Living it up

Ritz Carlton Powerscourt 1

Given that both Lana and I were effectively working over the Christmas and New Year period, we had always planned to treat ourselves to a mini-break in the early part of 2008. After ages debating if we should push the boat out and go on an exotic holiday or maybe have a European city break we came to a rather strange decision. We’ve been in Ireland for over six months now and have hardly had any chance to explore. Therefore we decided to have a weekend break somewhere local. The beauty of this idea was that it meant we had no wasted time on planes bookending our break.

The really bizarre part is that we chose a venue only about half an hour’s drive from our front door. Powerscourt is a country estate in the Wicklow mountains, just South of Dublin. Last October a new Ritz-Carlton hotel was opened on the site and that’s where we booked ourselves into for an overnight spa package. I’d been fortunate enough to stay in a Ritz-Carlton once before for work, so knew we would be in for a treat.

On arrival at Saturday lunchtime we were informed that we’d been upgraded to the club floor and a larger suite, which was a nice surprise. After arranging our spa treatments for the following morning we went to check out our room. Lana was in heaven with the New England style decor (I’m going to be in trouble when we get our own place…) whilst I marvelled at the various technology including LCD touch sensitive control panels for everything from room temperature to the curtains and three LCD TVs including one in the bathroom mirror! Then we checked out the breakfast options:

€350 breakfast!

Needless to say we wouldn’t be ordering that ;-)

Included as part of our upgrade was access to the club lounge with free food and drinks provided throughout the day. Think of an airport lounge within the hotel and you are about there, except with much nicer furniture. The rest of the hotel is simply sumptuous from the lobby area with solo harpist down to the spa and pool and the pub down in the basement. As you would expect there is an overall air of opulence and money which probably doesn’t go down to well with Irish values, but there was enough evidence of people taking lunch and coffee in the lobby to suggest that you don’t have to be staying there to soak a bit of it up. The helipad being built out at the back is probably taking things a bit far though.

One of the main attractions is the restuarant: Gordan Ramsay’s first foray into Ireland. Unfortunately we booked our stay rather late and had no chance of getting into dinner on a Saturday night. Reading Traveladvisor reviews about the hotel this seems to be a bone of contention that the hotel does not have a restaurant that guests can be guaranteed to eat at. However there is a portion of the expansive lobby that turns into a bistro at night, and then there’s always the pub. We chose to supplement our free food and drink with some room service whilst chilling out and relaxing in our room after returning from browsing the Avoca shops within Powerscourt.

On Sunday we rose early to get breakfast in the restaurant (no caviar choice there!) and then headed down to relax by the pool before our spa treatments. I went for a “deep cleansing back treatment” whilst Lana had an advanced facial. Needless to say we both came out feeling thoroughly refreshed and relaxed.

On leaving on Sunday afternoon we were home within 30 minutes. No airports, taxis or baggage to lug around and no delays! Whilst it is great to travel, sometimes taking advantage of the delights on your doorstep is just as much fun and much more relaxing.

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