Montalto Estate is undergoing a transformation. Owned by the Wilson family, this estate is being developed into a flagship tourism visitor destination which will be open to the public in 2018.
The 400 acre estate enjoys a prestigious rural location, set in rolling countryside between the world acclaimed Royal County Down links golf course, Newcastle and the Mourne Mountains.
This development of a major tourism initiative will aim to deliver a legacy, hallmark, high value tourism product in response to growing visitor numbers to Northern Ireland. It will also provide a unique destination for the local community. Not least of all, the estate will aim to complement other key visitor attractions already in existence including Titanic Belfast and Hillsborough Castle.
The new buildings which will be traditional in style have been designed to match the estate’s upmarket wedding and event venue, The Carriage Rooms, which opened in 2012.
Montalto Estate is situated on the edge of Ballynahinch: The Island Town. Montalto House was built circa 1765 by the Earl of Moira.
The estate was purchased in the 19th century by the Ker family from Portavo who enlarged and updated the house. The Ker family was also very much involved with developing the town of Ballynahinch itself.
Montalto House and the estate remained in the Ker family until the early 20th century when they were bought by Lord Clanwilliam. The estate was used as a base for US soldiers during the Second World War before the Clanwilliam family sold the estate in 1979.
It was bought by the current owners, the Wilson family, in 1995. They set about returning the estate to its former glory which included major renovation works to reinstate the house and many other parts of the estate to its present condition.
The new plans are an extremely exciting development for Montalto Estate which will not only preserve its heritage but will also ensure its long term future as an important landmark and visitor destination within County Down.
Montalto is an enchanting estate set in magnificent, natural surroundings. The visitor offering includes captivating gardens and walks, a unique eating environment and a distinctive retail element.
When visitors come to Montalto, they can truly feel as though they are stepping into another world as the offering affords many opportunities to enjoy a delightful experience. They’ll leave feeling happy, reconnected and at one with nature, making memories on each and every visit.
The public will have considerable opportunity to explore the substantial beauty of the estate gardens. These are some of the best maintained, not only in Northern Ireland but also further afield. They include many varieties of flora and fauna which will prove a real treat for the horticultural enthusiast. Many years of continued care have already gone into the landscape to enable the gardens to realise their full potential and this is something which will remain a focus for the estate through its continued development.
The grounds will also evolve as home to many woodland animal species which would be less commonly seen in the country. A number of additional garden features that are unique in Northern Ireland will both surprise and delight visitors as they explore the rich offering on the estate.
Visitors will have access to on-site historic nature walks and trails, a large acreage of established and maintained gardens, an ancient historic woodland area and an ornamental lake that have previously not been open to the public.
The walking trails through the woods will add a truly stunning element to the visitor’s experience. A number of trails are currently in development which will add to those already in existence. These include a Lake Trail, Garden Trail and Woodland Trail. The Woodland Trail will also incorporate an exciting play area where children will be able to spend hours learning and exploring the wonderful natural surroundings and terrain.
In order to accommodate anticipated visitor numbers, Montalto Estate is building a visitor centre to include a 120 seat eatery that will promote healthy local produce and seasonal homemade delights. It will also include a retail element where both estate produce and local craft products will be available to purchase amongst many other unique and beautifully designed items.
The new structures being built to accommodate these areas will be in keeping with the existing estate buildings including the adjoining stable yard and The Carriage Rooms. The facilities will be of an impressive build quality and a standard that will reflect the ‘Montalto’ brand. This will incorporate a simple design to tie in with the authentic farmyard feel.
All of this will be coupled with appropriate infrastructure including free car parking, information areas and restrooms facilities with accessibility requirements in mind at all times.
The development at Montalto Estate will be a continuous journey. As part of a long term plan, an Artisan Courtyard will be created. This area will be developed to enable local artists and craftspeople to base themselves at Montalto Estate and create their bespoke products onsite, some of which will be available to purchase in the retail space. This will help to further promote and encourage the fantastic work carried out by NI artists.