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Special K

Think of the K Club and you think of world-class golf, a sumptuous spa and fine dining overlooking the leafy banks of the River Liffey.

You'll also think of five-star service, pampering and indulging yourself in one of Ireland's finest stately buildings.

The last thing on your mind, though, would be bringing your kids along.

But while you'd be right on every other count, banish your preconceptions.

Like many luxury hotels, the K Club's been wrongly portrayed as merely a playground of the rich and famous.

While they're sure to be counted among the guests, families are welcome here.

Action-packed children's clubs are run by the hotel, with themed activities specific to each season. Around Easter, real live chicks are the centre of attention in their own home in the plush hotel lobby while during summer, the sprawling grounds are the perfect place to play.

There's an exhausting range of things to do, with children's bicycles available to tour the resort, swimming lessons available on request in the state-of-the-art pool, a year-round playground, complete with miniature football pitch, in the walled garden and DVDs available to take to your room.

For the more adventurous child, there's a chance to learn to fly fish on the hotel's stretch of the Liffey, which is teeming with fish, and shuttles are available to take the kids to nearby Naas cinemas, while even trips to Dublin Zoo can be arranged.

The resort has teamed up with the neighbouring Abbeyfield Farm (www.abbeyfieldfarm.com) in Clane for something a little different.

Children from seven years up can try their hand at air-rifle shooting -- and knocking down the targets in the large range is great craic, while those 12 years and upwards can blast away clay pigeon shooting.

Gentler pursuits -- including pony and horse riding -- are also available on the friendly farm, with activities available to book from the hotel.

Parents get a look in too. If you've got a baby sitter booked for your room, the Byerley Turk, overlooking some of the hotel's 550 sprawling acres, is one of the best (and prettiest) fine-dining rooms in the land, while the adjoining brasserie-style River Room also offers fine cuisine, with special menus tailored by the top chefs for younger palates.

The Vintage Crop bar is lovely at all times of the year, but really comes into its own when you can sip a glass of wine al fresco on the terrace, while the two golf clubhouses also offer a range of dining (and drinking) options.

Rooms, as you'd expect, are opulent, with antique furniture, and bathrooms that truly are the best in their class.

If you're a golf nut, you might not be able to tear yourself away from the action on the selection of Sky Sports channels, while children will be fighting for the remote to catch the satellite kids' channels -- a rarity in many hotels -- including many at the top end of the scale.

But while your jaw will drop taking in the fabulous surroundings -- including a priceless selection of Jack B Yeats paintings -- what will stick in the mind is the service, including the fact that your children will, like the adults, be treated like royalty.

>> This weekend is extra special at the resort, where brides-to-be can dream of a fairtytale wedding reception. Hosted by former Miss World Rosanna Davison, the K Club Wedding Extravaganza will feature more than 30 of the finest wedding suppliers, with the resort showcasing how it can turn your big day dreams into reality.