Tag Archives: RELAXATION

Lucky Thirteen of 2013: The Year of Disposable Knickers

8 Jan

I was extremely fortunate last year, and enjoyed spa experiences up and down the country. I think the only corners I didn’t get to visit were down in Kerry and up in Donegal. Well, okay, and the very bottom in Cork, and maybe there is someplace in up in Antrim that would like my kind attention to their matters of mind, body, and spirit.

Not bein’ smart: it really is beneficial to all three to go and get some class of treatment somewhere. I wrote this in a burst of gratitude and guilt, and it still holds true. Self-care is important, and under the below circumstances, it ain’t cheap. The thing that is good though is that those local to such places might like to join the mailing lists of such posh spas — you never know what sort of deals are going down. That will cost you nothing…

***

REVAS SPA fitzpatricks
I went to REVAS SPA in Fitzpatrick’s Woodlands Hotel in Adare, Co Limerick, less than a month after I’d arrived back home after my dad passed away. Since his mum was from Limerick City, I am not discounting his hand in this gig, and indeed in all the spa treats I got this year. This came up somewhat last minute; lots of internet organisation ensued, as I was going to have to get the bus to the train to the bus to a taxi to get there. Would it all be worth it in the end?

It would, even with the usual but-the-website-said unreliability of information on our wee rock. I had expected to leg it off the train for the bus, because that’s-what-the-website-said {is Bus Eireann’s the worst website in the world? I think so!}, but yeah, no. I did have enough time, though, to go light a candle for my dad in his mother’s parish church, which, given time, space, generations, and an ocean, was kind of like a miracle.

My treatment at Fitzpatrick’s was kind of like a miracle, too, mainly when it was over: I got tucked into a daybed, wrapped in fleece, given fruit and a healthy beverage, and left to lay there. I would still be lying there if I had my way. It felt as relaxing and decadent as anything I’d ever done, swathed in warmth and feeling entirely relaxed. I had the Essence of Fiji treatment, which involved full body exfoliation, massage, and a facial. Prior to that, I enjoyed the freedom of the Thermal Suite, which, to my mind, is as important as anything that is to transpire in the treatment rooms.

I felt that their suite, while well-appointed, was a little down-at-heel and in need some sprucing up — and then I found the mahoosive outdoor hot tub, and much was forgiven.

I will also say that the spa is a significant distance from the main body of the hotel, which is something of a buzz kill. Otherwise, everything else was fab, from the room to the food to the service. Also, having been able to drop the name of a dear pal in Dublin who is originally from the locality — well, that didn’t hurt. Heart U Éire!

***

SPA SALVEO knockranny
Speaking of my ancestry. My great-gran on my dad’s side is from the Ballyhaunis area, and the invitation to spend a couple of days at Knockranny House Hotel in Westport, to avail of their Wellness and Radiance Ritual also seemed eerily apt. All I remember is that they use Kerstin Florian products, that the massage got down into the marrow of my bones, and that I saw God {She’s gorgeous.}

Well, okay, that’s not all: SPA SALVEO has garnered many awards lo these many years, and it’s easy to see why. The thermal suite is compact but complete; the pool is a decent length for getting your laps in; there’s a jacuzzi type set-up in a corner of the pool that is seriously strong and feels great; the staff and practitioners are welcoming and well able to deliver an unforgettable experience.

The hotel itself is enormous. When I was heading to my room, it felt a bit like The Shining, with its seemingly endless hallways. The room itself had more furniture in it than I would sit on in a week, much less two days, and the bathroom was stunning. I love a good bathroom.

As well, the food and service was spectacular. This was a large gathering of beauty journos, and it was utterly the craic. The train back to Dublin was a hungover post-party conveyance, with the majority of carriages filled with sore-headed folk returning after a weekend of debauchery in da Wesht. Couldn’t have asked for a better crowd with which to travel.

***

MUCKROSS PARK cloisters
When I was designer for lady magazines, I would routinely do layouts for spa awards, and inevitably would be working with the photo above, and would inevitably yearn to be there. CLOISTERS SPA in Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney is another one of those multi-award winning venues, and I wrote in full about it here. I just transported myself back, through time and space, to their outdoor hot tub. *Sigh*

***

SPIRIT ONE radisson
I interviewed Emer Gillen of Elemis here, about the tenth anniversary of Pro-Collagen Marine Cream’s launch, and about various other skincare related matters. There, too, find my review of the Elemis Pro-Collagen Quartz Lift Facial in SPIRIT ONE SPA in the Radisson Blu Galway, which also involved the massage of shoulders, hands, and feet – which is genius, because I always find myself yearning for a facial when I get a massage, and a massage when I get a facial…

This was another big beauty journo bash and once again the craic was had. Did I mention that on many of these jaunts, I am able to bring a pal? A pal was brought along on this one, and we got breakfast brought to the room, and sat around and chatted for ages — for so many ages that the front desk actually rang to see if we realised we had to check out.

***

FRANCE le petit dejeuner
Oh, bon jour! This was a big trip, to the South of France grace á EAU THERMALE d’AVÈNE, to the town of Avène-les-Bains, to avail of their therapeutic bath treatment and learn more about the spa, and the products in which the water figures largely.

I had met Bao-Tan Pham, head marketer for the spa’s brand, and have a Q&A with her here. She accompanied us on the junket that incorporated not only the benefits of the spa, but the indisputable delights of cold champagne on hot Mediterranean nights, chats, and gorgeous, delicious food.

The treatment itself is shown to greatly reduce the severity of skin conditions like psoriasis, and is beneficial to burn victims, too. I was the de facto translator, and I did très bien, thanks very much. The bath itself was only twenty minutes long, but oh! what a comprehensive twenty minutes it was. It was followed by a shower that sprayed at us with varying degrees of strength, and then we all got to lay down and sigh in room full of loungers that overlooked a typically Southern French landscape. Le bliss! My skin was so clean and clear that I felt the Avène products that I used, when we were done, were working even more effectively than I had known them to work previously.

One night, we went out to eat by the sea, and the man set fire to the fish:
FRANCE le grande motte

And on the last day, we sat and moaned on the rooftop terrace of a truly stylish and fabulous Montpellier boutique hotel:
FRANCE montpellier roof top pool

***

I zipped down to Kilkenny, a town I adore, for an overnighter in the Lyrath Estate Hotel, to give OASIS SPA a look in. I was to try their Ginger Renewal, an 85 minute treatment incorporating {ha} scrubbing, rubbing, and wrapping.

Service was a little funky, as the hotel is in receivership, but the place itself is being kept in great nick. Below, as perfect an autumnal view out of a hotel window that it is possible to gaze upon:
LYRATH grounds
Now, back in my days of designing spa awards pages, I downloaded many a photo of hot stone massage, which looked like a stupid and useless treatment, because the stones were laid down the spine, and what, left there til they cooled?

Uh, the therapist actually rubs the hot stones all over your body? Am I the only person in the world not to know that? I was too zoned out to laugh at myself, at that stage, although I am sure I made a noise. I suppose they are used to it, but I’ll take this opportunity to apologise to all the aestheticians at whom I grunted and gurgled in 2013.

Anyway, look at this.
LYRATH outdoor jacuz
I clearly have a fetish for containers of water placed in the out-of-doors, because here’s another hot tub that opens out into the wild. This is maybe the best one because you don’t have to entirely leave the building, so less feeling vulnerable in your togs. It’s more like a pool than a tub, too, and you can drape yourself over the edge and ponder the shrubbery as bubbly water massages your bod, and cool air wafts over your face.

***

So, fingers crossed for 2014, but also: do investigate deals and such, especially of the day spa variety. Leaving is always a buzz kill, but most of the relaxation areas were worth their weight in gold — espesh at Revas, and at Cloisters — and even when you have to drive away after, you’ll have given yourself a really fantastic treat.

Also: brides! Ask for this on your registry!

***

Sweet Sixteen Minus Six: Voya Lazy Days

22 Mar

Wish I had one of these on me right now. Still the best, most relaxing bath I have ever enjoyed. This is Sweet Sixteen Minus Six, number 6.

***

I have always loved seaweed products. I used a powdered version for the bath {Seavite? I think so} that really required a strong drive to use, as it made a complete and utter mess of the bath after it was done. I mean, like, total ring-around-the-tub mess, and talk about a buzzkill, having to clean it up almost immediately after having sent all your tension down the drain. [Or else you have an argument with your live-in-fella-at-the-time because you let the mess go for a day or two, also a buzzkill.]

VOYA Lazy Days Seaweed BathI wasn’t sure about this when I got the box. I mean, it’s a box. How’s seaweed supposed to fit in a box? I knew the Voya line very well, and have even had their seaweed baths, based in Strandhill, Co Sligo, on my to-do list almost since I moved to Ireland. I knew that the entire product line was organic, and that the seaweed itself is harvested by hand. I didn’t know that you could get it freeze-dried into a roughly rectangular bundle.

Well, it is possible. The hunk of seaweed has been helpfully inserted into a mesh bag; there is, in addition, a wee bag of dead sea salt. <I wasn’t sure whether to captilise that or not, but Voya haven’t. Is ‘dead sea salt’ a thing that is separate now from the Dead Sea? Anyway: as instructed, I ran the bath full of hot, hot water and dropped the brick of weed in. I left the room to let it sit — I had to, because almost immediately the pure, salty scent of the seaweed began to waft around the bath. As I didn’t want to lose a layer or two of skin, which I would have done had I immersed myself, I went and did some email.

When I could bear it no longer, I went back and ran the water cold, sprinkled in some salt, and got in. Now, I love a good bath, and I go the full whack, with candles and a glass of wine, or when the circumstances demand, a short glass of Laphroaig, and appropriate musical accompaniment. Even then, I tend to get bored long before the water begins to cool. Not this time: I kept topping up the bath with as much hot water as it could handle without overflowing. I squeezed the now-football shaped net of weed to release even more of the gel that had infused the water. I was in there for almost 45 minutes.

If you take good care of it — I put mine in a large mixing bowl and covered the top with cling film — you can get another bath out of the ball. It’s not as transcendent as the first, but it is still pretty boss.

The re-hydrated bag of seaweed was pretty impressive, and also pretty: it bore no resemblance to the stuff that washes up on a beachy strand, and looked as if each… frond?… had been groomed to reveal its jagged beauty. I felt as relaxed as if I had visited the Strandhill baths themselves. This is a sublime treat for body and mind. Bonus: a cursory swipe of the bath the next morning was as hard as I had to work to clean up. In my book, there is no higher praise.

***

Voya Lazy Days €16/£15.50/$32

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How to be the Best Child in the History of Children: sansanaSPA and Mother’s Day

5 Mar

Even though I am a fancy beauty reviewing lady, I don’t get to go to spas, like, every week. Much less every month! I am a lucky, fancy beauty reviewing lady in that I do get the occasional treatment, and every time I do get one, I’m all I should really {get a facial/a massage/a full-body exfoliation} more often!

And funnily enough, I never do!

After having spent hours in the sansanaSPA in the Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire, my first thought wasn’t about me, for once. I immediately thought of all the mums, and all the daughters looking for gifts for them for Mother’s Day. Ladies — and any gentleman who may be reading — here’s the best thing you could ever give your mum, ever, ever.

I enjoyed a 90 minute Shirodhara treatment just last week, and I’m still sighing.

Because I am a fancy beauty reviewing lady, I have set foot, and body-on-plinth, in many a day spa. This is, hands down, the quietest one I’ve ever been in. Not that it wasn’t busy, because it was — but the soundproofing is sublime, and added to the rest of the solicitous attention I was receiving, the restful silence was the cherry on the ‘I am a special snowflake’ sundae.

I’ve been in treatment rooms that, for the level of noise that never seemed to abate, may as well have been in a lay-by on the M50. I have had my mellow harshed by endless opening and slamming doors, and have been irritated beyond belief by loud talking from the relaxation rooms that has not been adequately shushed by staff. The sansanaSPA staff are assiduous in maintaining the kind of atmosphere you’d expect in a retreat spa in the middle of the country.

So there’s that already, supplying your mum with an atmosphere that is geared to treat her like a queen, and she hasn’t even gotten into her plush robe yet!

Sansana Spa Treatment

I love pictures of treatment rooms. And look at the Thermal Suite!

Sauna

At the far end of the aisle? That’s a bowl of crushed ice, which you spread upon your body, um… because you are insane? No! Because it’s a thing you do after {before?} the steam or the sauna. Or something. I don’t like cold, so I didn’t go near it.

Use of the the Thermal Suite is included in the session. There are also Experience Showers {!}, a room with floaty-mattress beds upon which to lie, a Mud Room, and my fave: the Heated Marble Beds. Just the perfect temperature, not too-too hot, and not some wimpy lukewaryish excuse for heat, either. These beds — ah! Even as relaxed as I was after the Shirodhara, I went and reclined for another twenty minutes. Well, you can never be too stress-free, can you?

sansanaSPA

In the background: the marble beds. <3 u, marble beds!

I also enjoyed a 30 minute swim in the Royal Marine’s pool. *Sigh*

Onto the treatment: the name Shirodhara comes from the Sanskrit for ‘head’ and ‘flow’, respectively. Based on the principles of Ayurveda, it involves the pouring of liquids, in this case warmed oil, over the third eye.

Right. I immediately thought of some scary, Homeland-y kind of water torture jawn, and wasn’t sure about this part. The other parts, grand: a rose foot bath, a full body massage, the regular application of eucalyptus-infused hot towels, and a facial cleanse/massage — super, no worries, bring it on.

But the oil-on-forehead thing was all set to freak me out.

It is so not freaky.

It is so… decadent. Sensuous. Relaxing. Indulgent. The warm, scented oil flows and flows, and runs down your crown, nourishing your scalp, and you — me — your mum would ever want it to end.

This is literally a top-to-toe extravaganza of a chill out.

My aesthetician recommended that I leave the oil in overnight, which I did. She had also recommended sleeping with my head wrapped in a towel, which I did not do, which was a poor choice. I’ve ruined that pillow slip, and I’ve tried washing the oil stain out twice. So do what the lady says, is the moral of that story.

Don’t plan anything — I mean, make sure your mum doesn’t have anything on after this, because the bliss, it should be embraced for the rest of the day.

The treatment costs €99, and is worth every single little penny.

And if you’re feeling super-generous, you can get a sibling in on the gig, sharing the Best Child status, and also the cost.

I’ve just sighed again. It really was fantastic. You could even go have a nice tea up in the Hotel beforehand, and then toddle off — I mean, send mum down to the spa.

Okay, I have to stop writing about this now.

*Sigh*…

***

The Shirodhara treatment is 90 minutes, at a special introductory offer of €99. Ring 01 271 2563 or email sansanaSPA@royalmarine, for more information.

***

Haiku Review: VOYA Organic Marine Eye Treatment

17 Apr

Voya’s seaweed treat:
The eyes have it, and also?
Hydrotherm mattress!

I have been fairly blasé about eye creams, eye treatments, and the entire eye area in general. This view {ha, ha} has been altered somewhat since the great Botox/Restalyne adventure. Areas that have been plumped up are now highlighting, in an averse fashion, areas that are not so plump. Which is the first step down the slippery slope to pillow face.

In a bid to delay injections of stuff into the eye area, which just makes me go ‘Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!’, it seems like a good idea to A} start using eye cream, and B} check out a treatment that targets the delicate area, and see what kind of improvements can be made organically.

Organic being the key word when it comes to VOYA. You can read all about their use of seaweed here, and as I’ve said in the past, I adore a good marine-based therapeutic experience. There is nothing like water for healing what ails you, from the physical to the emotional. I was delighted to avail of the leisure centre in the Rochestown Lodge Hotel before my Organic Marine Eye Treatment. Got some laps in, in the 15 metre pool, sat in the steam room, sat in the sauna, sat in the Jacuzzzzzz — ah, God, hot, bubbly water. Best. Thing. Ever.

Already completely relaxed, I entered the hotel spa, Thérèse R Wellbeing and Beauty. I chilled for a bit in the room on the left, and then in the room on the right:

Both proved to be excellent venues for putting up one’s feet and almost falling asleep.

The 45 minute treatment, like all good ones, involves more than the eyeball area. Whilst they were, of course, the focus {ahhhh}, I also got some decolleté action, and a scalp massage. A scalp massage!

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself.

>First: general cleansing, of the face and the chest area, followed a misting-by-toner, which was great. Christine, the beauty therapist, sprayed it like, four feet over my head, and the anticipation of it wafting down on to my skin was half the pleasure.

>Second: lymphatic massage. Still haven’t really satisified myself as to what the lymphs are, besides glands. I am sure I looked this up before, and probs even posted about it. It has not sunk in. Whatever it is, it felt great when Christine administered it, all around my eye socket and then down to my neck and shoulders.

>Third: Seaweed eye patches. Seaweed eye patches! Now these — I definitely want these for home. The patches are loaded with vitamins, and they were so cooling and soothing… just what I’d like to lay on my lids after a hard day’s blogging. They did their job during my scalp massage, which is just the next best thing ever, after hot bubbly water.

>>>Meanwhile, let us not forget the hydrotherm mattress, which gently supported me, warmly and whooshily, throughout the whole process.

>Finally, the application of VOYA’s Bright Eyes cream. Why does it feel so much more effective when someone else applies it? My eyes looked amazing after, and I never thought I’d ever recommend something like this, but this would be the perfect treatment to get on the day of a big event. I would never recommend doing anything after a treatment, apart from going home and napping, but this was relaxing without being completely … emptying, if you know what I mean? This would be an excellent bridal thing, on the Big Day.

I hope I get into the habit of this eye cream thing. I have, somewhat, since I am testing a bunch for the Herald, and I’m lining up a few that seem to make a difference. We’ll see. {Sorry.}

The VOYA Organic Marine Eye Treatment, €52, is available in spas nationwide, ring VOYA on 071 9168956 for more information.

Moving House Does Murder Sleep*

2 Mar

I think I’ve gotten into the swing of sleeping in the new place, but holy wow, the first two or three nights were almost impossible.

Or they would have been if not for AVON’S Sleeptherapy Goodnight Pillow Mist. I don’t know what’s in it, except it smells like lavender, which makes sense. All I know is, I spritz a bit of this on my pillows and I am out like a light.

Now, going to sleep, at the best of times, is not all that easy, not for me. My mind chatters like a monkey, even when I am telling it to hush up, and what with the stress of the move blah blaaaaah, I was all set up to be cranky for several days running.

Not with this stuff. In fact, I had it by my {new} bedside, the second night, and at around 3am, when it became clear that quality snooze was not happening, I remembered to spray the pillows and off I went, land of nod-bound.

I don’t use it every night, but it’s there when I need it, and that’s all I need!

Avon’s Sleeptherapy Goodnight Pillow Mist €6/£4.50

*Apologies, Scottish play.

It’s Leap Year, and You All Know What That Means: Reprised*

28 Feb

Right? You know what that means? If not, get this:

On the British isles, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only on leap years. While it has been claimed that the tradition was initiated by Saint Patrick or Brigid of Kildare in 5th century Ireland, this is dubious, as the tradition has not been attested before the 19th century.

Wha’? I don’t even — it’s an Irish thing? This is from Wikipedia; naturally, I took that with a grain of salt and went off a’googling. Now, it occurs to me that the internet is just a massive self-fulfilling prophecy, in that information is taken from one website and put in another, because where else are we going to get our information, and everything you see on a screen is true. Right? I don’t know, it just hit me, that this is so, and made me wonder about the things we think we know… I’ve always been easily led, but today is the day I question everything.

From about.com:

St. Bridget’s Complaint
It is believed this tradition was started in 5th century Ireland when St. Bridget complained to St. Patrick about women having to wait for so long for a man to propose. According to legend, St. Patrick said the yearning females could propose on this one day in February during the leap year.

Plus the whole Sadie Hawkins thing started in a comic strip? Really?

I didn’t really get Lush’s Leap Frog Bath Ballistic. I mean, he smelled fantastic, and was made of all of my fave essential oils: jasmine, neroli, ylang ylang, sandalwood and rose. < Seriously, all of them in one place, I couldn’t believe it. He looked to be a good size, one that would keep fizzing until he melted, rather than fizzling out. LOL.

The Leap Frog’s particular thing is that he comes with a special message inside. Now, let me tell ya, there is nothing like the promise of a secret thing inside another thing to get me going. Or a prize of some sort! Lucky Dip, Cracker Jacks, piñatas — holy wow, watch me go for it.

The special, secret message, though, has to do with being a female and popping the question to the male? I have no use for such a message at this stage, but: I HAD TO KNOW WHAT WAS IN THE FROG. And if I got the special, secret message that’s supposed to help you go about proposing {???} then I would put it aside for future use. Maybe. I already been married, sistuhs, so, you know, no big deal.

BUT I HAD TO KNOW WHAT WAS IN THE FROG. I needed a bath, anyway. Are you the kind of person who needs baths? I prefer showering for cleanliness, but need baths for relaxing and unwinding. So, into the bath I went, with the Frog, who was as fizzy and fragrant as promised and although this was a scenario designed to create the relaxing and the unwinding, I was completely focused on the disintegrating Frog, waiting for the SPECIAL MESSAGE.

When it appeared, I couldn’t read it anyway because I had the candles going and I didn’t have my glasses. Did not relax or unwind much because I COULDN’T READ the special message that I HAD BEEN WAITING FOR.

<This is what I got!

Okay! I am down with this! I actually had a dream a couple weeks ago about a dude called Robert! WILL THIS SPECIAL MESSAGE COME TRUE?!?!?!

€3.50/£2.95/No sign of this in the US

Are you superstitious? Don’t go here.

*I first posted this on 23 January — what was I thinking? I was thinking, ‘Hey, I get stuff from Lush all the time, and never seem to stay caught up with reviews.’ So there I was, being all efficient, and this got buried. So here it is again, a little over a month later. Still no sign of Prince Rob, *sob*.

Where’d I Put My Serenity?

21 Feb

Just had a trawl through my post history, hoping that I had already written something that I’d forgotten publish… no such luck…

Hmmm, let’s talk about stress. Continue reading

Here’s as Sexy a Multitasker as I’ve Ever Seen!

6 Feb

I love candles generally, in everyday life — and I’ve just taken a moment to fire one up — and also consider them to be an absolute ‘must’ for when it comes to sexytimes. As you may know by now, scents are important to me, and if they are to you, as well, here’s a lovely line of lighter-uppers that serve a dual task.

Eve Taylor is an actual person, and she’s been at the forefront of aromatherapy since the late ’60s. Her products are free and clear of all those nasties that we’ve become accustomed to giving the side eye, and neither are they tested on animals. Her candles are made from 100% plant wax and pure natural essential oils, and when they melt, you can use them as a massage material.

I say ‘material’ because it’s not exactly like an oil. I mean, it’s touted as an oil, but it feels less slippery than that. And it’s not like when you get candle wax on your fingers either, you know, the way it hardens up immediately and you have to peel it off? It transfers the scent of the candle, via the wax, to the skin, and the warmth of the material makes for a really, really nice rub down.

The set pictured is the Romance trio; this post can do double duty as well, and I’ll tag it as ♥Day, but boy, am I sick of that already. The Relaxing & Indulgent candle contains orange, geranuim, ylang ylang and lavender; the Sensual & Exotic is loaded up with orange, patchouli, ylang ylang and caffir lime; the last is exactly what it says on the tin, Wild Fig & Grape. I liked this last the least, and the first the most, but there’s something here for all vibes and impulses.

Now, how do you use this without ending up in casualty? Taylor makes larger candles, into which one can dip a teaspoon. These wee ones, not so much. DON’T dip your finger in while the flame is still going. I know, common sense, right? But when you’re getting all heated up, you may forget simple fire safety in the process. You can tilt the glass and let the material run out, minding the flame, so that you don’t have to relight the thing — you can blow it out, have another one set up somewhere else, and maybe get back to relighting the first one.

What all that lacks in spontaneity it makes up for in warm, essential oily goodness. And hey, practice makes perfect!

€28/£18.39/No $ info because the American site is fairly useless.

♥Day Getaway: Brooklodge, Co Wicklow

3 Feb

Ahhhh, look! How pastoral is that? I would like to live there. Even though this is BrookLodge Hotel and Wells Spa. What am I saying? I want to live there because it is a hotel and spa. I adore a good hotel, and even better, one with a spa, so I’ll finish this post and go pack me bags!

Seriously, even though I’ve never been there, I’ve heard from pals that it is lovely, and if you’ve got a main squeeze, take a miss on the chocolate-buying and flower-giving* and chip in on one of these deals.

> Dinner, Bed & Breakfast for €120pps.
> Dinner, Bed & Breakfast with an intimate Serail Mud Bath for two for €145pps.
> Dinner, Bed & Breakfast and and an hour’s treatment each side by side in the double treatment rooms for €175pps.

The dinners take place in the Strawberry Tree Restaurant, which is Ireland’s only certified organic restaurant. All the spa water comes from the wells in the village of Macreddin, and Brooklodge was named The Georgina Campbell Hotel of the Year in 2010 and AA Hotel of the Year in 2009…

Sorry, got lost on their site, which has little videos, and then a picture of a woman riding a horse came up! and there is an equestrian centre.

Seriously, this is like my spiritual home, or something…

For reservations contact the BrookLodge Hotel at Macreddin Village, Aughrim, Co. Wicklow on 0402 36444 or visit http://www.brooklodge.com.

* Rates apply to Standard Rooms, €15 pps supplement for Superior Rooms, €30 pps supplement for Junior Suites & €50 pps supplement for the Mezzanine Suites.

Sweet Sixteen: Voya Lazy Days

12 Dec

I have always loved seaweed products. I used a powdered version for the bath {Seavite? I think so} that really required a strong drive to use, as it made a complete and utter mess of the bath after it was done. I mean, like, total ring-around-the-tub mess, and talk about a buzzkill, having to clean it up almost immediately after having sent all your tension down the drain.[Or else you have an argument with your live-in-fella-at-the-time because you let the mess go for a day or two, also a buzzkill.]

I wasn’t sure about this when I got the box. I mean, it’s a box. How’s seaweed supposed to fit in a box? I knew the Voya line very well, and have even had their seaweed baths, based in Strandhill, Co Sligo, on my to-do list almost since I moved to Ireland. I knew that the entire product line was organic, and that the seaweed itself is harvested by hand. I didn’t know that you could get it, freeze-dried into a roughly rectangular bundle.

Well, it is possible. The hunk of seaweed has been helpfully inserted into a mesh bag; there is, in addition, a wee bag of dead sea salt. <I wasn’t sure whether to captilise that or not, but Voya haven’t. Is ‘dead sea salt’ a thing that is separate now from the Dead Sea? Anyway: as instructed, I ran the bath full of hot, hot water and dropped the brick of weed in. I left the room to let it sit — I had to, because almost immediately the pure, salty scent of the seaweed began to waft around the bath. As I didn’t want to lose a layer or two of skin, which I would have done had I immersed myself, I went and did some email.

When I could bear it no longer, I went back and ran the water cold, sprinkled in some salt, and got in. Now, I love a good bath, and I go the full whack, with candles and a glass of wine, or when the circumstances demand, a short glass of Laphroaig, and appropriate musical accompaniment. Even then, I tend to get bored long before the water begins to cool. Not this time: I kept topping up the bath with as much hot water as it could handle without overflowing. I squeezed the now-football shaped net of weed to release even more of the gel that had infused the water. I was in there for almost 45 minutes.

If you take good care of it — I put mine in a large mixing bowl and covered the top with cling film — you can get another bath out of the ball. It’s not as transcendent as the first, but it is still pretty boss.

The re-hydrated bag of seaweed was pretty impressive, and also pretty: it bore no resemblance to the stuff that washes up on a beachy strand, and looked as if each… frond?… had been groomed to reveal its jagged beauty. I felt as relaxed as if I had visited the Strandhill baths themselves. This is a sublime treat for body and mind. Bonus: a cursory swipe of the bath the next morning was as hard as I had to work to clean up. In my book, there is no higher praise.

Voya Lazy Days €16/£15.50

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