Review: Kelly's Resort & Spa, Rosslare
Overnight stays in Ireland.
If there were an Irish team of hotels, a collection of our most loved, accomplished and individual properties, Kelly's would surely be among the first names on the list.
Why: Celebrating 120 years in 2015, this Rosslare institution has grown over five generations from a tearoom to perhaps our premier family-friendly four-star. It doesn't have customers, it has ambassadors.
Highlights: Kelly's formula is unique, combining indulgent food and wine (don't miss the crab claws at Beaches restaurant) with beach walks on Rosslare Strand and facilities that have been thoughtfully augmented over the years to include tennis courts (indoor and out), a quality spa and leisure centre, crazy golf and much more. Every January it closes for improvements… this year, there's word of a revamped reception and private dining room.
Low points: At times, I think the bedrooms at Kelly's fall short of the standards it sets elsewhere. They're perfectly acceptable, but could do with replacing some underwhelming features - tiny flat-screen TV here, an old phone there - with a few flourishes. The hotel also adds a 10pc service charge.
Room to book: If you can swing it, book a junior suite. It's also worth mentioning that not all family rooms are alike, so enquire when booking if a little more space, or a useful alcove, might improve the fit for your brood.
Best for: Kelly's takes its little guests as seriously as its big ones, offering a quality kids' club, dedicated meals, a daily disco, lots of prizes and even a T-shirt to take home. Midweek during school-term, however, the emphasis is on adults, with wine tasting, cookery demos, ballroom dancing and gardening just some of the activities creatively packaged for guests.
Concierge's choice: Kelly's art collection is world-class. The family has been collecting for decades, and you'll find works by Andy Warhol, Louis le Brocquy and Rowan Gillespie throughout. Even the dinner plates were designed by Guggi.
Guests of honour: Bono, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are among the celebs to have stayed, but my favourite story concerns George Bernard Shaw, who holidayed here in the 1920s. According to lore, Nicholas Kelly once intercepted a group of drunken young men intent on trimming his beard!
Rates: B&B with full-board is available from €125pp in February, with a two-night weekend break from €310pp. The hotel re-opens February 12.
Book: (053) 913 2114; www.kellys.ie
Read more: 10 great reasons to visit Wexford