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Spa-tastic escapes: Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa, West Cork

A break in Ireland that truly lets you get away from it all is hard to find, but Inchydoney in West Cork is top of my list. With its spectacular views over the Atlantic, fresh ocean air and miles of beautiful beach walks, Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa is a tranquil retreat with a world class spa to boot.

Arriving in Inchydoney on a sunny day, you’d be hard pressed to guess this is Cork. With the light sandy beach, the palm trees on the hotel’s doorstep and the resort-like appearance of the hotel, it doesn’t scream ‘Ireland!’. No, instead it screams ‘relaxation!’ Or should I say it gently whispers it. So far so good…

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The hotel: My favourite thing about Inchydoney was the constant backing track of waves. No matter where you were in the hotel, the gentle rustle and crash of waves could be heard faintly in the backdrop, hypnotically creating a sense of calm. Inchydoney is a four star hotel so you can get back to basics and indulge in as much ‘me time’ as you need without missing out on any of your comforts. The plush, contemporary rooms make the most of the picturesque setting by offering private balconies that look out on the beach and ocean. Each morning I curled up with a book and a coffee and let the fresh sea air revive me. It’s easy to see why the legend that is Angela Lansbury – yes, the Jessica Fletcher – fell in love with West Cork. Without getting all ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, if I ever write a book, I’m moving to West Cork and becoming a writing recluse here. If it’s good enough for Angela…

Its romantic location makes Inchydoney a dream spot for a couples retreat or a girlie spa break but I found the relaxed environment to be just the tonic for a solo traveller who needs time to get away. The chance to stop, breathe and switch off is rare and I savoured every minute. Many places claim to be – cliche time! – an ‘oasis of calm’ but, if you want to clear your head and just shut up for a second, this is the place.

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The spa: As winner of numerous awards, including Ireland’s Leading Spa Resort three times at the World Travel Awards, it’s unsurprising that most guests come for the Island Spa. Inchydoney is Ireland’s only dedicated Thalassotherapy spa (for the non-spa fiends, this means they use seawater for medical reasons) so the treatments are all about the benefits of seawater.

Spa veterans looking for something special should book a Sunshine Experience., a spa treatment unique to Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa and created by its highly experienced Spa team.  The Sunshine Experience uses the fruity, summer scents of lemon, orange, lychee and grapefruit and will inject a shot of summer sun into any wintry day. The treatment consists of a thorough body scrub to remove toxins and scrub off dead skin cells, soothing body wrap, shiatsu scalp massage and oil application. Focusing on Shiatsu pressure points, the treatment both relaxes the body and helps release feel good hormones. The Sunshine Experience costs approx. €99 and my tired skin has never felt better. For daily relaxation, make it your business to take a dip in the heated seawater therapy pool.

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The food: Dining at Inchydoney is the perfect complement to the spa experience. Watch the tide roll in and out at the Gulf Stream Restaurant, with its expansive views over the beach and ocean. The menu is all about supporting local producers so it includes West Cork culinary delights, like Dunmanway rabbit, West Cork Summer Berry soup and Atlantic salmon. Head chef Adam Medcalf adapted the menu for me so I had a whopper nine course vegetarian tasting session – yes, nine courses and each one boasted impressive presentation.

The only problem I had with Inchydoney is how far away it is from everything if you’re a non-driver so, unless you take a leaf out of my book and do a Garbo, if you want to see more of West Cork, you really do need to bring the car. Or, if the tranquillity of Inchydoney gets too much for you (unlikely!), a taxi into Clonakilty costs just €10 so you can have a pint or catch a band in DeBarras. Whatever you get up to, a few days at Inchydoney will do wonders for even the most stressed out soul – trust me, I know.

Check out more pics from my stay at Inchydoney here:

Bits ‘n pieces:

Cost:  Inchydoney currently has a ‘Holiday at Home’ package from €248 per person sharing, including 2 nights in a deluxe ocean view room, a full Irish breakfast each morning in the Gulfstream Restaurant and a choice of one activity such as Fish for your Dinner (in case you can’t tell, this is a day fishing and then you cook your catch), Wonderful Whale Watching or Magical Moonlight Kayaking.

Book: Call (023) 8833143 or log onto www.inchydoneyisland.com

For more information on things to do in West Cork, visit www.discoverireland.ie.

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