Some of the best discoveries turn out to be the ones on your very doorstep – The Heritage Hotel & Spa in Killenard being a perfect example.
This contemporary five-star spa resort, which opened its doors in June 2005, is set in the countryside just outside the pretty village of Killenard in Co Laois.
It’s just an hour’s drive from Dublin and a short hop from Portlaoise, Portarlington and the renowned outlet campus of Kildare Village.
First impressions? A light-filled four-storey atrium greets guests on arrival with a show-stopping staircase, sparkling crystal chandeliers and gleaming marble floors.
But the effect is far from daunting as the style and opulence is matched by the friendliness of the staff allowing for an atmosphere that is relaxed and welcoming.
On arrival we enjoyed an informal supper in the Slieve Bloom bar which is stuffed with comfortable armchairs and sofas and serves up a mean cocktail.
There is outdoor seating on the spacious patio overlooking the first tee of the championship golf course and the Slieve Bloom mountains.
Next morning breakfast was cooked to order in the classic and atmospheric dining room and then it was time to explore the impressive grounds.
There’s no shortage of things to do and see – the fairy garden is enchanting and the 5km floodlit walking and jogging track offers spectacular views.
And if the weather is, well, as unpredictable as only ours can be you can enjoy a swin, sauna and jacuzzi in the health club, indulge in a spa treatment or just sink into a cosy couch with a good book.
We may have tried to pack too much in, but with Kildare Village on your doorstep and a further 10% discount offer for hotel guests, what’s a girl gonna do?
After a spot of retail therapy, it was time for another kind of therapy – in the award-winning 7,000sqft spa.
A hot stone massage was the order of the day. The combination of aromatherapy oils, warm volcanic stones and a therapist with years of experience is enough to lull even the most stressed-out subject into a blissful stupor.
The warmth of the stones penetrate your muscles and relieve deep tension – and the relaxation room is the perfect place to reacclimatise in peace and quiet.
The spa has 16 treatment rooms and its heat and hydro experience are one of the best you’ll come across.
Starting with a rustic sauna cabin guests can move on to the sanarium, caldarium, tepidarium and hammam to cleanse pores and relax muscles, and finish with the refreshing multi-sensory showers and tissue-firming ice fountains.
If you don’t feel rejuvenated and invigorated after that then a trip to the GP might be in order…
Cocooned in old-world charm we rounded off our visit with a sumptuous four-course dinner in the Arlington Restaurant.
Seasonal, quality ingredients prepared expertly by head chef Ian Clifford and his team were the order of the day – with the duck liver parfait a stand-out dish.
Departing refreshed the next morning it was hard to say what scored highest – the food, the spa, or the deluxe, spacious room with its lavish bathroom and breath-taking views over the golf course and mountains?
A return trip might be required to arrive at a final decision…
The Heritage Hotel & Spa offers one-night bed and breakfast from €149 per room per night. A one-hour hot stone massage treatment costs €105 per person. The Time for Us package offers a two-night relaxing break in a deluxe room, including breakfast both mornings. See www.theheritage.com or phone 057 8645500.