Heading to the wilds of Wicklow on a windswept February afternoon for strawberries and cream might well be considered a journey too far, but as it happens, the strawberries and cream in question were not for the palette, but part of a new treatment which I had been invited to sample.
The Ritz Carlton Hotel was built at the very height of the boom, so there are all the modern luxuries you might expect. Once you get used to details like flatscreens in the bathrooms, log fires in the huge suites and some pretty luxurious fabrics, robing up in the depths of the spa affords a perfectly cocooned space to unwind.
Strawberries and cream are of course fine, but having been buffeted by the wind and the rain on a cold February afternoon my first thoughts were less along the lines of warm Wimbledon afternoons and more about getting some sorely needed heat into the chill of my bones.
Beginning with a hot-coal sauna and moving on to a Turkish steam room complete with mosaics and an ice cube shower, I soon warmed up.
In total there are 30 different areas that make up the spa complex and even with my capacity for idle luxuries it quickly became apparent that I wouldn't be trying all of them in one sitting. After an introduction from my therapist Sinead, it was time to leave the steam and make a dash for the dark opulence that is the treatment rooms.
After some thorough cleansing and a refresh, a detailed skin analysis was administered to find out the areas that were most dehydrated.
Having found my dry spots, Sinead went to work with some exfoliation and lymph massage and I began to really relax before the main event.
Quite whose idea it was in the first place to mash up a large bowl of strawberries, cream and yogurt and apply it to the face and hands I know not, but as the whole caboodle is chilled beforehand, once the mixture goes on there is a cool, calming sensation that overtakes the skin and works as a treat with the heat of the steam room. I know it might not sound it, but the feeling on the skin is bliss.
By the time my hands had been wrapped in heated mittens for more of the same, things were much brighter on the skin front. Had Sinead popped me under the lights for a second time I'm sure she would have seen a pretty decent improvement in hydration.
The fact that strawberries, yogurt and cream are perfect for strengthening capillaries, removing skin discoloration and the eradication of dead skin cells had become something of a side issue to how the whole thing actually feels. No, you cannot eat the treatment, yes, you will want to, but by way of consolation missing a perfectly good dessert in this way is something I can now recommend.
Having spent the best part of two or more hours being warmed by the heat of the loungers or massaged by the jets of a vitality pool with views over the mountains beyond, it was time to think about leaving the comforts of the spa and head for dinner. Depending on where you are and what you do there, the Ritz Carlton is a hotel of luxury and of contrasts. How anyone could place the noise that must come from a Gordon Ramsay kitchen above the calm of a spa with views of the country beyond tells you something of how the place works. If you have the time, it's well worth the journey.
Factfile: ESPA at the Ritz Carlton Hotel
Where: Enniskerry, Co Wicklow
Treatments: Four Hand Synchronized Massage, Energy Balancing Ritual with Volcanic Stones , Infinite Brightening Age Defier Facial
For afters: Dinner at the Ritz Carlton Gordon Ramsay signature restaurant followed by a long walk within the Powerscourt Gardens
Luxury factor: 5/5
Current Offers: Day spa packages start from €95 and overnight packages start from €215 per couple per night To book:
Call 01 274 8888 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com