As we all know, Ireland is one of the most picturesque destinations in the world. With our stunning scenery and landscape, we are also known for having exceptionally high standards’ of restaurants, hotels and of course the Ceád Míle Faílte, that no other country in the world can compete with. Unfortunately, our climate is less than desirable but not withstanding that, I still consider Ireland to be one of the best tourist destinations in the world.
This Summer, I opted to have a stay cation and decided to go to the 5-star luxury resort, The Castlemartyr, located 25 minutes east of Cork City. I wanted to go to a resort that had all amenities, so that once I drove through the magnificent gates and came to the end of the sweeping driveway, that I could park the car and stay within the lavish resort until my time of departure – and that I certainly did!
Without doubt, Castlemartyr has the ‘wow’ factor on arrival, but that feeling stays with you for the duration of your stay.
I was welcomed by a very friendly member of the concierge team and further welcomed by the lovely team on reception. Sometimes, in 5-star hotels there can be quite a stiff atmosphere but even though this hotel has unrivalled luxury, they have a wonderfully warm and welcoming atmosphere that almost makes you feel that you are being welcomed into their home.
Following on from check-in, I was then brought to my room by concierge and this is where the ‘wow’ factor continued. The rooms at Castlemartyr are incredibly plush and luxurious. Even though the decor is in keeping with the style of hotel, the guest services within the room are state of the art. Each room is equipped with touch screen controls for the lighting system, air-conditioning and blackout curtains. They also have flatscreen televisions and Nespresso machines as standard. The bathrooms are equally special as they are a stunning white and grey marble with a large bath, separate rainforest shower and separate toilet – I like this in hotel bathrooms but it is normally a feature in 5-star hotels outside of Ireland. And for my favourite and most important feature of any hotel room – the bed…… The hotel beds are a cocoon of comfort and it is very evident that the thread count used is very high in the bed linen. I think if I were to chose a bed to sleep in forever, it would be in Castlemartyr.
After freshening up, I went to the Bell Tower Restaurant for the signature Lady Fitzgerald Afternoon Tea. Even if you are not a resident in the hotel, this is an experience that I would highly recommend. I had come previously with my mum on one occasion and with the girls for a baby shower on another. The crisp white linen, freshly cut flowers and delicate china on the tables in the dining room transport you to another era. The food is truly exquisite. Afternoon tea is a rather indulgent way to spend an afternoon but indulgently blissful. The sweet and savoury tiers were excellently presented and I thoroughly enjoyed every last crumb.
After afternoon tea, I took a walk through the grounds of Castlemartyr Resort from one of the 3 designated estate walks that the reception provided with route mapping. And even though, Irish weather can be unpredictable to say the least, the weather for me was glorious. I partially felt that perhaps the sun always shines behind the high walls of this mystical & magical estate.
Castlemartyr Resort is equipped with 2 restaurants and for the first night, I decided to dine in their Italian Restaurant, Franchini’s. This restaurant would be the less formal dining room but still maintains the very high level of food and guest service. The restaurant ambience is very warm and very relaxed. It boasts an extensive menu and again, if you are not a resident of the hotel, I would highly recommend a visit to this little gem. They have an excellently priced early bird menu available with a great selection of dishes.
We had the shared tasting plate to start followed by a pizza and a pasta dish. This restaurant is the perfect option for parents travelling with children too as it has a conveniently located playroom right next to the restaurant so that parents can keep an eye on their little ones whilst enjoying their meal. Happy children = Happy parents. These touches show that Castlemartyr take their guest service facilities very seriously so that guests have a very relaxing and enjoyable break whilst holidaying at the hotel. I did notice too a children’s club that kept the children entertained during the day but they also had a facility whereby the children would have ‘high tea’ together so that the parents could enjoy some time alone for dinner and drinks.
The following day, after breakfast, we went to the spa for the Castlemartyr Signature Treatment. The spa at Castlemartyr is an Espa spa and it one of the best assets of the resort. The staff at the spa are immaculately groomed, extremely professional and very well trained and knowledgeable about all aspects of the treatments and Espa product range. My therapist was Lisa on the day.
The signature treatment begins with a back exfoliation, followed by a back mask. While the mask is setting, the therapist gave a full leg massage. After the leg massage, the mask was removed and I had a glorious hot stone massage on my back. After this, I had a facial followed by a scalp massage. It was a glorious 75 minutes where I drifted into a slumber at various points of the treatment. This treatment is currently on offer for only €99 but it is for a very limited time and you can book here.
After relaxing in the dark relaxation room and spending time in the vitality suite, we decided that we were peckish and headed for lunch to the Pod bar and restaurant at the fabulous clubhouse at the golf club. We were welcomed by the lovely John who is the manager and he reserved a gorgeous table outside overlooking the golf course. The Pod serve food 7 days per week from 12.30pm-9pm and reservations are not essential. The menu here is very extensive and very reasonable too. They have a great selection of salads, sandwiches, chicken curry, burgers and much more. The ambience is relaxed and warm. The staff are all excellent and really make you feel welcome at the Golf Club. The Pod is a lovely spot too for non residents or non members as a nice casual spot for a bite of dinner and some drinks. I definitely look forward to returning to The Pod on another occasion during the Summer and enjoying the beautiful outdoor seating and watching some live golf from the best seats in the house.
That evening, we had a wonderful treat as the guest relations manager, Trevor organised a cocktail making class in the Presidential Suite of the hotel. The Presidential Suite at Castlemartyr is without doubt, the most impressive suite that I have ever seen.
The cocktail class itself was so much fun and you can see the class just here on my Facebook site. I would highly recommend this activity for groups that are coming to the hotel for a mini break. I think that these activities are a really fun way to start an evening and they get the full group having fun together. It would perfectly suit a group of girls whether it is a get together, a birthday party or a glamorous hen party. Trevor really made the evening so much fun for us and he makes the best cocktails in the house! After the class finished, we retired to the living room of the suite to enjoy a delicious cup of gin & tonic. He served the Hendricks gin in a beautiful china tea pot – they certainly know how to create a very stylish event in Castlemartyr. Tea never tasted so good…. There are rumours that “The Sandra & Trevor Show” will be live soon again and we are in talks with producers about a champagne cocktail special show,
After a busy hour making (and drinking) cocktails, we proceeded down the breathtaking grand stair case and returned to where our trip began, The Bell Tower restaurant. The Bell Tower will give you a dining experience that you will not forget. The kitchen team are led by the very talented Kevin Burke, who uses locally sourced produce and delivers an incredibly high standard of food in this restaurant. The floor service in this dining room is very professional but again very welcoming so that even though it is a formal dining room, it is very relaxing. This restaurant was definitely the dining highlight for me personally. The Bell Tower really is the pièce de résistance of The Castlemartyr Resort. To start, I have the crispy hens egg with chicken wing and roasted artichoke.
My friend had the tempura monkfish with roast heirloom tomato and cumin curry aioli.
For the main, we both went for the roast Irish hereford fillet of beef with potato terrine, beef beignet, carrot and spinach purée.
For dessert, I had the brown sugar tart with banana, toffee, butter popcorn and ice cream.
I can honestly say that this meal was completely flawless. The food was ambrosial from the starter right though to the dessert. Even as I write this piece, my mouth is watering remembering the delicious feast that we enjoyed on the last night. The Bell Tower restaurant is a very special dining experience and one that is a very memorable experience.
In essence, The Castlemartyr has it all. It is a resort in every description of the word and one that you do not need to leave once you arrive. The staff provide a 5 star service and display exceptional levels of customer care to all of their guest. The hotel has a very warm, welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. The beauty of having 3 different restaurants on site mean that you can have as casual or formal an evening that you want to have. On this occasion, I did not have time to visit the leisure centre but it does boast a very impressive swimming pool with an even more impressive gym. The leisure centre also do fitness classes so maybe I’ll return to the hotel for bootcamp some time after having a rather indulgent visit on this occasion!! Either way, I had a truly wonderful experience at the resort and I look forward to visiting again soon.