As we turn off the main road in the village of Kenmare onto a drive leading gently uphill between rows of stately trees, Park Hotel Kenmare slowly reveals itself — a tranquil stone manor house covered with climbing vines and leaves just beginning to turn golden and rusty in the crisp fall air. The sense of genteel graciousness builds in the entrance lobby, where cheerful members of the staff greet me and my husband, James.
Most of the 5-star hotel’s lower level has sprawling rooms and halls that offer serene views of the rear grounds. Our generously sized suite is filled with antiques handpicked by proprietors Francis and John Brennan. The bedroom boasts quite possibly the largest carved, wooden wardrobe I’ve ever seen, and a separate sitting room offers a deep, comfortable sofa and matching chairs. On the stair landing leading to this suite — one of 46 accommodation choices — large, hanging portraits and a suit of medieval armor have both of us imagining that we’re at one of those country house weekends that were regular features in practically everything ever penned by P.G. Wodehouse, and that someone’s aunt might show up at any moment to see if we’d like to join the rest of the guests for a rousing game of croquet on the lawn.
Timing being everything, we’ve instead managed to arrive at the cocktail hour. We’re shown to a stone-flagged terrace overlooking a path that leads into the forested grounds behind the house. My husband, a connoisseur of martinis, has heard the praises of barman John Moriarty sung by friends in the U.K. and at home in the States, who claim that John’s prowess with a martini shaker is unparalleled. James puts him to the test and is not disappointed.
The following afternoon, it’s time for treatments at the 10,500-square-foot SÁMAS spa, named for an ancient Gaelic word meaning “to indulge the senses.” The space takes me completely by surprise — the elegant minimalism is in direct contrast to the design of the traditional, 1897 main house, but the length of glassed walkway connecting the two spaces makes the transition seamless. Arriving at stairs leading to the peaceful reception area and spa café, I climb upward to the accompaniment of soothing music from the water wall that borders the stairs.
The spa is limited to hotel guests, and appointment times are staggered so the chances of one guest’s visit being impacted by another’s are slim — a brilliant idea. My three-hour treatment, the SÁMAS Experience, begins with an hour spent in the women’s thermal suite (identical to the men’s), with a large dry sauna, themed jet shower area and a fragrant steam chamber. Though the thermal suites are separate, they open into the shared outdoor infinity pool, outfitted with a selection of massage jets. A deck on each side looks out over the resort’s Lost Garden.
My deep-tissue massage is relaxing and pleasant but a bit dissatisfying. Though I ask my therapist several times to use firmer pressure, she doesn’t seem to take me seriously. The result is more along the lines of a traditional Swedish session: very nice, but not at all what my shoulders and lower back were craving. Afterwards, I spend the third hour of my therapy in the women’s relaxation lounge, a glassed-in space that capitalizes on the views of the tangled, mossy woodland beyond. A platter of fruit and nuts is delivered, and I’m covered with a warm wrap and left to relax as the late afternoon slips toward dusk.
The spa also features ESPA treatments, a full menu of facials, body wraps, hot stone therapies, manicures, pedicures and body polishes — with some choices designed specifically for men — and a range of pre- and post-natal rituals for mothers-to-be. Movement offerings include tai chi, yoga and a nicely equipped fitness studio with a selection of cardio and strength-training equipment. Treatment rooms were constructed to meet recording room standards in order to ensure an atmosphere of quiet and serenity. They also feature private shower gardens for wet treatments that allow guests to rinse without having to leave the room. Multi-day getaways for men, women and couples, billed as “LifeStyle ProgrAmmes,” combine spa treatments with outdoor activities ranging from horseback riding, hiking and golf to boating, game fishing and guided heritage walks.
Before breakfast the next morning, there’s time for a long walk and ample landscape to explore. Adjoining the hotel grounds, the 18-hole, par-71 Kenmare Golf Club’s parkland course is still glistening with dew but already busy. The hotel’s private grounds encompass 12 acres of winding pathways and thoughtfully arranged resting spots with benches and views, and a collection of trees from all corners of the world. Overlooking sparkling Kenmare Bay and the Hills of Beara Peninsula, the property borders on national forest land offering additional walking trails and bridle paths.
We walk through the picturesque town center — twice granted Ireland’s prestigious “Tidiest Town” award — and peer into shop windows. The Kenmare Lace and Design Centre is here, where the famous handmade Kenmare lace is still an ongoing enterprise. We walk a few more blocks and find the ancient Druid stone circle in a small meadow just off the town’s center. The circle is composed of 15 enormous boulders, 13 of which stand upright, with two resting on their sides and one stone in the center. Estimated to have been assembled between 2000 and 1000 B.C., its purpose is anyone’s guess, though the orientation toward the sun has caused scholars to speculate that the stones were part of a calendar system or were deliberately positioned to be part of a spiritual practice.
After dinner, we watch a film in the hotel’s Reel Room, an intimate space with 12 plush seats and a big screen. Later we head upstairs to bed, and I throw open the windows to let in the night air. I was told that the name Kenmare comes from the Irish word neidin, which translates to “little nest,” and as I drift away to the lovely strains of the dinner pianist playing on the main floor, I reflect that the association is absolutely perfect.
Park Hotel Kenmare
County Kerry, Ireland
tel 353 64 664 1200
TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020, a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.
Southwest Airlines is adding new flights to, from and within Hawai’i, beginning mid-January 2020. The airline will add a new daily service between Sacramento International Airport and Honolulu (HON), plus new non-stop flights between Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC) and both Kauai (LIH) and the Island of Hawai’i (KOA).
The Luxury Collection welcomes its eighth property in China with the opening of Na Lotus Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nanning. The property is situated in the capital of the Guangxi Province, in a high-rise landmark building in the business district.
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 24 key metrics to determine the best destinations for an upcoming Oktoberfest celebration. The brand’s study found the estimated cost for an American to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is $5,000. Munich boasts a $1.43 billion annual economic impact on Munich. During Oktoberfest, nearly 2 million gallons of beer are consumed and more than 510,000 whole roast chickens eaten.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
Qantas will start using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its Sydney–Santiago route starting in late June 2020.