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Staycations and Short Breaks on RTE’s Marian Finucane Show

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As the summer draws to a close why not grab a last minute getaway. I have city breaks in Madrid, Lisbon and Rome, and Irish breaks in Kilkee, Belfast, Enniscorthy, Enniskerry and Westport. Here are my recommendations for staycations and short breaks as discussed on RTE’s Marian Finucane Show this morning.

The Travel Expert, Sarah Slattery on RTE's Marian Finucane ShowFollow me on facebook

August break to Madrid

Late August is always a good time to get a deal and this year is no exception. Kids are ready to go back to school and those looking for a September break tend to overlook late August, when in fact, prices are much lower. ClickandGo.com have matched the low airfares with some good city breaks. I like this deal to Madrid, it combines sightseeing, sun and shopping all in one! You can take a tour of the Royal Palace and shop till you drop on the Gran Via – one of Europe’s finest shopping streets. Madrid is also home to Europe’s largest Penneys so there is shopping here for everyone! There is over 3,000 restaurants, so its safe to say it’s a foodie destination and there is enough bars and clubs to satisfy any night-owls. Fly with Aer Lingus and enjoy a three night stay in the four star Via Castellana hotel for only €240 on the 28th of August. Click here for more details.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

Lisbon break with river cruise in September

Although the Algarve is one of our most popular holiday choices, the capital, Lisbon is often overlooked. You can choose to go for a holiday (which I did) and stay in one of the beach resorts, or take a city break and stay in Lisbon itself. Temperatures rarely get higher than 25 degrees in Summer and lower than 14 degrees in Winter so it is a great choice for city break. The old style trams are the best way to get around the city and there are numerous sights to see, including The Belem Tower (defence tower), the Castelo de Sáo Jorge  and the Cristo Rei, which is a large statue of Christ that you can climb and see great views of the city. There are some great restaurants, cafes and music clubs, all very reasonably priced. I went with my kids and there was lots for them to do too. The Aquarium is Europe’s largest and well worth a visit. If you have time take the train to the ancient city of Sintra and some of the nice beach resorts along the coast. Theholidayshop.ie are offering a three night break in a central four star hotel from €339 on the 25th of September. They are also including a free river cruise too. Click here for more details.
short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

Cheese & Wine Tasting Weekend in Rome in November

Rome is a great city break destination at any time of year, but personally I think it’s better to go in the winter time, as it’s less crowded. There is so much to see in Rome it doesn’t matter how many times you go, you will always find something new to discover. I found a great deal on travalue.ie where they offer a FREE cheese and wine tasting evening, when you book a two night stay. The price for flights and a two night stay in the popular three star Galileo hotel in November is only €199 per person. They also have offers in September and October from €326 per person. Click here for more details.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

Christmas Market Breaks in December

Christmas markets are very much back in vogue. Ryanair and Aer Lingus have added extra capacity to many cities throughout the winter with lots of low priced airfares available. I like Berlin as it has over 50 markets to choose from and something to appeal to everyone. Sip some mulled wine while enjoying Christmas carols at the traditional markets of Charlottenburg Castle or enjoy one of the Christmas Rock concerts at the Spandau Old Town market. Europe’s largest mobile toboggan run and ice rink are at the lively Potsdamer Platz market, so there is plenty of choice for everyone. For more info on Europe’s top Christmas markets read my blog here. The price for flights with Aer Lingus and a three night stay in the 4* Park Inn by Radisson Alexanderplatz is only €249 on the 7th of December. Click here for more details.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane


City Breaks

For those who wish to stay closer to home, there are plenty of options here in Ireland.

 

August family break: Feather Down, Loop Head, Co Clare.

Recently I had the pleasure of glamping in Ireland’s first Feather Down tents. They have sites all over Europe and have only come to Ireland this year. They are in the grounds of a popular glamping site, Purecamping in Loophead. It is the perfect escape from a big city, you really switch off and it’s a great family experience. The ‘tents’ if you can call them that have 3 bedrooms, a private toilet, shower, stove and also a BBQ if you are lucky to get the weather. They still have availability in August, the price for a three night stay is €599 on the 12th or 19th of August. If you want a cheaper option the Purecamping furnished bell tents are pretty cool too and are priced at €75 per night. You can also choose an unfurnished tent from €35. No matter which option you choose you can avail of the excellent facilities on site, including yoga classes, sauna and a wood fired pizza oven. For more details, read my blog here.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

Spa breaks

The difference between Monart and other luxury hotels is that Monart is Ireland’s only destination Spa property. It offers a unique adults-only environment and is situated on 100 acres – you will feel utterly relaxed here. Monart was recently awarded ‘runner up best spa retreat worldwide’, by Conde Nast Traveller. It was also named as Ireland’s best destination spa for four years in a row. If you are looking for a spa break, there is no doubt – Monart is the best!  They have a three night midweek break from €329 per person, on the 29th of August, other dates are also available at a slightly higher price. This special offer includes breakfast each day plus dinner in their renowned restaurant on one evening. You will have unrestricted access to the thermal suite and they are also including a 30 minute spa treatment. Monart is situated on 100 acres – you will feel utterly relaxed here. For more details click here.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

If three nights seems too long, the Rainforest Spa in Enniskerry ( Wicklow) have an excellent offer for a one night stay at the Summerhill House Hotel You will receive a glass of bubbly and petit fours on arrival, an hours use of the spa facilities, a treatment of your choice ( see website for exact choices), breakfast and evening meal – and all for €129 mid week or €149 at the weekend, available in August. Click here for more details.

Operation Transformation at Hotel Westport

If you have over indulged during the summer months and want to get in shape for Christmas, then the Hotel Westport’s Operation Transformation package might be just what you need! You can choose a three day break from €199 or a five day break from €309 from the 9th of October. This four star family run hotel have been running this program, twice a year for four years and they have proved very popular. You will receive breakfast and dinner each day ( where light options are available) and you can join in the many aerobics and wellness classes that are provided free of charge. There is entertainment nightly and no single supplement – so it’s a great way to meet new people. There is no pressure to participate in all the activities, it is very much a laid back approach, in fact if you do not wish to be assessed, that’s fine too. If you fancy a night out in Westport, he hotel is located only five minutes from the centre. Click here for more details.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

Belfast overnight with Game of Thrones Tour

For any Game of Thrones fans, this is a must! The 4* boutique hotel, Tara Lodge is offering an over night stay with breakfast, and an action packed day visiting filming locations across Northern Ireland. Start your journey along the Causeway Coastal route visiting famous sites from the show. Stop for lunch before visiting the Giants Causeway. The price is only £72 per person and it is still available in August. Weekends are busy but check out their website for more details. The Tara Lodge is rated number 1 of 45 Belfast hotels on tripadvisor and receives excellent reviews. It is a family run guesthouse / hotel and offers friendly service and excellent value. Click here for more details.

short breaks at home and abroad as discussed with marian finucane

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. For my reviews and city break deals click here. To listen back to my chat with Marian, click HERE.

Sarah

travel deals

 

 

Travel

Feather Down Loop Head, Glamping At It’s Finest!

Featherdown

It is safe to say that camping is not one of my favourite activities. Even when the camping is upgraded to ‘glamping’, it is still going to take something extraordinary to tear me away from a nice luxury hotel.

So when the nice people at Feather Down asked me if I would like to try out their latest offering in Clare, I was somewhat hesitant, but nevertheless off I went. My husband was excited to go, presumably thinking that he was ‘Man The Hunter’ and the idea of living off the land appealed to him. My children were excited at the thought of crab hunting, torches, and a lighthouse. Me? Excited? Not so much……! So Friday evening rolled around, perhaps quicker than I would have liked. We loaded more luggage than necessary into the car and like Ossie and Tayto with kids in tow, we headed “Into The West”.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

Kevin and Trea are the owners of Pure Camping, a very well equipped, award winning and evidently popular campsite in the small village of Querrin, 7 kilometers from Kilkee in County Clare. If I said that Querrin is on the south side of Loop Head, that might give you a better idea of its location. Pure Camping is a terrific retreat and combines rest and relaxation with a ‘getting away from it all’ kind of feel. Also, Trea is a qualified yoga instructor and offers classes on site, so if thats your thing……

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

The Feather Down Farm ethos of providing space for people and a departure from their hectic lives is commonly known around Europe, but this is their first site in Ireland. They provide space for families and friends to take part in activities that don’t involve a screen in front of your face! It is somewhere people can give each other full attention without distractions, this is also in keeping with the Pure Camping ethos. So out of this coming together, came two ‘Frills’ tents from Feather Down located in the ‘Orchard’ on the Pure Camping land. Being the only two in Ireland, they are aptly titled “Feather Down, Loop Head”.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

As we left the motorway behind us, we drove onto gradually smaller, narrower roads and eventually arrived about three hours later at Pure Camping, our home for the next two nights. Kevin met us at the bottom of the laneway and gave us a brief chat about the highlights of the area. From the local pier and crab-hunting, to the dolphin watching which left daily from Carrigaholt, which is “just out the road”.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

Then, led by candlelight, our enthusiastic host showed us to our tent. As I type the word tent, I realise this does not adequately describe what we were led to. Real beds, a couch, a six-seater table, a small stove, running water and most importantly, an INDOOR TOILET. Kevin’s enthusiasm for the place was absolutely contagious. All he kept saying was, “Wait ’til ye see it lads!” about every aspect of the so called “tent”. Meanwhile I was having my own Meryl Streep/Out of Africa moment. It wasn’t camping, it wasn’t ‘glamping’. All it needed was Robert Redford and I was set! We even had an outdoor shower with unlimited hot water! This was camping in style, comfort and warmth, and not a sniff of damp in the air.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After being shown around by Kevin, my husband and daughter made their way down to the local pub/shop/restaurant/undertaker/mechanic to get some supplies. It is about 5 kilometres away at the crossroads where you turn for Pure Camping, so best get your own supplies on the way in. Although I think my husband had a sneaky pint with my five year old whilst there! Anyway, we lit the fire/stove and twenty minutes later we were cooking by candlelight.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After a great nights sleep in very comfortable beds, the kids took off exploring. There were lots of other children to play with, who were staying in tents on the Purecamping grounds. The facilities on site are excellent. There is a large indoor playhouse and plenty of open fields for kids to play and kick ball. They have a pizza oven where kids ( and adults) are encouraged to make their own pizzas. This is a good way to meet your fellow campers too!

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

At night time everyone gathered around the large campfire, some cooking fish that they had caught that day, others toasting marshmallows. There was plenty of beer and wine, starry skies and best of all – plenty of chat.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

There is lots to do around Loop Head. The highlight for the kids being a visit to the Loop Head lighthouse, were we got to climb the seventy metres to the top. On a clear day, you can see the Blasket Islands in Kerry we were told. Unfortunately, the weather was not in our favour when we visited, with low cloud and fog rolling in off the Atlantic. When you walk west out from the lighthouse to the cliff edge, you will be standing on the most westerly point of the country or in other words, the nearest point of Ireland to the United States of America, 6,000 plus kilometers away.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After the lighthouse, we made our way to Keatings Bar and Restaurant for some lunch. Billed as the last pub before New York, they serve great seafood and pubgrub, so well worth a stop. After lunch it was back in the car for the short drive to the Bridges of Ross, a naturally formed sea arch near the village of Kilbaha. There used to be three but two have since succumbed to the force of the sea. Still worth a visit though and you’ll get some scenic and rugged pictures whilst you are there. It is the ‘Wild Atlantic Way’, after all….

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

After a good walk and getting a little wind blown, it was back to the car and back to Feather Down Loop Head. We got some more supplies in Kilrush and made another meal on our stove. There is a BBQ on site too and a large picnic table outside your tent so depending on the weather, you can eat inside or out. It’s amazing what you can cook with a frying pan and a hot stove!

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

Next morning, whilst the kids were playing outside, we packed up our belongings, loaded the car and said our goodbyes to our hosts, Trea and Kevin. Sad that we could not have stayed the third night, but we had to get back to Dublin. En route we passed  Trump Doonbeg, we simply had to pay a visit. I am not a fan of the man, but this luxury beach hotel in Doonbeg is fabulous. We had lunch in the golf club which was not only substantial but affordable too. You need to be a hotel guest if you wish to eat in the hotel though. After a brief wander around the grounds, we were on the long road home.

Feather Down Loop Head Glamping

The luxury Doonbeg hotel and the Pure Camping campsite are worlds apart in their offerings but both unique in their own ways. The Feather Down tent reminded me of time we spent in Tanzania before our children were born. Tanzania is still one of my favourite holidays and anything that reminds me of it comes out ‘Trumps‘ for me. Sorry Donald, Feather Down wins this election!

For more information, visit the Feather Down website.

 

Sarah.


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