Wednesday 21 March 2018

Spring break

From sailing down the Shannon to glimpsing fairies, Ireland's top hotels and resorts have lots of offer families looking for a getaway this Easter

Castle Leslie
Castle Leslie
Lough Erne
Clayton Hotel in Sligo

While you may not be guaranteed blue skies and sunshine while holidaying in Ireland, one thing's for sure - you'll never get bored. A hop in the car and a road trip will quckly take you to many of the country's best getaways. The choices are myriad and whether you're an adventure junkie or a food aficionado, a spa lover or a book buff, an Irish staycation won't disappoint. With activity clubs, kid-friendly menus and all-inclusive attractions on offer in many hotels across Ireland, it's easy to keep your high-energy brood entertained on trips away and - while family holidays can tend towards the expensive - we've found some family-friendly destinations for all budgets to enjoy this Easter, or bookmark to visit at a later date.

1 In the jungle

While we may associate Easter with the Easter Bunny, Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa has gone one step further, offering families a chance to explore Dublin Zoo. Situated in the Meath countryside, less than an hour outside of Dublin City, the four-star hotel is a great spot to escape to and switch off from city life without having to travel too far. On arrival, each child will receive their very own Dunboyne passport, along with a fun activity pack to keep them entertained during their stay. The Georgian surroundings are ideal for exploring, and you can rest tired legs in the hotel's renowned spa. The fun continues after check-out with an all-inclusive trip to Dublin Zoo. The Escape to the Jungle package is available from €230 per family and includes overnight accommodation in a deluxe family room for two adults and two children, complimentary car parking, full Irish breakfast and entry to the Zoo.

2 Like a fairy tale

What better place to encourage your little ones' imaginations than a hotel filled with fairies? Located in the beautiful seaside village of Barna in Co Galway, The Twelve Hotel is home to many fairy doors, providing children the opportunity to discover and explore the magic of these enchanted doors and perhaps catch a glimpse of a fairy or two. Guests will be greeted on arrival with fairy cakes from the hotel's on-site bakery before settling into one of the magical 'Marvellous' family suites. There's also something magical about the hotel's award-winning restaurant, Upstairs at West. Choosing the freshest ingredients and promoting local producers, the culinary team, headed by executive chef Martin O'Donnell, manage to create an exceptional and creative dining experience for all. Not forgetting the little ones who can also try their hand at cooking in a pizza masterclass with the hotel's Pizza Dozzina chefs. The fairy-tale package starts at €499 per family for two nights but you can enjoy a third night at the special rate of €140 per family.

3 Family fun

The Ashford Estate comprises more than 350 acres of land and water in beautiful 'Quiet Man country' - Cong in Co Mayo - so it's no surprise that it is home to an abundance of outdoor activities. From archery to golf to horse riding and even falconry, there's something for every guest to enjoy at The Lodge at Ashford Castle. If fishing is a family hobby, The Lodge is located on the banks of Lough Corrib and provides amazing trout, salmon and pike fishing opportunities; or, for a more relaxing option, you could opt for a cruise to explore the various nearby islands. This Easter, The Lodge at Ashford Castle is offering a family package (for families of four with children under the age of 12) a two-night stay including dinner in the Quay Bar & Brasserie, breakfast each morning, bike hire, cruise tickets, an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday, and everything you need for a family movie night from €765 per family.

4 Fit for a princess

Considered to be one of the most beautiful estates in Ireland, Castle Leslie Estate is the ideal place to take your little prince or princess this spring. Situated in Glaslough, Co Monaghan, and just 80 minutes' drive from Dublin, it's surrounded by blankets of green fields and woodlands, offering complete respite and relaxation from life's stresses. If the weather is in your favour, take your children on one of the many nature trails, but if there are April showers, you could book the estate's private cinema and watch some of your favourite movies. There is also a feast of dining options available for all family members, including delicious fare at Conor's Bar at The Lodge, afternoon tea at the Castle and a fine-dining experience at the award-winning Snaffles Restaurant. Starting from €155 per person sharing, Easter at Castle Leslie Estate includes an overnight stay, breakfast and dinner on one evening and an Easter treat on turndown. There's also two, three or five night breaks at the Old Stable Mews or Village Cottages that include a full Irish breakfast in Snaffles Restaurant, a three-course family meal in Conor's Bar and lots of family treats from €700.

5 Sail away

Located in the heart of Athlone, Co Westmeath, within walking distance of train and bus services, the bustling Radisson Blu Hotel is a favourite for many families, thanks to its welcoming and inviting atmosphere and the abundance of activities on the hotel's doorstep. Avail of the location and take a scenic boat trip on the River Shannon or visit Athlone Castle for a lesson in Irish history. After a day spent exploring, retreat to the hotel's Synergy Health and Leisure Club for a dip in the pool or a visit to the sauna and steam room. On Easter Sunday, keep the little ones busy with a fun-filled Easter egg hunt throughout the hotel where they'll indulge in many treats and surprises along the way. Family Easter packages start from €199 and include an overnight stay in a family room (two adults and two children) with breakfast, dinner and an Easter egg hunt. hotel-athlone

6 Relax in Wonderland

Everyone remembers their first time visiting the Powerscourt Hotel. The beautiful, pristine gardens, the unspoiled and charming nearby Dargle River, the old-world interiors of the estate and the peaceful atmosphere are just some of the reasons why people travel from all over the world to visit this haven, just outside Enniskerry in Co Wicklow. You may be just 30 minutes from Dublin, but the hustle and bustle of everyday life will seem very far away. Situated at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains, with views of the Great Sugar Loaf, the Powerscourt Hotel Resort & Spa is one of the most beautiful five-star hotels in the country - and this Easter it is inviting families to take part in a Mad Hatter experience, which includes an egg hunt organised by the Easter Bunny himself. The Mad Hatter Family Easter Escape package includes a two-night stay for two adults and two children plus optional activities in the hotel's Kidzclub, starting from €220 per night.

7 Picture perfect

Located in the heart of the Fermanagh Lakelands - nestled on the grounds of Lower Lough Erne just outside Enniskillen - the Lough Erne Resort promises a relaxing yet fun-filled experience that all family members will enjoy. Spend your time outdoors enjoying the stunning Collop Walk or retreat to The Loughside Bar & Grill for a three-course dinner. During your stay, parents can enjoy the infinity pool and thermal suite at the hotel's Thai Spa, while your little ones can join in on Easter-themed activities in Ernie's Den. Thanks to its picturesque surroundings and calm atmosphere, the five-star Lough Erne Resort is a brilliant place to relax, switch off and spend some quality time with your family. Easter prices start at €395 per night for two adults and two children under 12, and includes breakfast each morning and dinner on one night in the Loughside Bar & Grill.

8 Beside the seaside

Overlooking two very picturesque stretches of beaches in West Cork, Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa is the ideal destination for those wanting to enjoy the seaside. Whether you prefer to surf or simply build a sandcastle, the Atlantic is just on your doorstep here. Considered to be one of Ireland's most tranquil retreats, the West Cork hotel, outside the heritage town of Clonakilty, caters to children of all ages with a dedicated children's lounge, which is kitted out with games and activities to keep them entertained. There's also a Netflix room for those times when you just want to kick back and chill out. A visit to Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa is not complete without a visit to its on-site spa. Taking advantage of its idyllic location, it bases many of its treatments around the use of seawater, sea mud and seaweed - such as the Seawater Therapy Pool, a unique treatment that helps the body absorb the nutrients and goodness from seawater. This Easter, Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa has a two-night family package from €460 for a family of two adults and two children. The package includes breakfast, access to all of the hotel's facilities, a kids' cookery demonstration and an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday.

9 Kids first

With spectacular views of Benbulben mountain and within walking distance of Sligo town, the Clayton Hotel Sligo offers the best of both worlds. Dating back to 1848, the four-star hotel has played an important part in Sligo's history and hosts two churches, Canis Major and Canis Minor, on its grounds - making it ideal for little history buffs. The hotel itself caters wonderfully for young families, offering a huge range of experiences for kids of all ages, including an 18-hole crazy golf course, a kids' club room for arts and crafts and treasure hunts, plus a Kids' Story Time, where each evening little ones can enjoy some downtime with stories and hot chocolate, thanks to the Kids' Club staff. For Easter, the Clayton Hotel Sligo is offering families a package which includes two nights' stay with breakfast and dinner for adults on one evening starting from €139 per person sharing.

10 Get up and go

If the thought of spending your Easter trying to keep the family entertained alarms you, get your brood moving until their heads hit the pillow with an adventure-packed few days at the Delphi Resort. Located in the scenic Delphi Valley near Leenane in Connemara, Co Galway, the four-star hotel is the perfect place to get the hearts pumping and adrenaline soaring. Zip lining, kayaking and surfing are just some of the fun-filled activities on offer and, for smaller children, there's a free kids' club which features activities like arts and crafts, nature walks and mini bush-craft survival training. This Easter, don't miss out on the Delphi Extreme Egg Challenge, which takes place in the Delphi forest. You and your team must complete a range of rugged challenges (including leaping above and around trees and taking part in a mini bobsleigh) while ensuring your egg stays in one piece. Easter family packages here start from €375 (based on two adults and two children sharing) and this includes four-star accommodation, breakfast for the family, as well as two evening Easter activities and free admission to the resort's kids' club.

Irish Independent

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