Irish Bliss in County Cork
By Joan Scobey
Over 200 pastoral acres cradle Castlemartyr Resort, a lovely 18th century manor house near the southern Irish coast. In a stunning architectural timeline, it is flanked on one side by an 800-year-old castle ruin, and on the other by a sleek contemporary glass building. History buffs may gravitate to the former, but spa lovers will head for the gleaming glass rectangle.
A glass gallery lined with modern art connects the main manor house with the Spa and Fitness Centre, where a free-form glass fountain in the reception area heralds the contemporary décor. Think recessed lighting, plank and slate floors, wood paneling. Tall glass walls not only bring light in, but frame Castlemartyr’s exquisite formal gardens as a glorious ever-present backdrop.
The 24,400 square feet facility contains nine treatment studios (many with floor-to-ceiling windows), including two couples rooms, one with a vitality sauna and relaxation suite, plus aromatherapy saunas and steam rooms.
On the second floor, a manicure/pedicure station and a fitness center with a full range of Technogym equipment and daily exercise and relaxation classes (including Aqua Exercise, Pilates and Yoga) overlook the two-story 20-meter glass-enclosed pool and the spacious Jacuzzi-style cascading infinity pool with water lounges and muscle-soothing jets. Three full-time and five part-time therapists administer the spa offerings, and are specially trained in the Anne Semonin technique for draining the lymph nodes to improve skin circulation, decrease puffiness and diminish fine lines and wrinkles; there are only two other spas in Ireland using Anne Semonin products.
The spa’s four signature treatments give you an idea of its holistic approach:
Gaelic Escape 1hr 15mins €140
A deep release massage for the back, feet and legs, along with an anti-stress back therapy to release tension, combat tight muscles and improve circulation, complete with a hot stone back, neck and shoulder massage.
Gaelic Beauty 1hr 25mins €155
A face and eye therapy for a youthful glow, a smoothening and tightening treatment with noticeable lift by using cryo therapy ice cubes and 100% active serums.
Gaelic Body Experience 1hr 30mins €140
A full body therapy designed to smooth, hydrate and relax stressed muscles. An aromatic oil and salt scrub prepares the skin for a deep nourishing phyto-aromatic full body massage.
Anne Semonin Parisian Top to Toe Treatment 1h 25min €145
This treatment begins with an invigorating back cleanse to exfoliate and smooth the skin. A soothing back, neck and scalp massage relieves key areas of tension and muscle tightness. Combined with a customized facial, the result is re-hydrated, nourished and protected skin and an overall sense of calm. A pressure point foot and leg massage finishes this top-to-toe experience.
I chose Gaelic Beauty. Here’s how it went:
First the eyes. Tanya cleansed them, then, for brightening, massaged them with phytarosa serum (macademia oil and beta-coroten, a seaweed nutrient). Next came a mineral eye mask of sea salts and rosemary, plus two drops of tissue serum (spring water plus collagen) to reduce dark circles and puffiness. The finale was intriguing: “eye express” ice cubes made by freezing neuro-cosmetic serum of wild indigo and spring water.
The facial part of my Gaelic Beauty was more straightforward:
- Cleansing with Botanical milk, toning with Botanical toner
- An exfoliating mask with Tahitian black sand salt and poppy seed scrub. This takes a very long and devoted showering to get clean.
- Drainage massage with anti-ageing cream (wild Mexican yam plus aloe vera) and gauze on my face for three minutes.
- A face and eye mask (lavender and sea water), put on together, to hydrate and smooth fine lines and wrinkles
- Meanwhile, a scalp, hand, and arm massage
- The facial ended with a neuro-cosmetic serum ice cube over my face to release endorphins.
Actually, my blissful treatment ended on a lounge in the relaxation room, sipping a fruit smoothie, nibbling a fresh fruit kabob, and contemplating the garden outside.
After all this Gaelic magic, I half expected my green eyes to have turned bonnie blue, and my brown hair into luscious raven locks. Alas, no such luck. The Gaelic Gods can’t work every miracle.
Those signature treatments are only a small part of the Anne Semonin spa regimen, which includes a wide variety of other offerings:
- An advanced facial collection that runs from 25 minutes and €60 to 1hr 25 minutes and €130, including a customized “Made to Measure” treatment for 55 minutes and €90.
- A separate facial collection for men offers three treatments, including a Made to Measure Grooming Facial for 50 minutes and €90 to a Deep Cleansing Detox Facial for 1 hour 15 minutes and €120.
- Specific eye treatments that can be performed separately or added to another facial collection, 25 minutes for €60 or 45 minutes for €75.
- Body therapies that include reflexology for €75, and a variety of massages that run from 25 minutes for €55 to 50 minutes for €90, plus an advanced deep release back massage with hot stones for 25 minutes at €65 or 60 minutes at €110.
- A trio of body wraps that focus on detoxifying, hydrating, and anti-stress that run from 45 to 55 minutes at €75 and €95.
- Two body exfoliations, one an aromatic salt scrub for 25 minutes at €60, the other a show stopping black sand salt scrub massage with black sand from Tahiti for 1 hour 25 minutes at €145 that ends with an aromatic full body massage.
In addition to Anne Semonin, Castlemartyr offers Les Luneïdes, another French product line, for aromatherapy body treatments; its chocolate, grape, and green tea wraps and rituals sound more like a dinner than a spa menu. Body wraps run 25 minutes for 60; most multi-component body treatments are 1 hour 25 minutes for €140.
There is also a full range of finishing touches, from €10 (eyebrow tinting) to €65 (luxury pedicure) and Nails by Jessana, a custom-blended restorative spa line.
Castlemartyr’s various offerings make it easy to sample all aspects of the spa via a Mid Week Packages (€65 to €115), Half Day Packages (€110 to €170), Full Day Packages (€195 to €299), and Treats For Two (€120 to €230 per person). For full details log on to the spa website, www.castlemartyrresort.ie/spa.
Castlemartyr Resort, County Cork, 011 353 21 4219000; www.castlemartyrresort.ie; Preferred Hotels & Resorts, 1.800.323.7500, www.preferredhotels.com. Rates range from about €195.00 to €450.00 per room (one or two persons), and include all leisure facilities, wireless internet access, and VAT and service charges.