Delphi: Luxury and adventures combine in a zippy Connemara staycation
Short breaks in Ireland
Want five-star activities at four-star prices? Zip over to Connemara, says Margaret Donnelly.
Set the mood
I'm 30 feet above ground, holding onto a rope for dear life.
This was not how I thought my zip wire experience would go. Zip 'n' Trek sounded like my kind of thing, and I'd passed the more difficult aerial activities with flying colours - climbing across shaky ropes and leaping a gap 20m above ground - but the 'fun' zip wire had me petrified.
Eventually, with lots of coaxing, I scooched off the platform with zero grace or bravado... and lived to tell the tale. Phew!
Most activity holidays have one issue - they're based on single sports. I've done hiking holidays in the UK and cycling breaks in Spain and Ireland, but I'll definitely be staycationing again at Delphi Resort: it offers the luxury of a hotel set in the great outdoors, but also a host of activities - from kayaking to coasteering, biking, archery and a bog obstacle course. Its food and spa are the icing on the cake.
Unlimited hot water and squelching seaweed between your toes in a candlelit room - what better way to relax and rejuvenate tired muscles after a kayak across a fjord?
Connemara's native seaweed grows in abundance around Killary Harbour, and it's hand-harvested for your pampering pleasure in the Delphi Spa. As well as the baths (from €39.50), you can book seaweed body scrubs (from €50) and hot stone massages (€120 for 90 minutes) among the treatments - taking some home is also an option (it can be dried and reused!).
All guests get an hour in the Thermal Suite as part of their stay.
The hills and mountains around Leenane call out to hillwalkers or anyone looking to escape modern life for a day, weekend or longer. Pack a lunch, tie up the sturdy boots and set off (keep an eye out for otters, swans and seals in the fjord, too).
If you hike in Connemara National Park, about 40 minutes away, stop in to Letterfrack Lodge (lodge.ie) for sustenance - local treasures like Derryinver scallops, Bernard King's mountain lamb and Killary muscles steamed in Irish cider dot a surprising menu.
Daniel Willimont is the new head chef at Delphi, having previously worked at Ballina's Mount Falcon Estate. You'll have no trouble working up an appetite for his dishes doing activities. McGeough's air-dried beef and the slow-cooked lamb are local highlights.
Be prepared to switch off. There are no TVs in the rooms and a phone signal can prove elusive. Film buff? There's life beyond The Quiet Man (1952), you know. Leenane featured extensively in John B Keane's The Field (1990) - and, while the humpback bridge has succumbed to the weather, Gaynor's pub has an extensive collection of memorabilia. Scenes from Marley & Me (2008) were shot locally too.
Delphi's bar has the feeling of a functional hotel lobby - the resort would benefit from a cosier and more welcoming bar space.
Get me there
Don't be fooled into thinking Delphi Resort is just outside Galway - it's not far on the map, but winding roads take an hour and 15 minutes from the city (from Westport, served by train from Dublin, it's 35 minutes).
A 'Back to Delphi Reunion' package has two nights' B&B with one dinner and a full day of activities from €216 per person. Fancy a trip down memory lane? Opt for a hostel room! 095 42208; delphiadventureresort.ie.
Read more:Family Gatherings: 10 great places to get the gang together in Ireland Delphi: Adventures in luxury? Yes please! Best Irish Adventure: Here's the activity you most want to do in 2017!