I’m a firm believer that the ultimate family staycation is one that combines a touch of luxury, with activities for children. Fota Island Resort has both in abundance.
When I was invited to write a review of Fota Island Resort – a five-star hotel with Fota Wildlife park nearby, I jumped at the chance. We have enjoyed a Dublin Zoo family pass for many years; we are animal lovers who also happen to be fond of nice hotels, this seemed like the perfect family staycation.
After a short two and a half hour drive from Dublin we arrived at ‘the island’. I had never really paid much attention to the name before but when we drove into the lavish grounds and arrived at Fota Island Resort, the penny suddenly dropped, we were in fact on an island! The gardens are superb (more on that later) and first impressions were really good. I couldn’t help but notice the pretty bronzed sculptures throughout the gardens and my daughter Alex was quick to notice them too 😍
My Alex beside #aliceinwonderland @fotaislandresort 😍 There lots of these little #sculptures around the grounds in #fotaislandresort – so pretty! . . . . . . #luxuryhotel #cork #fota #ireland #familytravel #family #bankholidayweekend #familytime #familyfun #luxurytravel #sculpture #bronze #instacork #instaireland #holidays #familyholiday
We stayed at one of the new Fuchsia lodges, which were outstanding. Just check out my video below and you will see what I mean! The three bedroom lodge (house being more accurate) has a ‘good room’, a massive living area with modern kitchen, and a perfect back garden for the kids to roam around.
Upstairs all three bedrooms are ensuite and two have walk in wardrobes! There is also a balcony off the master bedroom with views across the grounds. Rabbits were constantly bouncing around the garden so when the kids weren’t outside chasing them, the balcony was a great viewing point!
I was conscious that there are only six of these available for rent so I made a point of looking at the Courtyard Lodges too. I was really impressed with these also and they also have the advantage of are also beside a great outdoor playground. I was thinking how handy it would be to relax in your lodge while the kids played happily beside you.
The Fota Island Resort hotel has a warm cosy feel, with dark bog oak furniture in large lounge areas. Personally I preferred the bright modern décor of the lodges, but I couldn’t help but think that it would be fantastic at winter time, especially with the log fire blazing ❤.
I also investigated the hotel rooms and found them bright and spacious with modern decor. Fota Island Resort offers great facilities for children including a kids club and an indoor swimming pool. My kids loved the pool, however we didn’t have time to try the kids club on this occasion.
During school holidays the Fota Camp operates daily for children aged 4-12 and there is also an adrenaline adventure centre for children aged 8 and over. Children will love the obstacle course and can try kayaking, learn about bush craft and lots more. Budding golfers will love their golf camp – suffice to say there are camps to cater for all children.
We enjoyed tasty meals in the bar and Fota Restaurant, although perhaps not five star standard, but they offered an excellent kids menu. I noticed many groups of girls enjoying afternoon tea so I asked how they were getting on. They had booked a spa package which came with this incredible array of food. It seems Fota Island Resort is not just ideal for families!
I mentioned the lavish grounds earlier and thankfully on our last morning I look the opportunity to walk around them. There are numerous walking trails from 2.5km to 7km, each one was better than the next. You can walk through woods, along the golf course (did I mention there is a championship golf course here?) and along the waters edge.
I spotted wildlife at every turn, red squirrels, rabbits and exotic birds; along with, I was told, the finest collections of rare trees and shrubs to be found in Ireland. Children will love the new Fota fairy trail, that has over 20 magical Fairy Doors hidden throughout the woods.
You can also choose to walk the 1.7km to the wildlife park, but with two young kids in tow, we decided to drive. After a few short minutes we were at Fota Wildlife Park.
We were only in the park a few minutes when my son spotted a peacock roaming around. This set the tone for the entire day. Everywhere we looked there were animals roaming free, it was so refreshing to see. My son was re christened ‘the spotter’ because he constantly spotted animals hiding in nearby hedges.
There were wallabies hopping through the parkland and lemurs scampering up trees. We planned our visit around the Cheetah’s feeding time and seeing them run at an incredible speed was quite special. My son, Luke (9) was mesmerised.
After the cheetah ‘show’ we strolled pass the numerous giraffe and bison and arrived at the Asian sanctuary ,where lions and tigers were happy to meet us.
Loved @fotawildlife, was surprised at how easy it was to get up close with all the animals. Of course the cats were behind fences but there were no big crowds so getting good pics was relatively easy! #Love big #cats anyway, my favourite ❤ . . . . . . #catsofinstagram #cheetah #tiger #lion #wildlife #holidays #familyholiday #instacork #instaireland #fota #fotaislandresort #family #familyholiday #holidays #familyfun #familyday #familytime #familytravel @visitcork_ie #cork #bankholidayweekend
The 100 acre park is very easy to navigate and it wasn’t long before we were at the lakeshore. This was our highlight. We got up close and personal with kangaroos and lemurs as well as the hundreds of friendly birds, ducks and geese. They even have a food dispenser (50cent). The kids loved feeding the birds and geese, the odd peck added to the excitement.
The kangaroos are so used to visitors you can easily stand right beside them and get some amazing photographs. After a three hour visit we decided to hop on the train back to the entrance. It only costs a €1 so if you have tired children, this is a Godsend. We all loved the wildlife park, in fact I have already been asked when we are going back.
I love the look of excitement on Luke’s face in this shot! We got so close to #kangaroos at @fotawildlife park. They just wander around, it’s so cool, and there lots of other animals roaming free too, the kids loved it. A great family day out 👍 We are staying at @fotaislandresort which is only minutes from the park. . . . . . . #outdoors #familyfun #familytime #familytravel #instacork #follow #followme #fota #wildlife #safari #zoo #animals #bankholidayweekend #outdoorfun #familyday
Fota Island Resort also has the luxury of being only minutes from the pretty Cork town of Cobh. Famous for being the Titanic’s last port of call in 1912, you can’t help but fall in love with this historic town.
Take a the Titanic experience tour or have lunch in the Titanic bar. There is also a heritage centre and museum. If you fancy a boat trip, take a trip to Spike Island and explore the fortress that held 2300 prisoners. The town itself is pretty with lots of shops, bars and restaurants and the colourful streets are an instagram favourite.
I would highly recommend Fota Island Resort for a family break away. The proximity to Cobh and the Fota Wildlife park combined with a luxurious family friendly hotel and excellent lodges, make for a truly memorable holiday.
For more information visit FotaIsland.ie