Monart

Holidays in Ireland

What it’s like to stay in Monart, Ireland’s Only Destination Spa Hotel.

monart

Many Irish hotels have spas but there is only one destination Spa hotel in Ireland – Monart.

 

It was only when I was booking Monart that I realised the difference between the two. The only reason people go to Monart is for the spa experience, it’s not like there is an entertainment programme or a golf course on site. They don’t even allow kids! I think this is what makes Monart special. They are not trying to be all things to all men and cater for the masses. They are an adults-only luxury destination spa hotel and what you see is what you get.

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I travelled with my sister and my mother, a gift to my Mum for her 91st birthday. Let me start by saying none of us are big Spa fans, but we wanted a luxury hotel for a ‘girly night’. I asked a few people where they would recommend and Monart cropped up time and time again. It was important for us to find somewhere that my Mum could relax, without the need to go sightseeing in the local area. We wanted to check-in and stay put for 24 hours, which is exactly what we did.

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After a short 90 minute drive from Dublin, we arrived at an 18th century house which looked like a stately home. Initially, I thought we were in the wrong place. That notion quickly passed when we were greeted by a gentleman in a tailored suit, ‘Welcome to Monart – shall I park your car for you?’ – a nice first impression. The main Georgian house has two reception rooms decorated in traditional style. We later found out that this is where you go to read the complimentary newspapers or use the WiFi – but a digital detox is encouraged in the main hotel. We walked straight through the glass corridor into the reception area. A strong aroma of essential oils filled the air and I immediately liked the décor, it was classic but with a modern twist. The floor to ceiling glass offered stunning views of the grounds, but the spiral staircase with the massive bog oak tree, stole the show.

We arrived in time for lunch in the Garden Lounge. This restaurant / bar serves food throughout the day until 7.30pm. The first thing that struck me was everyone was dressed in their white towelling robes, even in the restaurant! Our room wasn’t ready until 3pm, so much to my Mum’s relief,  we had to dine in our clothes! We had a tasty lunch, washed down by a nice Sauvignon Blanc, which was recommended by our friendly waitress. We shared a smoked salmon starter which was particularly good, as was my sister Anne’s pulled beef BBQ brisket sandwich. However, I expected more flavour from my dressed pink prawn bruschetta with tomato tapenade, gem lettuce and toasted sourdough… Overall it was a lovely experience, in a pleasant room overlooking the grounds of the hotel. The extensive menu also has some vegan dishes if you fancy combining your visit with some lighter food options. The bill came to €100 for the three of us, which was quite reasonable considering we were in a luxury five star hotel.

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After lunch our rooms were ready so we checked-in and got ready for our spa treatments. The rooms are bright and very spacious, with nice views overlooking the gardens. We donned our robes and made our way to the Spa. Anne and I booked the hour long Cellulite Smoothing Green Coffee Wrap (€100), hoping against hope that we would look a half stone lighter afterwards, just in time for Summer holidays! My Mum clearly wouldn’t have the same desires so she opted for the prescriptive facial, (€90) also an hour in length. This facial is tailored to the needs of your skin so it was the perfect choice for my Mum. She took the first appointment and was extremely impressed with her therapist, Sreeja. She loved every minute of it and happily read her book afterwards  in the relaxation room – there are several!

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While Anne and I waited for our treatments we decided to check out the Thermal Suite. There is a 2 hour circuit which we would have liked to complete, but time was against us. I particularly loved the salt grotto, in fact I fell asleep within minutes of going inside. I’m not sure if it was the couple of glasses of Sauvignon Blanc or the hot steam that made me nod off though, but either way I loved it. This salt and steam treatment room softens the skin and aids circulation; I had to be woken by my sister to tell me it was time to go! We moved on to the Aromatic Steam Room, which had the most divine scent of eucalyptus. This is supposed to cleanse the body of impurities and revitalise the mind. I’m not sure about the latter but my body certainly felt cleansed after it. I also liked the Caldarium, which is like a large dry room, not as hot as a sauna, but very relaxing. In between the heated rooms, I tried the experience showers which have a range of temperatures and pressure. The idea is to mix hot and cold to stimulate your body. We had time for a quick dip in the small hydrotherapy pool but not enough time to enjoy it properly. There are four heated loungers at the top of the pool, which we would have loved to relax on, but as we were only staying one night, we didn’t have enough time to do it all.

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After mixing hot and cold temperatures a few times, I decided to go one step further and try the outdoor sauna ritual, something some my Facebook followers had advised me to do. This ritual happens every day at approximately 4pm. Located just outside the Thermal Suite, it practically begs you to try it. I sat in a sauna that had such intense heat I thought I was going to pass out. I was never so relieved to have an ice-cold bucket shower in my life. I then had to rub ice all over my body, before going back into the sauna to start all over again. I must confess I cheated half way through the second round and had to escape. I’m not sure if it had the relaxation effect that it mentioned in the description, but I certainly felt invigorated after it! The time went by so fast and suddenly it was time to de-robe and go for my body wrap.

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I was greeted by my therapist Sreeja, who explained the treatment and what I should expect. Following a full body exfoliation and massage I was cocooned in a mountain of towels. The lotion started to tingle on my skin when I was wrapped up, something Sreeja had warned me about. I actually liked the sensation and thought to myself that it must be working. I could smell something that resembled coffee and I had visions of it breaking down my cellulite and eliminating toxins from my body. I hoped my skin would look polished and my physique leaner, as I had packed my white trousers for dinner that night, and hoped that they would fit better than they had the previous time I had worn them! After a while I stopped overthinking and finally relaxed. The combination of the massage, the perfumed oils and being wrapped up in a cocoon of hot towels, gave me a real sense of indulgence. I haven’t had many spa treatments before so I felt I deserved this little piece of heaven, even if it was only for an hour. When it was all over, Sreeja took my slippers and placed them on my newly moisturised feet. The slippers were hot! She had put them in a microwave or some similar heating appliance, before placing them on my feet. It was the perfect ending to my spa treatment experience.

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Unfortunately I didn’t stay relaxed for long. After my treatment Sreeja advised me to not to drink alcohol and to wait a while before showering… Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to do either. We had dinner reservations for 8pm and it was 630pm when my treatment ended. It felt a shame to wash my beautifully moisturised skin and I wondered if the creams were still working to eliminate toxins and combat cellulite? I also knew we were going to have wine with dinner and maybe even a cocktail beforehand – we were on a ‘girls’ night away after all. I began to wonder whether I choose the right treatment. Was the whole thing a waste of time? I still loved it, the experience, the feeling of being utterly spoilt, but in hindsight I wished I had chosen this treatment for the following day. TOP TIP It is vital that you plan your visit and book treatments in advance. Think about what time you will arrive, how long you will be staying and plan accordingly. We booked late and were lucky to get availability, although we all had treatments at different times, which meant we couldn’t use the thermal suite together. Perhaps a facial before dinner and a body wrap the following day would have been a better choice for me.

monart

For a brief time I did feel a little slimmer and loved the feel of my freshly polished skin. I also managed to fit comfortably into my white trousers for dinner in the fine dining restaurant. This is the only place where Monart ask you to dress in appropriate clothing. At all other times you are encouraged to wear your robe.

I was really impressed with the food in the main restaurant. From the amuse bouche right through to the dessert, each course was delicious. After a tasty starter of seafood lasagne, I enjoyed the rack of lamb followed by a cheesecake that was perfect and light. However Anne’s choice of ham hock with smoked pudding for starter and the Asian infused hake for main course was the winner! The flavours in both were sublime. We were all amazed at the set menu price tag of €45, it was excellent value for such high quality food. There is an extensive wine list too and contrary to Sreeja’s advice, we couldn’t resist the beautifully balanced L’Amourier…

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It was a long time since the three of us were away together so we retired to the bar after dinner for a nightcap. It was great to catch up with our news, without having to rush to work or to collect the kids. I made a mental note to myself that we need to get away together more often!  My only complaint about our stay is we didn’t have long enough. I think you need a two night stay to completely ‘switch off’ from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy complete relaxation.

monart

The following morning we enjoyed a tasty breakfast and went for a short walk around the gardens. The stone bridge, greenery and duck filled pond reminded me of Monet’s ‘Japanese Bridge’ painting. It is not only the Spa that is relaxing, there is something very peaceful about the gardens too. In fact Monart created an atmosphere of pure relaxation from the moment our car was valet parked at the entrance. It’s almost symbolic, like you are handing someone the keys and you are escaping ‘normal life’ for a day or two. Everyone walks around in their white towelling robes, the smell of aromatherapy oils fill the corridors, mobile phones are discouraged (the signal is really poor in the main hotel) and there are countless friendly staff at your beck and call. Now I finally understand the difference between a hotel with a Spa and a destination Spa hotel. There is only one Monart.

 

Prices from €219 mid week and €269 weekend for a two night stay with breakfast and one evening meal. Visit Monart.ie for more details.

 

Like holidays in Ireland? See more here.

 

Sarah

The Travel Expert

 

In The Media

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

 

 

In The Media

Romantic Holidays As Seen on TV3 Saturday AM – 6th February 2016

TV3 Sat AM

Love is in the air for this weeks Saturday AM travel slot. We discussed romantic holidays including Ireland’s top hotels, a weekend break in Florence and a magical trip to the Maldives.

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Ashford Castle

Not only is Ashford Castle Ireland’s best hotel but it was also voted the world’s No 1 hotel in 2015 by one of the industry’s leading luxury networks – Virtuoso. €75 million has been invested into the hotel over the past two years and there is no doubt this 13th century castle offers something unique to its guests. As you drive in under the impressive gates, through the golf course and across the moat – you will be blown away before you even set foot inside the hotel. Once inside the attention to detail is extraordinary. Complete with excellent service and the finest furnishings, when it comes to romantic hotels in Ireland, it doesn’t get any better than this!

Ashford castle discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

You can choose one of the many sporting activities including golf, falconry, horse riding, fishing or spend the afternoon relaxing at the spa – you will be spoilt for choice here. There is also an excellent choice of dining available. Choose fine dining in the famous George V Dining Room or casual dining in their Summer Bistro or Dungeon restaurant.

Ashford castle discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

As it is a leap year, Ashford are offering a “Leap of Faith’ package for ladies who would like to propose. Price of €563 per person includes a two night stay with breakfast, a five course fine dining meal, couples spa treatments and a visit to the in house cinema to see the movie Leap Year. It doesn’t end there! During the movie you can arrange for a secret proposal to happen on the big screen. This will be arranged by the staff to suit your individual taste. And of course you will be given a bottle of champagne to celebrate!

Ashford castle discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

There are also special offers available during February & March which would be ideal as Valentines day gifts. Two nights BB and one evening meal from €285 per person or two nights BB and two evening meals plus afternoon tea from €380 per person. For more details click here.

Monart

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 was recently awarded ‘runner up best spa retreat in the world’, 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!

Monart Spa Resort discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

All spa products at Monart are 100% natural. They use Pevonia Botanica, the award-winning natural skincare range and Voya, 100% organic seaweed body therapies. The deluxe accommodation and excellent cuisine are also top class and as Monart is situated on 100 acres – you will feel utterly relaxed here.

Monart Spa Resort discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

Monart have limited availability for Valentine’s weekend with packages from €185 per person including breakfast, evening meal and full access to the 2000 square foot Thermal suite throughout your stay.

Monart Spa Resort discussed by Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert on Saturday AM

Alternatively they have over night stays available throughout the year from €149 per person – a perfect Valentines day gift. For more details click here.

Florence

Florence is Italy’s most romantic city and must rival Paris for being Europe’s city of love. Smaller and more compact than Paris it offers a more intimate feel. It is so easy to navigate and you should manage to see most of the highlights in a weekend break.

Florence by The Travel Expert

The Ponte Vecchio bridge is lined with jewellery shops just asking for the ring to be chosen. The city oozes style so its not surprising that Gucci and Roberto Cavalli were born here! The Uffizi Gallery houses one of the largest collections of art in the world and the Cathedral (Duomo) is one of the most impressive you are likely to see anywhere.

Duomo, Florence by The Travel Expert

If you have the time, a trip into the Tuscan countryside will only add to the romance. Choose from Siena, San Gimignano, Chianti – all a short distance from Florence. I found a great deal departing on the 7th of May for only €215 including flights and three nights hotel accommodation. The perfect gift for your loved one on Valentines day! Click here for more details.  

Maldives

The beaches are white powder, the temperatures are approximately 30 degrees all year round and each resort is on its own island. The word paradise automatically springs to mind! Not surprisingly the Maldives are one of the most romantic places to holiday.

Kandolhu Island, Maldives by The Travel Expert

There are almost 1200 islands spread out over 1000 km of which 100 are tourist islands and 200 are locally inhabited. Even the airport is on a separate island as it is literally a runway in the ocean! Renowned as an underwater paradise each island is surrounded by its own reef which is perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving. Many rooms or villas are situated over the ocean with direct access to the sea. The atmosphere is so relaxed that even in the 5* resorts, a beach dress and flip flops are the norm at night. So ladies, no need to pack ten pairs of shoes!

Kandolhu, Maldives, The ultimate honeymoon by The Travel Expert

Normally once you land you will transfer to a sea plane to bring you to the island resort. As everything needs to be imported, items can be expensive so I would recommend going all inclusive. Be careful though as some all inclusive resorts will only allow you use the buffet restaurant and you will have to pay extra to use the a la carte restaurants on the island. I can recommend Kuramathi, an excellent 4*+ resort who offer a ‘select’ all inclusive package, that includes nine a la carte restaurants. Prices from €2745 per person include flights and seven nights accommodation in a jacuzzi beach villa, with sea plane transfers and the select all inclusive dining package. For more information click here.  Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert talks about the Maldives on Saturday AM

If you want to go 5*, Kandolhu has four a la carte restaurants and even your own wine cooler stocked with 30 bottles of wine in your villa! Will you manage to get through them all though…. 

I hope I gave you some ideas of how to surprise your loved on on Valentines day or at some stage in the future. For more ideas read my blog post – the top 10 romantic destinations.

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change.

 

Sarah

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