Despite being only four days into 2011, I’ve already managed to break two of my three New Year’s resolutions – the first one to go was only to eat desserts on weekends (I devoured an apple crumble and ice cream last night). The second was not to consume any alcohol until my birthday in mid January. Fail on both accounts! Why is it resolutions always feel like a chore and a sacrifice of sorts? They’re supposed to be things that we embrace for a better, healthier life, right?
Having failed miserably so early on, got me thinking how I could flip the situation…the solution lay with my third resolution. Like most people after the season of excess, my third resolution is to detox and treat my body like the ‘temple’ (!) it is. January is also a time when great deals can be had. Not just in the shops but in the hospitality industry. What better way to detox than indulging in a spa break right here in Ireland? Not only are spa breaks a real tonic but booking at this time of year means you can take advantage of some of the seriously fantastic offers available post Christmas. Admittedly most of us are broke and trying to make ends meet until payday at the end of the month. But if you can stretch it, there is fantastic value to be had and it’s something to really look forward to in early spring.
Recently I had the pleasure of spending two glorious days in Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, in the wilds of West Cork. I’ve been to many exotic places around the world but it has to be said it’s hard to beat locations like Inchydoney, right here on our door step. No mad dashes to the airport, flight timetables, security checks, binned lotions & potions over 100mls or luggage restrictions – simply hop in the car (or take a train) at your own leisure and away you go.
A short drive from the town of Clonakilty, Inchydoney is one of those idyllic places where the tourism industry stock up on photo material of the local scenery to market Ireland. It doesn’t even have to be sunny to look amazing. In fact, there’s something stunning about the place with the rain battering down coming in off the Atlantic.
The rooms are very nice indeed. My room was quite minimalist in colour palette (but not stark) with a subtle sense of style that wasn’t in your face. While being modern it felt homely at the same time. Some of the furnishings were quirky which I also liked – in my room I had a fab one-seater rocking lounger covered in black suede. The beds are super comfy and the bathroom is spacious with great shower pressure. Then there’s the private balcony with views of the stunning beaches and Atlantic Ocean. Sheer bliss. The icing on the cake for me was my freshly brewed coffee from my very own personal in-room Nespresso machine. I swear I was expecting George Clooney to pop out of the cupboard!
Renowned for its Thalassotherapy treatments, that use the natural elements of the seawater, I had high expectations for the Spa. It didn’t disappoint. I went for the ‘Elemis Absolute Spa Ritual’ (€190 for a morning or afternoon). This treatment is lush and includes two parts -1) a customised face treatment using Elemis products. My skin was literally still glowing the morning after. Tip for men, make sure to be freshly shaven before any face treatments to get the maximum effect. After my facial I retreated to the relaxation suite where I once again enjoyed views of the raw Atlantic (with surfers bobbing up and down on the waves) and a treat of mini-smoothies and fruit before the second part of my spa ritual. 2) Face complete, it was on to my body with a Muscle Melt Massage which did just that. Anyone, who like me spends a lot of time at a computer, will notice a tenseness across the back of the shoulders. This completely disappeared. I felt completely relaxed afterwards. This treatment exceeded all my expectations.
Aptly named ‘The Gulfstream’, the hotel’s restaurant is quite the gastronomic treat with all the produce sourced locally, organic where possible, with a strong emphasis on quality seafood – so there are plenty of healthy, light options if you are trying to shed some of the Christmas weight. Not being a fish lover personally, I opted for the fillet steak which was simply divine and cooked to perfection. Breakfast is served each morning in the restaurant and whether it’s morning or evening, the panoramic views of the ocean and Irish coast, offer a stunning backdrop to any dining experience. The service is impeccable, with the level of formality you’d expect from such a destination hotel yet with a very friendly touch from the staff who were all very personable. Nothing was a problem and I couldn’t fault the service – this includes reception and front of house staff who from the minute we arrived were all very welcoming.
Final note, if you fancy trying your hand at surfing, the local surf school are brilliant with really fun instructors. There are fantastic walks on the beach but be careful of the quicksand. Something I hadn’t been warned of but discovered by nearly loosing one of my Nike high tops!
I’ve added a fourth resolution – to return to Inchydoney at some stage in 2011!
Check Inchydoney out here.