THERE's no doubt that domestic family holidays have come a long way since the recession hit, with punters demanding a lot more bang for their euro.
Since we don't have the weather other destinations can rely on, hotel facilities have to be top-notch to keep guests -- especially little ones -- happy.
Carlow is home to Mount Wolseley Hotel, Spa and Country Club, a venue that has recognised the importance of catering towards families with young children and making them feel welcome.
Located in Tullow, a little over an hour's drive from Dublin, this four-star resort is already a favourite with golfers. With an 18-hole championship golf course set in front of the main hotel building, the setting couldn't be more tranquil.
Designed by Christy O'Connor Jnr, the course is said to be challenging -- not that I was going to have much opportunity to test it out, since my wife and I were accompanied by my seven-year-old son, who's not renowned for his patience with "boring stuff".
Although we arrived late on a Friday evening, the main bar was a hive of activity, with kids running around and parents enjoying a tipple along with the bar food.
Family rooms are large and comfortable but those who want more privacy would be advised to stay in one of the four-bedroom houses, a short walk from the hotel.
While the children's programme usually runs on weekdays, there's still plenty for younger guests at the weekends. The leisure club boasts a 20-metre indoor swimming pool and a well stocked gym. Not that my son had any interest in allowing me near -- the two huge bouncy castles outside had caught his attention.
Then it was off to the playground, which includes a football pitch, tennis and basketball court, swings, slides and play houses. If the weather's not up to scratch, there's lots to do in the playroom, with supervised activities for children aged four to 12. There's also a games room, with pool tables, for teenagers.
There's plenty of choice for dining -- bar food portions are large while Frederick's Restaurant is the fine-dining eatery. Four-course set options are available -- prices are around €50 a head -- with a more moderately priced early bird, usually between 6pm and 7pm.
Mount Wolseley currently has mid-term family specials. Three-night breaks with a fourth for free start from €259pps, including two set meals in Frederick's Restaurant. Children under 12 stay for free.
A five-night break, with a sixth night's B&B for free, starts at €449pps, including three evening meals in Frederick's. Children under 12 stay for free.
For more information see www.mountwolseley.ie or call 059 91 80100