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Castlebrook: breathing life into luxury design

September 20, 2019 No Comments

Market leading bespoke furniture and joinery company taking luxury design from concept to reality for over 35 years.

“We take what they design, and turn it into reality. We’re design engineers,” explains Joe Friel, Head of UK Business at Castlebrook, of his company’s niche expertise.

“We partner with owners, operators, interior designers, architects, contractors and other creative stakeholders to really understand their vision for luxury hotels and residences. We source and procure the materials, project manage the execution, the timelines and the budgets. We bring it to life, we make it happen.”

Established in 1982, Castlebrook began by specialising in the high-end domestic market. Then a project came along with a hotel in Wicklow, Ireland, quickly followed by expansion into the UK and beyond – and they’ve never looked back.

Castlebrook first entered the UK market under an initiative run by Enterprise Ireland, the trade and innovation agency.

“Enterprise Ireland introduced us to clients in the UK both directly and through networking events,” explains Friel. “The boost they gave us at launch would have taken us a lot longer to achieve ourselves. Over time, we built our own client bases in the UK, but that initial support was instrumental.”


Managing luxury

The impressive Castlebrook portfolio includes cosmopolitan hotels in Paris and Cairo, and also some of the most well-known hotels in London, including the The Connaught, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, and the Intercontinental Park Lane.

“There’s a really nice balance of heritage projects on the one hand, and brand-defining projects on the other,” reflects Friel. “That keeps it interesting and challenging, which is where we excel. Getting to work on something as iconic as The Connaught is very special – there’s a lot of responsibility there to get the detail right, to be authentic. Equally, it’s incredibly exciting to work on a flagship hotel, like The Biltmore, that is setting out its identity.”

On leafy Grosvenor Square, The Biltmore will be LXR Hotels & Resorts’ first property in both the UK and Europe. The hotel is the result of a collaboration between Hilton and Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, and therefore a defining statement for LXR Hotels & Resorts.

“With the Biltmore, we wanted to create a luxury hotel with unique craftsmanship and modern sophistication,” said a spokesman for Millennium Hotels and Resorts.

“But it was also important to us that we were working with a partner who could respond quickly to the project’s demands, who could bridge the gap between the project team and the design team. And we needed someone on our team who could fast-track the project and work within the budget available. Castlebrook helped us achieve all of that, and we’ve been really impressed with the results.”

According to Friel, being an agile team, as well as having boots on the ground is essential, “Every project is different. Everything changes from one project to the next: the client’s needs, the relationships involved, and the timelines. Strong project management and relationship management skills are essential – as well as an ability to solve design problems.

“That being forefront in our approach, it was imperative for us to have an office in London. We took time to build a really strong team in our London office so that we can deliver on all fronts. The value of being able to meet face-to-face with clients, and to be able to have eyes on the project as it evolves, should never be underestimated. So our London base is key to the work we do here.”


She Built That

Castlebrook’s success exemplifies the diversity of businesses that operate in the wider UK construction industry.

“At one end, the construction industry is all about the building sites, how the actual structure comes together. But once the physical building is there, there’s a lot more work that happens – and all of that comes under that wider industry umbrella. So we are delighted to have participated in She Built That and show people what else goes on in the sector,” says Friel.

She Built That was an evening of panel discussions and networking organised by Enterprise Ireland on 19 September 2019. “We wanted to celebrate the range of careers in the construction industry as a whole,” says Anne Corr, UK Construction Market Advisor. “Clients like Castlebrook have been very generous in sharing their knowledge with attendees, and also in offering work experience and tours of their London projects to She Built That candidates.

The skills gap facing the UK construction industry at the moment is a challenge. But we hope that by showing young people the wide range of inspiring and fulfilling career opportunities that are available in the sector, we can help to change that.”

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