Blackwell celebrates first year with prestigious tourism award

Stephen and Joyce Brownlees of Blackwell House are presented with the 5 star guest house certificate by Mr John McGrillen of Tourism Northern Ireland. Also pictured is Lord Mayor Cllr Daryn Causby. INPT3915-421
Stephen and Joyce Brownlees of Blackwell House are presented with the 5 star guest house certificate by Mr John McGrillen of Tourism Northern Ireland. Also pictured is Lord Mayor Cllr Daryn Causby. INPT3915-421

Nestled high in the Drumlins near Scarva, Blackwell House has been toasted by top officials in tourism for their excellence in hospitality.

Run by high-flying couple Joyce and Steve Brownlees, Blackwell House is one of only three five star guest houses in Ireland and is celebrating its first birthday.

After leaving her executive job in London, Joyce returned to her home in Scarva with husband Steve and refurbished the fabulous Blackwell House into a sumptuous country house.

The pair had been well used to global travelling and saw a niche market in Ireland for luxury guest house stays rather than the more mundane hotels.

Keen cooks, they have studied with the best, including top chef Raymond Blanc. Dining at Blackwell is around a beautifully decorated country table with guests treated to fine wine and a menu of fabulous food. Joyce’s homemade breads are a particular treat.

The couple have focussed on a country homely feel to their wonderful house. And although it is a large magnificent house, it is packed with the personal artefacts of their well-travelled life plus family photos and antiques.

Joyce spent more than a year working to bring it to its current splendour. The furnishings and attention to detail are superb.

Blackwell House is a place to unwind with a choice of three gorgeous en-suite rooms to choose from.

Sinking into the Colonial Room’s four poster bed is a wonderful luxury and the views from the room over the magnificent gardens are tranquil.

You can lounge on the comfy armchair by the huge mantlepiece which is laden with books and fascinating souvenirs of Joyce and Steve’s time travelling in Africa.

It is luxurious relaxation with all the charm of homely living.

The pair have been busy with almost full occupancy since they started more than a year ago.

Guests from across the globe have enjoyed their hospitality, from mainly Germany but also Asian countries as well as locals from the UK and Ireland.

Judging by online reviews, hospitality, fabulous tasty cooking and sumptuous surroundings have made it an international success.

They also have evening meals for those who just don’t wish to stay but want a taste of their delicious meals.

Asked why they decided to start a five star country house, Joyce told of her passion for excellence. She knew when she started that she wanted to have a home which catered for those who expect high quality.

This year they were awarded a Silver Award in the Green Tourism Business Scheme.