Wednesday, January 30, 2013


It's a long time since I went to a luxury spa and wrote a review. Back in my heyday when I worked in newspapers, free invitations to go to 5* spas in Cyprus used to be a welcome perk of my job. How lucky I was.

Ahhh how I loved those jobs...

Fast forward six years and I'm a stay-at-home mum-of-3 writing for the sake of saving my sanity and trying to get back into journalism.

Before Christmas I went with some friends to the wonderful Castlemartyr Resort in east Cork. Even though it's only 20 minutes down the road from me, I'd never set foot in the place before.

The occasion was my friend's 40th, so we decided to treat her and ourselves to an afternoon of rare pampering.

These are my feelings about the place:

It definitely has the wow factor. Immediately you know that you are in for a pampering (yippie) as you are shown into luxury rooms with top quality furnishings, lighting and fittings.

Old world charm with modern classical design. A beautiful marbled glass wall in the relaxation suite and huge windows looking out onto peaceful gardens. The hydrotherapy jacuzzi is like a small infinity pool next to the biggest glass windows I've ever seen so the effect is one of awe as you gaze outside whilst your muscle are being soothed.

Top-notch. The effect of the place is upper class but I was a bit confused by the lack of space. There doesn't appear to be a changing room for the spa. We were shown into a small locker area next to a sink and hairdrying area. This was very tight for four of us to get undressed into our robes whilst someone else was sitting down drying their hair. 

There was only one toilet also, which meant we had to keep the massage therapists waiting because we all needed to go at once!

The pool is not integrated into the spa, so if you want to go into the pool after your treatment then you have to walk in your robe downstairs, past the spa reception and through to the pool area. We thought this was too much of a faff; when you're relaxing, you're relaxing, and you want things to be right next to each other, not a long walk away. Instead we used the hydropool and sauna (but not the steam room because this wasn't working).

Sounds silly, but I LOVED the posh Java Republic tea bags they offer in the relaxation suite where we hung out for hours after our massages. We were probably only supposed to stay in there for one cup of tea, but what happens when you put four women with ordinarily 11 kids between them in a room full of posh tea, fruit and no kids, give them a wonderful massage and then tell them to laze around on beds? Yep, we'll move in for the whole day.

The staff were very nice not to say anything to hurry us along, and somehow must have delicately located the women who had massages after us in a secret overspill suite - I wonder if it had a changing room and another toilet in there?

Yep, we made a day of it, finishing up by having afternoon tea - I don't think you can use crude words like 'lunch' in the Castlemartyr hotel. Champagne and high tea and neat little BLT sandwiches. Yummy. I felt like a whole different person after my day; calm, happy, grounded, and delighted to have had time off from my kids. Oh if only I could afford to do this more often.

It's not cheap - I think I paid E70 for a simple back massage (the cheapest they had on offer), but it gets you into the spa for the afternoon where you can cocoon yourself in the luxury of grown up conversation and not having to give out to the kids for a few hours. Bliss.


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