The first socially distant staycation offers are starting to flood in. We asked Pól Ó Conghaile to pick something for every price point...
With the green light given to Ireland's hotels, restaurants, self-catering and holiday accommodation to reopen from June 29, the first summer staycation packages are flooding in.
So what can home holidaymakers expect?
Will there be deals of a lifetime after lockdown, or are we looking at a brave new world in which hotels feel more like health clinics?
The answer is probably a bit of both.
“We are already seeing great examples of creativity, innovation and flexibility in terms of how hotels and guesthouses are using their spaces as well as rethinking services, restaurant and leisure facilities so that guests can relax and enjoy their break, secure in the knowledge that they are staying in a safe environment," says Elaina Fitzgerald Kane of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).
Despite the fast-tracking of Ireland's Roadmap for Reopening, with travel around the country now permitted from June 29, Fáilte Ireland has yet to publish its new guidelines on operating procedures.
Those guidelines are expected this week, laying out a playbook for Irish hospitality in times of pandemic. But businesses have already been ploughing ahead with health and safety promises.
All of the accommodations listed below have enhanced cleaning, staff training and social distancing measures either in place or in process, with new hygiene protocols and guest guarantees ranging from buffet bans to pool bookings by appointment and 24-hour gaps between stays.
You can also expect contactless payments, restrictions on things like lifts and lobby space, and temperature checks at some resorts.
Properties should manage guest expectations, but the onus is on holidaymakers to read their Covid-19 updates before booking, too - they can differ, as can cancellation policies.
But "summer is not lost and this can be a summer of hope if we keep the virus at bay", as An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said on Friday.
“Our view is that 2020 will truly become the year of the staycation," adds one Resort Manager, Joanne Walsh of Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh.
Here's a taste of what you can look forward to with some of the best staycation ideas in Ireland.
1. Go wild in Westport
Hotel Westport is set to open on July 10, with B&B rates from €79pp for adults and €35pp for kids sharing. A three-night package including one dinner for a family of four starts at €754. Among its "post-pandemic" staycation initiatives are a new Family Bush Camp focusing on fun bush crafting and survival activities, while maintaining social distance from other guests; and a restaurant pop-up with chef Cian Hayes. 098 25122; hotelwestport.ie
2. Rediscover Dublin at The Dean
Dublin's Dean Hotel has deals aiming to attract people to reconnect (or indeed, disconnect) with loved ones, celebrate special occasions missed, or simply rest and recharge. From June 29, a one-night weekend package starts from €150, including breakfast, dinner at Sophie's Rooftop restaurant, a drink on arrival, in-room 'Netflix & Chill' pack and a late checkout. Stay three nights, and you can get one free, or stay five nights and get an additional two free. 01 607-8110; deandublin.ie
3. Kick back in Kilkenny
Kilkenny is one of the counties pushing hardest for summer staycation business, and the four-star Kilkenny Ormonde has a family package from €250. The deal includes two nights' B&B and one two-course family dinner, with the added insurance of a free cancellation policy. 056 775-0200; kilkennyormonde.com
4. Gourmet Galway
The Twelve Hotel in Bearna, Co Galway, has a two-night 'gourmet getaway' from €480 (i.e. €240pp), including breakfast delivered to your room, dinner in West Restaurant on the evening of your choice, a €60 food credit to be used on the second night and movie night set-up available with room service, including the hotel's Brown Bag cocktails and in-room popcorn machine. 091 597000; thetwelvehotel.ie
5. Family fun in Sligo
Family B&B rates at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa in Sligo start from €179 per night B&B (room rates from €149). As part of its new 'Caring For You' policy, all dining services will have the option of in-room and takeaway, in addition to table service in the restaurant and bar. Radisson's well-known buffets will be replaced by new menus for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. It will reopen from July 2. 071 914-0008; radsligo.com
6. Eastern promise at the Garryvoe
East Cork's Garryvoe Hotel, overlooking Ballycotton Bay, has a two-night deal for a family of four from €399, including B&B and dinner on one evening. A short drive away, you'll find Fota Wildlife Park, lighthouse trips with Ballycotton Sea Adventures, the beautiful Ballycotton cliff walk and Spike Island. 021 4646718; garryvoehotel.com; originalirishhotels.com
7. Head for the Headfort Arms
The Headfort Arms Hotel in Kells, Co Meath has 'Welcome Back' packages from €199 for two adults and two children, including two nights' B&B midweek, or from €249 at weekends. You can add a 'Causey Farm Ice Cream Adventure' from €9pp, while couples' packages start from €129pp. Bog walks, the Loughcrew cairns and Trim Castle are just a few of the options available in the Boyne Valley region. 046 924-0063; headfortarms.ie; originalirishhotels.com
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8. A photo op in Kinsale
Giles Norman is a well-known, Kinsale-based photographer (with a new book due shortly on the Beara Peninsula). But did you know he also runs a townhouse? A 'Kinsale Comeback Campaign' is underway to reboot tourism, and here's one place to stay if you visit - a Georgian townhouse, with rooms individually curated by Norman himself, priced from €150 to €230 per night. Direct bookings get a complimentary bottle of Prosecco on arrival, and booking three or more nights gets a 10pc discount. 021 477-4373; gilesnormantownhouse.com
9. An Ard Nahoo reunion
"There are many uncertainties in our world right now, but one thing’s for sure – we can’t wait to see our loved ones again." So says Noeleen Tyrrell, who runs Ard Nahoo eco-retreat in Co Leitrim. Home to three self-catering Eco Cabins (two sleep families, or all three sleep up to 17 guests in total) as well as a BBQ and hot tub, you can book individual cabins from €330 for weekends, or all three from €1,520 for a weekend or €2,245 for a week. 083 134-6242; email@example.com
10. Get down to Doolin
Forget Covid and focus on ceol agus craic, says this Co Clare hotel. A four-night escape for a family of five includes accommodation at the Piper’s Chair self-catering houses, a welcome hamper on arrival, evening meals from the hotel’s ‘Stonewall Café At Home Range’ and activities including family passes for Doolin Cave and the Cliffs of Moher Cruise, and a family lesson in surfing or rock climbing and yoga each morning. It costs €800; with a couples' version available from €600 in total. 065 707-4111; hoteldoolin.ie
11. Rock n' roll RnR in West Cork
The former home of Jimi Hendrix Experience bass guitarist, Noel Redding, Dunowen House is today a Blue Book bolthole with the option of private catering. "We are getting lots of enquiries from families and small groups of friends who want to get together to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and so on that they may have missed sharing in lockdown," says owner, Kela Hodgins. Weekend self-catering stays are available from €2,000 for up to 23 guests, with weekly rates from €3,800. A celebration package bundling two nights with a catered dinner party on one evening costs from €165pp. 021 886-9099; dunowenhouse.ie; irelands-blue-book.ie
12. Fanningstown Castle, Co Limerick
Fancy your own private castle for a spell? Fanningstown Castle sleeps 10 in five double bedrooms, with generous space across its lounge, library, dining room, kitchen and enclosed patio. The four-star, self-catering set-up is three miles from Adare, with three-night exclusive rentals available from €1,500 to €2,000 in low/high season, and weekly stays from €3,000 to €4,750. Usually, guests come from North America, owner Mary Normoyle says, so here's a chance to have an Irish castle to yourself. 061 395989; fanningstowncastle.com
13. Newforge House, Co Down
The Blue book's Newforge House plans to run two-night breaks for Tuesday/Wednesday and Friday/Saturday stays. "We will not take guests on Thursdays to allow rooms to be thoroughly cleaned and left fallow for 24 hours between stays," Lou and John Mathers say. Dinner is included, and the restaurant will remain closed to non-residents. Weekend breaks currently start from £475. +44 (0) 28 92611255; newforgehouse.com; irelands-blue-book.ie
14. Summer in Sneem
Parknasilla isn't the only show in Sneem, you know. The nearby Sneem Hotel is an Original Irish Hotels four-star, and it has self-catering apartments as well as rooms. Three nights in a two-bed apartment sleeping four starts from €615, including breakfast each day and dinner on two evenings. Three-beds are also available. 064 667-5100; sneemhotel.com; originalirishhotels.com
15. Cliff at Lyons
A refurbished cut-stone village on the Grand Canal in Co Kildare, Cliff at Lyons has two-bed apartments from €185 per night and two-bed cottages from €285 per night. It will begin to reopen from June 10th, offering take out sandwiches, salads and coffees from the Pantry at CLIFF – café and store, with rooms and the Michelin Star Aimsir Restaurant opening on July 1. 01 630-3500; cliffatlyons.ie; aimsir.ie
NB: Trident Holiday Homes has a selection of self-catering holiday homes available to rent from June 29. Offers include €50 off, or a 5pc direct booking discount (Code: Extra5). tridentholidayhomes.ie
16. Seven for Five in Kenmare
John and Francis Brennan's Park Hotel Kenmare is offering seven nights for the price of five, with "unapologetic luxury" promised in the heart of the Kingdom. A Saturday morning hike, garden tours and scheduled lifestyle classes are included, and the spa will reopen too. Rates start from €550 per room night. The offer will run to September 20, and "reservations are good", they say. 064 664-2888; parkkenmare.com
17. Head for The Heritage
Sample Co Laois luxury at The Heritage, where a €145 offer includes B&B, a hamper filled with Afternoon Tea treats and a picnic blanket. You can take the picnic on the estate, or further afield - to places like Emo Court. 'Reconnect at The Heritage' also includes a glass of Prosecco... 057 864-5500; theheritage.com
18. Golf at Dromoland and Doonbeg
Dromoland Castle and Doonbeg Golf Club have teamed up with a golf package bundling two nights' B&B at the five-star castle and tee times at both golf courses from €1,228pp. Dromoland and Ashford Castle have also teamed up with a four-night 'Legendary Castles' offer from €1,800. Health checks at the Co Clare castle include temperature checks on entrance to the estate. 061 368144; dromoland.ie
19. Movie night at The Shelbourne
Ever fancied a stay at the Shelbourne? Rooms prices can be sky high during summer, but a post-lockdown offer has a B&B stay for couples from €299. You can tack on a 'Movie Night' package at €40, which includes hot dishes, sweet treats and a bottle of wine delivered to your room to enjoy with a movie. A family rate for two adults and two kids starts from €369, with the movie pack at €70 extra. 01 663-4500; theshelbourne.com
20. Reconnect at Dublin's InterContinental
The InterContinental's ‘Reconnect & Reunite’ package from €368 per room includes B&B for two, parking and a complimentary crafted cocktail. Groups of four can enjoy a complimentary cocktail making masterclass. 01 665-4000; intercontinentaldublin.ie
NB: All packages, prices, opening dates and details subject to change and public health guidelines.