Guests can expect an effusive céad míle fáilte when hotels reopen over the next few days after being shuttered for five months.
Food and drinks menus have been updated, new decors introduced and gardens manicured to within an inch of their lives.
An analysis of hotel activity around the country reveals considerable investment and attention given to upgrading the spa offers – and if that means going outside for your treatments, don’t be surprised if it means the invitation to be at one with nature.
The legacy of three lockdowns means there is a bigger focus on wellbeing and mindfulness and the self-care practices people took refuge in during the pandemic.
The effect of nature and the outdoors on wellbeing is front and centre at the new spa at the Ice House Hotel in Ballina, Co Mayo. It will have four new two-person outside baths for shared bathing rituals when the spa reopens in early July.
A relaxation room stands on stilts over the River Moy with 360 degree glazing for views into Belleek Woods. An outdoor pod with floor-to- ceiling views of the river estuary is where the new treatments on massage beds covered with quartz sand will be conducted.
Niall Kerins, general manager, said: “Following a significant investment at the hotel, we are in the process of adding a new wellness focused extension which adds over 250 sq metres of additional space.”
Local daughter-and-father team, design consultant Ann Conmy and her architect father Michael Conmy, worked on the plans for the spa, which is close to completion.
Meanwhile, in the sunny south-east, the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford, is trebling its number of outdoor baths.
This summer their Well by The Sea spa will introduce a new menu of treatments that can be taken by guests outdoors.
The ‘listen to the birds sing’ approach will mean guests can request a hot towel scalp ritual outdoors. The ‘Peat for the Feet’ grounding treatment uses organic peat sourced from ancient bogs in Co Laois. The third treatment, ‘The Sea Escape’, involves soaking your feet in warm seaweed harvested from the south coast while your therapist eases away the tension in your arms, shoulders, neck and scalp.
Meditation was another popular tool for dealing with stress during lockdown and the hotel recently added a Movement Room for yoga, pilates, barre and meditation, designed with floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Ardmore Bay.
Hotel general manager Patrick Shields said: “We understand that now more than ever, many of our guests are looking for a wellness experience to help to shake off the stresses of the last year and give their minds and body some much-needed care and attention.”
In Co Cork, John O’Flynn, general manager of the Fota Island Resort, said: “The wellness and wellbeing of our guests are at the forefront of our minds and over the last few months we have invested in a partnership with spa and wellness expert Peigin Crowley.”
Peigin from Ovens in Co Cork is a wellness curator and she was inspired to develop her Ground range of products last year using natural plant-based ingredients.
She said it took the first two lockdowns to finally develop products. “Essentially I got the space and time to do a product and a concept that I always wanted to do and never had the time, or the courage to do it,” she said.
Meanwhile in Co Kerry, Seamus Crotty, general manager of Sheen Falls Lodge, said: “Normally, when guests book their stay, they wouldn’t necessarily book time in our spa at this point, often waiting until a day or two before arrival to make appointments.
“But what we have noticed this year is that people are booking their treatment times in our spa at the same time as their accommodation, and this is new.
“Another thing we have noticed is that guests are asking detailed questions in advance about outdoor activities to plan for during their stay be that walking, fishing, golfing or cruising on Kenmare Bay.
“The desire to enjoy time outdoors seems very strong. I think this past year has taught us to appreciate the fundamental connection between nature and wellbeing.”
The Park Hotel in Kenmare run by the Brennan brothers, Francis and John, will open next week with a new treatments menu in their spa using Bamford organic products. They have a full-time yoga instructor for the hotel’s daily activity lifestyle programme and will be adding an active fitness instructor.
The menu in the new dining room will feature some healthy options.
The Mount Juliet Estate in Co Kilkenny recently refurbished its leisure facilities with a new, state-of-the-art gym and pool. Management has spent the downtime creating new wellness experiences for their spa working with Peigin Crowley and will introduce three body rituals for “a uniquely Irish wellness experience”.
The Irish rugby team are well used to using Carton House and its 1,110 acres of land in Co Kildare. Martin Mangan, general manager, confirmed that Carton’s spa, with Margaret Dabbs therapies and treatments, was an integral part of an extensive two-year, multi-million-euro renovation.
The hotel reopens as part of the Fairmont family of hotels, with sister properties at The Savoy in London and The Plaza in New York.