Wednesday 18 July 2018

Fancy a Spring break? The best family staycations for the season ahead

After a season of dark days, it may be time to plan a trip. From relaxing breaks to more activity-based getaways, Aoife Reilly rounds up of the best family staycations for the season ahead

Inchydoney
Inchydoney
Picture posed
Castle Leslie
Farnham Estate
Delphi
Ice House
Clontarf Castle
The Gleneagle Hotel

Whether it's an Easter break with the extended clan or a spur-of-the moment babymoon, the options are plentiful in Ireland. Think private cinema viewings to treetop zip-lining, because there's something for everyone this spring...

Ulster and You

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Castle Leslie

• Say 'spring getaway' and most people would think sand, sun and blue skies, but there are many ways to get away without the need for planes or passports. Situated amongst ancient woodland and scenic lakes in Co Monaghan, you'll find the beautiful Castle Leslie Estate. Surrounded by acres upon acres of untouched countryside, it's the perfect spot for a peaceful family break. The walking trails around the grounds are simply beautiful plus they are not too long for those little legs. The Estate offers the perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone with bucket-list activities like hot air balloon rides, pike fishing or clay target shooting. Choose hotel accommodation, luxury home rental packages or a self-catering break, with many packages featuring evening meals and family welcome baskets (including beer and wine for the grown-ups and popcorn and sweets for the little ones). If the weather is not in your favour, there's also a private cinema for rental, a world-class equestrian centre and the Estate's serene Victorian Treatment Rooms. A two-night family package at the Old Stable Mews start from €700. castleleslie.com

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Farnham Estate

• If you are expecting a new arrival in the coming months, why not turn your spring getaway in a babymoon and enjoy some relaxation before baby arrives. While many choose to fly abroad, your easiest option is to book yourself into a hotel and enjoy a weekend of pampering and fine dining. Considered as one of the most beautiful spa spaces in Ireland, the Farnham Estate Spa and Golf Resort in Co Cavan is one to try. You'll find a number of pregnancy-friendly spa treatments on offer including the Yon-Ka Maternity Massage, €85, a gentle full body massage designed to soothe and calm your body. The adult-only spa offers the perfect surroundings to relax and recharge before your baby arrives. Located just 10 minutes outside of Cavan town, the hotel space is incredibly peaceful and spacious. farnhamestate.ie

Local gem: While you're there, take a drive to Cloverhill and dine in The Olde Post Inn, an award-winning family-friendly restaurant that focuses on the freshest seasonal components, combining them into the sort of preparations that make bold new sense of classic Irish fare. theoldepostinn.com

Love in Leinster

• Finding the perfect location for your family getaway can be tricky. You want to find a place that both you and your little ones will enjoy. Considered as one of the best family-friendly hotels in the country, the Amber Spring Hotel and Health Spa in Gorey, Co Wexford, is brilliant for families of all sizes. From go-karts to crazy golf to treasure hunts to table tennis and arts and crafts, the activities are endless and caters for every age. With 48 spacious family rooms on offer, the hotel is incredibly accommodating to large families and besides, who can resist the Sunny south-east for a spring family gathering? The mini Easter break here costs €430 for two nights' bed and breakfast with dinner on one evening for a family of four. ambersprings.ie

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Clontarf Castle

• The Irish landscape may be dotted in castles but Clontarf Castle Hotel provides the ultimate backdrop for little princes and princesses. The grounds have existed since the 12th century and are steeped in Irish history for the whole family to enjoy. Enjoy the hotel's take on afternoon tea while your little ones embark on a Castle treasure hunt or spend your time in the Castle's contemporary art gallery. Located in the coastal suburb of Clontarf, the castle is only a 10-minute drive from Dublin city centre and provides the perfect resting spot for trips in and out of the city, whether you're visiting Dublin Zoo or taking a ride on the Viking Splash Tour. The Family Fun package starts from €239 per room per night - a two-night stay includes breakfast on both mornings and dinner on an evening of your choice. clontarfcastle.ie

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Local gem: Down in Clontarf village (and less than a five-minute drive from Clontarf Castle), lies Ebb & Flow Coffee, where you'll discover a cosy and chilled hideaway. The crowning glory is its expertly crafted espresso, supplied by Irish-owned Full Circle Roasters. There's also an abundance of heavenly baked goods (think giant slabs of warm banana bread and toasty cinnamon buns) and fresh juices for children. ebbandflow.ie

Connacht’s Calling

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Ice House

• Overlooking the River Moy, the Ice House in North Mayo is an idyllic setting in which to switch off and relax. With its king-size beds, seaweed baths and Foxford Woolen Mills blankets, it's ideal for a babymoon or a weekend away with your little one and the soothing space will allow you to feel worlds away from your everyday life. Easter packages at the Ice House start from €279 per person for a two-night stay and includes accommodation, breakfast on both mornings and dinner on one evening. icehouse.ie

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Delphi

• If a family holiday for you resembles an audition for Ireland's Fittest Family, a stay at the Delphi Resort is a must. Located in the heart of Connemara, Co Galway, the four-star accommodation is the ideal place to get outside and cross some more adventures off your list. From hill-walking to kayaking to surfing and zip-lining, you won't be short of activities at the resort's adventure centre. For younger children there's also nature walks and 'mini Bush trials' thanks to the free on-site kids' club. After a day of adventure, parents can indulge in the Delphi Spa and enjoy the hydrotherapy pool, steam room and sauna while taking in the stunning Connemara surroundings. This Easter, a three-night family package starts from €449 and includes two Easter activities, a three-course evening meal, and one hour complimentary in the Delphi Spa's Thermal Suite for parents. For a more budget-friendly option, there's also the new Wild Atlantic Hostel on-site where families can enjoy a two-night stay for €199 during the first week of Easter. delphiadventureresort.com

Local gem: Rain or shine, a trip to Connemara wouldn't be complete without visiting Connemara National Park. Southeast of Letterfrack, the park spans across nearly 3,000 hectares of mountains, woodlands and bogs. The park offers megalithic court tombs as well as a number of family-friendly walking trails, a playground and a cosy tea room for a refuel post-walk. connemaranationalpark.ie

Magic of Munster

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Inchydoney

• Like most seaside hotels, it all begins and ends with the views, and in the case of Inchydoney Island Lodge and Spa, this involves breathtaking scenery of Inchydoney beach, just outside the town of Clonakilty in West Cork. Rain or shine, this resort is a playground for little ones. From kite-flying on the beach to a dedicated children's lounge filled with books, board-games and game consoles, the kids will be worn out by bedtime. This Easter break, there's a two-night package on offer from €460 for a family of two adults and two kids sharing a family room. The package includes a breakfast on both mornings, access to the facilities and a cooking demonstration for the kids. What would an Easter holiday be without an Easter egg hunt? On Easter Sunday, expect to see the Easter Bunny hopping about the hotel. inchydoneyisland.com

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The Gleneagle Hotel

• Single parents booking holidays will be aware that many of the family package deals tend to focus on a 'two adults and two children' set-up. Finance can also be an issue as holidaying with little ones can be a costly affair for all families. The Gleneagle Hotel and The Brehon Hotel in Killarney, Co Kerry, and The Maritime Hotel in Bantry, Co Cork offer a Flying Solo package which charges per adult rather than a set price for two parents. The Gleneagle Hotel and The Brehon Hotel have a host of facilities and activities for parents and young children from the nearby Killarney National Park - ideal for leisurely buggy strolls - to the child-friendly Aquila Club which features a kids' pool as well as a 25-metre pool for adults. The Maritime also has great swimming facilities for young children plus the hotel grounds provide the perfect opportunity for family nature walks. All three hotels also offer the chance for some 'me' time during your stay thanks to the in-house babysitters - allowing you time to enjoy a relaxing treatment at The Brehon's Angsana Spa or at The Maritime's You Time Spa. The Flying Solo packages at The Gleneagle Hotel start from €85 a night, at The Brehon Hotel they cost from €105 a night, and the packages at The Maritime start at just €60 a night. gleneaglehotel.com; themaritime.ie; thebrehon.com

Local gem: Don't leave West Cork without visiting the vibrant town of Clonakilty. Brush up on your knowledge of Michael Collins or take to the water to spot some whales. Cork Whale Watch offers all-year whale watching excursions. corkwhalewatch.com

Irish Independent

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