Over the last few years, spas have sprouted throughout this green and pleasant land. Smart spas, luxury spas, holistic spas; Jo Foley picks her top six

CARTON HOUSE, County Kildare

A massive 18th century Palladian mansion set in over a thousand acres of woods, forest and landscaped parkland, this was once the home of the Earls of Kildare and the Dukes of Leinster.

Now a luxury hotel just 30 minutes from Dublin, it is also home to two fine golf courses, the O’Meara and the Montgomerie (designed by Ryder Cup star Colin Montgomerie) which staged the Irish Open in 2006.

And, of course, it has a state of the art spa, which is run by Molton Brown and located in the converted stable buildings.

Set on two floors, it sports a courtyard swimming pool, a gentle Zen-style garden, seven treatment rooms – one specifically for couples, which comes with its own infinity pool – and a whole choice of hydrotherapy pools, hot tubs, steam room, sauna and a fully equipped gym, plus a juice bar.

Stop by for a massage or a facial or spend the entire day on one of the four ritual journeys on offer – Renew, Regenerate, Replenish or Radiance. Time for only one treatment? Then either opt for an unwind tension relief body massage at 90 euros or a rebalancing crystal body massage at 100 euros.

More info: call +353 1 505 2000 or visit www.cartonhouse.com

SLIEVE DONARD, Newcastle, County Down

Ireland’s largest spa, in this large Gothic manor, can be found at the foot of the Mountains of Mourne and overlooking the Irish Sea, where a good, brisk walk along the sands is as much a relaxing well-being treatment as a facial or massage in this Espa spa.

Slieve Donard is also another golfing hotel, this time housing one of the world’s top courses, the Royal County Down. But golf widows can sensibly retire to one of the 12 treatment suites on the first floor of this magnificent Spa.

Begin your spa journey via the Thermal Suite, which houses a vitality pool, a rock sauna and steam room and then on to the Tranquillity relaxation area before heading for one of the treatment suites and your choice of massage.

As with all Espa spas, on offer is a choice of European as well as Eastern therapies. If you have time for just one treatment, make it a holistic back, face and scalp massage with Hot Stones for �140, while the golfer in your life can opt for Golfers Recovery massage, and, at the same price, it lasts the same length of time, 110 minutes.

The more energetic can visit the state of the art techno gym, or the fitness studio on the ground floor of the Spa complex.

More info: call 028 4372 1066 or visit www.hastingshotels.com


One of the newest additions to Ireland’s stellar spa hotels, this one can also be found in a grand old country mansion, just 700 years old and standing next to the ruins of a thousand-year-old castle.

Capella Castlemartyr is the ultimate in luxury, using a mixture of traditional Irish materials, fabrics and design – Waterford glass and Blarney Woollen Mills blankets and throws along side cool contemporary design.

The Auriga Spa has 13 treatment suites, including one dedicated to couples, as well as an ozone swimming pool, fully equipped fitness centre, a spa caf�, wet rooms, steam room and sauna.

All treatments use natural and organic products from the Organic Pharmacy and the signature treatments are based on the lunar cycle – waxing, new, full and waning – and each lasts for just two hours.

Of course, there is a plethora of massages, wraps, scrubs, manicures and facials to choose from, but, if you have time for just one, then take a Lunar Cycle treatment. Your therapist will advise which one is right for you. Cost is approximately