We often don’t appreciate what’s right on our doorstep but Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa never fails to impress. Overlooking the wild, or alternatively smooth-as-glass, Atlantic Ocean and two long stretches of golden Blue Flagbeach, there’s a lot to admire before you even step foot inside the luxurious hotel.
So, when Inchydoney issued the invite to spend 24 hours at the seaside hotel with a group of writers, I must admit I was a little bit excited! Over the years, I’ve sampled a few of the hotel’s delights, spending time at the spa with friends or enjoying dinner in the bar with family, attending weddings and Christmas parties, so I can’t complain, but I was always a little bit envious of those waking up to the sight of that wide bottomless blue ocean in the morning.
Anyway, this was my chance, so I packed up the car and drove all the way from Courtmacsherry to Inchydoney. Needless-to-say, I kept it vague when the very friendly staff asked me how was my trip and if I had travelled very far!
After being shown to my room by a very nice young fellow from Drinagh, a quick freshen up, another glance out the large sliding doors at the breathtaking view and I was ready for Afternoon Tea in the Lounge. The handmade chocolates arranged on a piece of slate with ‘welcome’ spelt out were a nice touch in the room. Service and attention to detail are always at the heart of this welcoming hotel.
As the token vegetarian in the group, I was pandered to with a selection of very cute bite-sized cucumber and cheese sandwiches and mini cheese and spinach brioche. There was also a selection of delectable miniature desserts. With introductions made and hunger abated, we headed back to our rooms to prepare for our experience at the unique thalassotherapy seawater spa.
Robed and slippered, I of course managed to get lost in the maze of corridors (you’d never know I was a local), but the same lovely young man came to my rescue and, as I was completely transformed and unrecognisable in my new outfit, we proceeded to exchange the same introductory pleasantries as before, which did give me a bit of a giggle!
The Island Spa at Inchydoney is home to Ireland’s first seawater spa, offering thalassotherapy treatments, as well more traditional spa treatments and rituals. By this time, my plus one had arrived and was already enjoying a swim in the seawater pool. So with a full stomach, I proceeded to float my way over to say hello! I was at risk of floating off to the land of noddy in the seawater therapy pool, which is heated to 31 degrees, but the selection of jets, bubble seats and counter currents within the pool soon had me energised again. Apparently, swimming in water at this temperature opens the pores to absorb nutrients from the seawater. Probably why your skin always feels so soft and smooth after emerging from the pool. After a leisurely few lengths and a catch up, we retired to the relaxation area for a refreshing juice and to await our treatments. A muscle melt massage and facial later and we felt like new people.
As my other half was joining me for dinner, my first plus one headed off home, slightly disgusted! After a quick shower and change, I joined the group for pre-dinner drinks. A couple of apple mohitos later and we were all the best of friends. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever spent such an enjoyable evening with a group of strangers. Perhaps it’s the sound of the sea always in the background, or the hospitality and welcome from the staff, or the ambience of the surroundings – whatever it is, we were all lulled into a very relaxed state and there was lots of laughter and good conversation.
Of course the food and wine helped with that too! With menus created by Head Chef Adam Medcalf and his team in the award-winning Gulfstream Restaurant, it’s always a memorable dining experience. Just as the empty chair next to me was beginning to look very sad, my other half arrived. The food concept at the Gulfstream is is based on modern French and light Mediterranean cuisine, using only the finest oils, pestos, salads and herbs. We both chose a light option to start, the ‘Rosscarbery Rocket, Hegarty’s Mature Cheddar and Shallot Salad with a Balsamic Dressing’ and for mains, himself went with the ‘Pan-fried Hake with a Quinoa and Sundried Tomato Risotto, Fennel, Garlic and Yellow Pepper Salad, Carrot Purée, Broad Bean, Roast Pepper and Dill Cream’ and I (delighted that as a vegetarian I had a choice) had the ‘Roasted Pepper, Courgette and Aubergine Wellington with Roasted BabyVegetables and a Plum Tomato Sauce’. Both were delicious and my vegetarian dish earned a few envious glances from around the table. There is a great selection on the menu all using the freshest local ingredients. For dessert, we had the pannacota and the cheese board, at which stage I decided I’d be too full for breakfast the following morning.
Of course I made room and, feeling well-rested, breakfast overlooking the Atlantic finished off a very memorable 24 hours. We might just have to make the arduous journey again very soon!
A Breakaway Day package includes overnight accommodation for two people sharing, dinner and a treatment each in the spa, from €250 per person sharing. Bed and Breakfast rates available from €95 per person sharing in the summer months.