Wednesday 17 January 2018

Irish jet-setters hit slopes in French ski resort for the rich and famous

DAA reveals that the number leaving the country for a break this Easter is up 6pc on last year

Holiday time: The luxury ski resort of Courchevel, in the French Alps is now a favourite with Irish skiers
Holiday time: The luxury ski resort of Courchevel, in the French Alps is now a favourite with Irish skiers
Michelle McGrath enjoyed the Cliffs of Moher with her boyfriend Cathal Pendred Photo: Patrick O'Leary
Model Nadia Forde in Co Wicklow Photo: David Conachy
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

The double bonus of St Patrick's Day and the Easter break has sparked a mass exodus of Irish to their favourite European getaways this weekend.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has revealed that the equivalent of a "Croke Park stadium full of people" has flooded through the arrival and departure gates every day between Good Friday and tomorrow Easter Monday - a 6pc jump when compared to the same period last year.

France, Portugal, Spain and a number of Europe's leading luxury ski resorts are all popular among Ireland's sun-worshippers this Easter but the location for elite Irish holiday-makers has been the ultra-glamorous Alpine village of Courchevel in the French Alps.

Known as the 'playground of the oligarchs', it lures A-list celebrities and royals. And if the name sounds familiar it's because it was recently revealed as the secret skiing destination for Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Flying the flag for the Irish, members of the Gallagher family, who run the successful Doyle hotel group, are enjoying the five-star alpine getaway.

Bernie Gallagher's daughter Nicole is among the south Dublin set kicking back in the resort filled with five-star hotels, Michelin- starred restaurants and designer shopping outlets.

Reserved for the uber-elite, the resort even has its own airstrip right on the slopes, where dozens of private jets land each day in peak season. Businessman and former Treasury Holdings boss, Richard Barrett, was recently spotted at Courchevel, enjoying a spot of lunch in the company of a friend.

But it's not just ski resorts that are catching our attention. Siobhan Moore, head of external communications for the DAA, says that of the 305,000 people coming and going through Dublin airport this weekend. "The Canary Islands and Spanish coastal resorts are the most popular sunshine destinations this Easter."

Norah Casey was one of those spotted sipping rose in Orange Square in the old town of Marbella with her son Dara before heading to Seville for the Easter processions.

Dubai is another hotspot that the young Irish, including flame-haired model and former Miss Ireland Aoife Walsh, are making the most of.

And Moore explains that the extended school break has also made parents footloose and fancy free: "The Easter holidays started this year around St Patrick's Day so the kids have been on holidays all the way through Easter until April 4, which has given families a much longer break and many now want to make the most of it.

"Last year Dublin airport recorded its largest growth ever in a single year so you have to remember the 6pc increase is again on top of that.

"And of course, because of the 1916 celebrations, you have lots of people coming to spend the weekend here in Ireland."

Notably this year, many of Dublin's social set are enjoying low-key breaks around Ireland.

While we are used to seeing them in a sunny location, cocktail in hand, they are choosing hiking and hill-walking in some of the most beautiful corners of the island.

Bill and Jackie Lavin are in Kerry for the bank holiday weekend; Colette Fitzpatrick has gone Easter egg-hunting with her children in Tipperary; Vogue Williams is in Cork, while models Nadia Forde and Sarah Kavanagh enjoyed walking the Sugarloaf; fellow beauty Michelle McGrath enjoyed the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare with her long-term boyfriend UFC fighter, Cathal Pendred.

Last year the number- one destination for yummy mummies and their families was Quinta do Lago. With the sunshine, five-star golf courses and sandy white beaches in Luz, Silves and Sagres, the Irish have brought the party to town.

Yvonne Keating, Miriam O'Callaghan, developer Joe O'Reilly, TV3's Colette Fitzpatrick, bankers, and wealthy retirees have all sought time out here.

The south of France is another hot destination. One Irish regular explains: "In Eze, Anjuna Plage is where the Irish hang out. You'll find the yummy mummies sipping cocktails and the husbands reading their papers."

Sunday Independent

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