Spa Spy: The Spa at Castlemartyr
If you are the type who judges luxury by first impressions then the Spa at Castlemartyr is a must should you ever find yourself in this particular corner of East Cork.
If the romantic ruins of the castle don't do it for you then the acres of ancient woodland just might. The original manor house has grand ceilings and rolling lawns and you can't fail to find some romance in horses gamboling in the paddocks and drinking from landscaped lakes in the bright autumn sunshine.
As so much is given over to the now obligatory golf course, Castlemartyr isn't quite magical but in fairness it's as close to being enchanted as I think you will find in any five star anywhere.
After warm welcomes, I was led to the Spa from the grandeur of large stone columns and roaring log fires that make up the country manor through to the modern wing of the hotel with it's vast glass walls, dark hardwood floors and enough bamboo to keep a couple of giant pandas happy.
Once the pleasantries of warmed bathrobes and luxury bath treats had been dispensed with, it was time for me to be pampered top to toe.
Settling in to the warmth of the treatment room with the flicker of tea lights the sense of bliss that is the the Anne Semonin Parisian treatment will not be forgotten by this reviewer in too much of a hurry.
At an hour and 25 minutes the treatment probably isn't for those in a hurry yet what is billed as a made-to-measure facial that ends with a top to toe body massage becomes much more than the sum of its parts. There is body exfoliation, a hydration restoring marine mask and the detox benefits of Castlemartyr's signature lymphatic massage, yet what stands above all is the facial.
With none of the redness, the hard skin simply drifts away and by the time the sebum-balancing face mask had set and the warm towels removed the result was a more hydrated and smoother me. In all have to say I was impressed with the results even before the whole thing was rounded off with an invigorating aromatherapy foot massage.
Spirits lifted and feeling a little overwhelmed by my own place amongst all the luxury, I found myself with an afternoon just for me.
The rest of the day was spent with fresh smoothies, the tranquility of the relaxation area or in the warmth of the sauna, menthol steam rooms and jacuzzi. By the time it was time to leave I had just about managed to get used to the pampering and can safely say all was well.
If the hotel has all the charms of the old then the Spa at Castlemartyr is all the better for its bright sense of zen-like modernity. The service is superb, the treatments divine and design wise it has more than a flavour of the east about it.
As I noticed the scent of Agarwood in the air and caught a glimpse of myself relaxing in the warm waters of a huge infinity pool I did take a little time to congratulate myself on all the good deeds I must have managed to do in my previous life. How I got such a treat I do not know but after my sins at the dessert trolley later on in the evening I doubt I'll have earned many rewards like this one for my next incarnation!
Factfile: The Spa at Castlemartyr
Where: Castlemartyr, Co Cork, Ireland
Treatments: Type of treatments available
For afters: Log fires, tea and mini carrot cake
Luxury factor: 5/5
Offers: Enjoy one night accommodation, lunch in the Knights Bar, and one spa treatment from €187.50 PPS.