Spas are the ultimate staycation: a chance to kick back, get massaged into oblivion and recharge without the hassles of airport security. Mindful of our need to refresh and regroup, a growing number of Irish spas are offering a novel service: the chance to kickstart a new fitness regime.
Once upon a time, spa weekends and exercise made for unfamiliar and uncomfortable bedfellows, but not anymore. Here are some of the spa resorts offering the best of both worlds to fitness buffs.
Brooklodge, Macredding Village, Aughrim, Co Wicklow Tel: 040236444 Brooklodge.com
Never mind the sumptuous and guilt-free food at the Strawberry Tree Restaurant (Ireland's only certified wild and organic restaurant), visitors can also avail of the resort's Macreddin Fitness Circuit. Ask at hotel reception for a map for a 30-minute circuit that can include squats, lunges and runs.
Nearby, the Cushbawn Mountain is waiting to be tackled (walking to the top takes around three hours). BrookLodge also offers free bikes, helmets and maps to those who want to cycle the Wicklow trails.
The spa is also offering a spring special of weeknight bed & breakfast with a one-hour treatment for €100pps per night. Weekend and single room supplements apply.
BrookLodge in Co Wicklow.
Cloisters Spa at the Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney, Co Kerry Tel 064 662 3400 Muckrosspark.com
Located in Killarney's National Park, Cloisters Spa (below) has your standard issue feel-good facilities: Salt grotto, steam-rooms, ice fountains; the works. There is also a state-of-the-art gym and yoga lessons offered on request to health-conscious visitors, too.
The relaxation area at Cloisters Spa at Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney
The fitness suite boasts cross trainers, treadmills, rower, free weights, medicine balls. . . everything you need, in a word, to kickstart a new you. Nightly rates start from €59.50pps.
The Cloisters Spa at Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney
Cliff House Hotel, Middle Road, Ardmore, Co Waterford Tel 024 87800 Thecliffhousehotel.com
Already an esteemed spa resort with a Michelin-starred restaurant, this popular Waterford resort will be the location for a two-day workshop with a difference.
Cliff House Hotel in Co Waterford
Dr Mark Rowe hosts this residential event on March 27 and 28, designed to focus on one's emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing. A well-known family doctor and healthcare entrepreneur, Dr Rowe promises to be practical and down to earth in his delivery and advice. The weekend costs €1,000, including meals and accommodation. Alternatively, swim or gym to your heart's content in front of some of the best sea views in the country (above).
Fota Island Spa at Fota Island, Cork Tel 021 467 3131 Fotaisland.ie
A haven of tranquil calm Fota Island may be, but on March 1 the resort is launching its inaugural Challenge Series Sprint Duathlon, and it's not for the faint-hearted.
The race, sanctioned by Triathlon Ireland, consists of a 5k run around the grounds of Fota Island Resort followed by a 22k cycle, taking competitors out towards Cobh and on a loop around the back of the Great Island with lovely views and rolling hills, followed by the third and final element, a second 5k run, the reverse of the first.
Fota Island Spa's pool
Because the event is Triathlon Ireland sanctioned, a race licence is required and the duathlon fee per participant is €49 and a percentage of all entrance fees will be donated towards Breakthrough Cancer Research. As a bonus, those who avail of an accommodation package during the duathlon can access the famous spa (above) to sooth weary limbs.
Further information will be available soon on www.fotaisland.ie. Those who prefer something a little less exerting can avail of the facility's fitness suite and wide range of classes, from spinning and bootcamps to fusion yoga and running classes.
Monart Destination Spa, The Still, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford Tel 053 923899 Monart.ie
Talk about the appliance of science. Launched earlier this month by athlete Kelly Proper (right), Monart have just unveiled infrared technology to their spa's extensive thermal suite (above). The custom-built Infrared Pro Cabin heat targets deep into the body, specifically along the spine and surrounding muscles. The service is of particular benefit to active types as it promises to not only remove toxins and improves flexibility; it also reduces muscle stiffness and increases circulation.
Add to this a five-day detox programme, a host of fitness facilities and their popular Summer Body Blitz – a residential bootcamp course that combines fitness classes, spa treatments and nutritional advice – and it's easy to see why Monart is beloved of fitness enthusiasts.
Kelly Proper in the infrared cabin at Monart Destination Spa
A series of aqua exercise, kinesis, core workshops and ab blitz classes are also on offer.
DELPHI, Delphi Mountain Resort Hotel, Connemara, Galway. Tel: 095 42208 Delphimountainresort.com
Meanwhile in the West, the Delphi Mountain Resort Hotel has devised a number of fitness weekends and bootcamps for 2014.
Designed by Olympian and fitness expert David O'Loughlin, Delphi's forthcoming Fitness & Wellbeing weekend (February 14-16) strives to teach techniques and offer one-to-one consultations. Guests will get to enjoy three fitness sessions a day, as well as massage treatments and nutrition coaching.
Delphi Lodge in Co Galway
Hotel guests looking to limber up in a less demanding way can avail of year-round daily fitness sessions, too. Additionally, the Delphi Duathlon and Killary Triathlon – both sanctioned by Triathlon Ireland – will take place on April 26 and August 30 respectively. The fitness challenge costs €40 a day or €15 per session; accommodation is extra.