, Round Towers, Golf, Biking, Hiking, Walking, and Equestrian.

We also have a variety of castles and stately homes available for exclusive rental. Adams & Butler is the only ground handler listed by Conde Nast and Travel + Leisure. Our CEO is a Travel + Leisure A-Lister Agent. What clients love is that we have 800 Toll free numbers from the USA, Canada, and Australia.

Q: What are the most popular requests for cultural experiences this year?

Food – Our Northern Ireland Foodie tours are very popular. A typical example would be spending time with Tracey Jeffery on a foodie trail, making traditional bread, a private visit at Killyleagh Castle with Gawn the owner, a pub lunch at the oldest coaching inn in Northern Ireland - Dufferin Coaching Inn, or harvesting your own oysters for lunch by tractor at Patrice’s Oyster Shac.

Whisky – Very popular is our Private Visit & Tour with Charles MacLean, Scotland’s Leading Whisky Expert, founder member and ex-president of the society and cousin of The MacLean, Chieftain of the clan. He is happy to meet Adams & Butler clients for a private whisky tasting, or as his guest for dinner, at the members only Scotch Malt Whisky Society, or alternatively in his private home.

Genealogy – We can put together a specialized Trace Your Ancestor itinerary using our expert genealogists, where we will do all the groundwork and help you find your ancestral home.

Q: Which new shore excursions are available for cruise ship passengers?

This year we have done a lot of shore trips in Scotland, in particular to the Shetland and the Orkney Islands, visiting Stromness and Kirkwall, and other places such as Invergordon, and Greenock. What sets these trips apart are the local guides – we talk to them as the ship docks and they can see it all from their village cottage windows, before they come down to meet our clients who leave having learned about local history and culture, and visitied ruined castles.

Q: What are your favorite of the castle hotels in Ireland?

I would have to say Ashford Castle because it is amazing. The Tollman’s have spent a lot of money renovating it to become without doubt the best castle hotel in the world. They are constantly adding new things to the estate and have a wonderful hawk walk, falconry school and equestrian center. You can even take the owner’s yacht out on the Lake.

Another favorite has always been Luggala Castle, home to the Guinness family. It was where Michael Jackson stayed when he visited. Wicklow, where Luggala is situated is also known as the garden of Ireland. It has a rich history and John Hurt and Bono have been frequent visitors over the years.

Q: For those wanting to tour the Scottish Highlands, what do you recommend?

One of my best experiences this year was staying at Alladale Wildeness Reserve in Scotland. The food is organic and the owner is committed to providing a sustainable ecosystem on the estate.

There’s an interesting Whisky experience which was a rather unique Food and Scottish Gin & Whiskey Pairing at Dornoch Castle. Dornoch, also home to the famous links golf course Royal Dornoch, is in the heart of the Highland Whisky Trail.

We always keep an eye on the locations of the local Highland Games which combine sport, fun and culture in a uniquely Scottish style. Clients can get in on the action at one of over 80 Highland games taking place across the country.

Also popular for next year is a drive alongside the Scottish version of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way – the North 500 which has stunning spectacular views and landscapes.

And no trip is complete to the highlands with seeing the Harry Potter Jacobite Train.Starting near the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, it visits Britain’s most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig; passes close by the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar and the shortest river in Britain, River Morar, finally arriving next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis. Lovers of the Harry Potter movies will recognize this railway journey as the one Harry took every year to get to Hogwarts castle.

Q: What about options for those wanting to play golf on a links course in Ireland?

My all-time favorite course would be the Old Head in Cork which has really good rooms and restaurants on site. No words can do justice to the views with steep cliffs surrounding the Isthmus on all sides – it has the most breath-taking and awe-inspiring sea views of any links course in the world.

Other must-dos for serious golfers are the Old Course in Ballybunion and Waterville. Lahinch and Doonbeg beside the Cliffs of Moher are also outstanding.

In Northern Ireland, Royal Portrush not far from the Giant’s Causeway and Royal County Down are high on the list.

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