Escape from Dublin to this relaxing, invigorating island

by Ian Begley

THE opportunity to pack up the car and take advantage of a well-earned break from The Big Smoke is always one that is far too good to pass up, so when the chance to take a trip to the 5-star Fota Island Resort in Cork came about, my partner and I were all too eager to say farewell to Dublin’s fair city.
The relatively boring two-and-a-half-hour journey to the Rebel county was livened up by the beautiful, mountainous scenery on the way, and as the island in Cork Harbour came into view in glorious sunshine, we knew that we had hit the jackpot.
The resort, nestled at the heart of this peaceful island, is surrounded by gorgeous scenery and mature woodlands, and as we drove up to our accommodation at the Fuchsia Woods Lodge – a stone’s throw away from the actual hotel – we knew we were in for a treat.
The stylish lodges gave us unrivalled views of Fota Island’s tree-lined shore, and from the entrance hall, the marble tiling led us to the classically-styled living room and then on to the contemporary kitchen and dining area.
Our room was very spacious and comfortable, featuring everything you would expect from a 5-star resort, including an en-suite and walk-in wardrobe.
Shortly after we settled in, I had to depart for my much-needed Eastern Essence full-body massage appointment at the resort’s highly acclaimed spa.
As I had decided to do an intense, once-in-a-blue-moon workout at my local gym the previous day, my body was riddled with aches and pains, so this was definitely a welcome blessing.
The massage started off with a Turkish foot scrub, followed by my body being polished with hot stones. I found this so relaxing that I involuntarily dozed off for about five minutes.
When I came back to my senses, my masseuse was giving me a head, face and neck massage, which almost drove me back into my slumber. My massage was then finished off with a Thai foot massage, alongside some complementary jasmine tea.
Feeling completely detoxified and relaxed, I met back up with my partner, who was taking a dip in the spa’s hydrotherapy suite, and we then departed for a very interesting whiskey tasting session, followed by dinner at Fota Restaurant.
Working up a very hearty appetite, I was delighted to see that we would soon be indulging in a six-course tasting menu.
For starters, I had the pan-seared scallop, with slow-braised pork and parsnip puree.
The second course consisted of herb-crusted venison, alongside caramelised figs and brandy cherries.
This was followed by a delicious Irish Crab Tian with champagne melon gazpacho, cucumber and caviar.
A very refreshing passion fruit sorbet was next in line, tailed by a tender fillet of Irish beef with smoked sweet potatoes, oyster mushrooms, aubergine puree and truffle jus.
I was extremely impressed with the quality of food prepared for us, and when I thought that I could not possibly eat another bite, a generous portion of dark chocolate fondant was placed before me, which I devoured without any great effort.
After our meal, we went to the resort’s well-stocked bar for a few sensible drinks, and as the clock ticked past midnight, I deemed it wise to stroll back to the lodge to hit the hay in order to wake up in time the next morning for an obligatory full Irish breakfast.
The buffet-style meal was average at best, but the freshly prepared waffle I ordered definitely made up for it.
Overall, I had a very nice time at Fota Island Resort, and will surely return for a visit at some stage in the near future.
There are a wide variety of excellent summer holiday packages available at Fota Island Resort, such as two nights in a three-bedroom Fuchsia lodge for six people, including access to the kids camp, from €400 per night.
For detailed information on all of Fota Island Resort’s packages, see www.fotaisland.ie, or call 021 488 3700.

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