“Good luck with Ireland’s weather'” said bunch of British friends after dinner at Pax in Dubai as we hugged each other goodbye to end the night. “Sure will be alright'” I replied.
A week spent at one of the most beautiful place on Ireland in County Wicklow has been one of the best rejuvenating break SOTG ever had. The green countryside and open landscape given me a profound impact even in winter. Whenever drizzles over, the sun came back shining among the clouds and the rainbow appeared crowning the blue sky. The green illuminates the best shades of green colour like on the flag of Ireland and the air smells so fresh.
Arrived in early morning from the airport straight to the hotel by 9 am, I was awe-inspired by the green valleys as our chauffeur drove along the The Avenue. Later as he turned left into massive hotel compound, I was impressed by the grandeur of the crescent shaped 7th storeys Palladian building (influenced by the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio). Greeted well a the reception and welcomed by a big hall with high ceiling, comfy sofas and fresh flowers, I entered a stunning Georgian interiors hall. The room ready immediately which means the earliest checked-in among all accommodation SOTG ever walk into. The concierge explained about the hotel facilities and as he took the luggage into the room, he explained the function of amazing convenience piece of technology – the touch screen pad to adjust light and control temperature using fingernail. ‘Not quite work with finger tip’ he said.
This is not an ordinary hotel because it is situated on an estate of 1,000 acres that comes with wonderful history. The hotel building used to be a castle in 13th century owned by a name called La Poer (showing French heritage) which was eventually coverted to English to ‘Power’ – origin of estate name. In 18th century, a German architects extensively altered the building and have been under Wingfield family (with Viscount title) for generations until later sold to Slazenger family (that famous sport brand) in 1961. Fire destroyed the building in 1974 which brought to a renovation in 1996. While Slazenger family still maintains the custodian of estate, the hotel is being owned and managed separately. It has undergone changed of hotel brand from Ritz Carlton to Marriott chain under an independent Autograph Collection representing luxury and lifestyle hotel.
Spacious and Space
There are 194 rooms in the resort yet because of its spaciousness there is no sense of crowded feeling. The room size was half of my apartment size of average 700 square feet decorated eloquently with quality soft furnishings and antique furnitures. SOTG’s Courtyard View Suite came with 6 compartment and dividing areas: a wardrobe room with cabinets and built-in, a king-size bedroom with tv, a sitting area with tv, sofas and study desk, a room with a bathtub and 2 separate vanities with recessed tv, a rainforest shower with mirror built in the wall (love this detail), and a separate WC with black and white elegant wallpaper.
Just a short walk from the resort is a 47 acres landscaped garden result from laboured of love that took 20 years to complete inspired by gardens at the Palace of Versailles in France, Schönbrunn Palace near Vienna, and Schwetzingen Castle near Heidelberg. In 2014, the garden voted No. 3 in the World’s Top 10 Gardens by National Geographic. Appreciative of the effort by several Viscounts collecting rares plants and magnificent statues, the weather had not enticed SOTG to visit the garden that house Italian garden, Japanese garden, Pepper Pot Tower, and Pet Cemetery among others.
From Fine Dining To Cafe
There are 3 options in the resort: 1. Sika Restaurant (once a Gordon Ramsay restaurant under previous hotel chain) named after Japanese deer introduced in the estate in 1860 – for dining and gourmet experience see review here. 2.The Sugar Loaf Lounge – for Afternoon tea or light meal famous among local.3. McGills for pint of drink in traditional Irish pub.
For guest, the 24 hours in room dining is just convenient as SOTG made used of this facility during duration of stay. The menu highlights all types of dietary requirements and being clearly labelled for a very extensive list: Celery, Cereals containing gluten, Crustaceans, Eggs, Fish, Lupin, Milk, Molluscs, Mustard, Nuts, Peanuts, Sesame Seeds, Soya, and Sulphites. The team of chefs can accommodate any types of guests needs. SOTG’s orders were fresh and hot from the kitchen – delicious except for a slight burnt tortilla chips and very spicy curry prawn. Other options are at Powerscourt Golf Club Restaurant and Avoca Terrace Café which SOTG enjoyed its homemade healthy food over view of the Garden (not bad at EUR 6.90 for baked salmon with 3 choices of salad).
Shops and Café
The concierge recommended to visit the nearby stores (where the Garden situated) and she said the price is cheaper than the city – if shopping is what on agenda.Thanks to the complimentary bicycle (love the leather handlebar and saddle), a trip to the stores made in minutes despite blowing wind. This is where SOTG spent time relaxing and window shopping in Avoca Stores browsing collection of books and gourmet produced. Avoca being the oldest surviving business was originally started as woollen mill and handweaving manufacturer. In the store, displayed the 1740 Fly Shuttle Loom – the most efficient method of handweaving till today.The Garden Pavillion just next to it is a great stop for home or garden gift.
This hidden gem of 5 km along the banks of Dargle river within the Estate is one of Ireland’s charming and secluded place to run, walk and explore. Supplied with access code that apparently changes daily – only select few can enjoy its leafy charm. Scent of woods and conifers lingered in the ancient woodland. I ran along the river in spirit as high as the Wicklow Mountain. Mission was to look for the tallest tree in Ireland – Douglas Fir at 61.5 metres which discovered 3 years ago. I hunted based on direction given by the concierge, but with no signpost it proved to be a hard task. There are many secrets woodland trails that I could easily do many hours of trail run.
Recalibrate Body, Mind and Soul was the peak of all SOTG’s experience. Here are why:
- Excellent natural skincare products by Espa, a UK brand (tried and tested the Advance Skin Radiance facial) and being taken care greatly by outstanding service. I enjoyed every steps of the facial – a noteworthy is cold crystal applied on my skin to stimulate blood flow from changes in temperature. Access to calm Serenity Room and Thermal Suites (ladies only) with any booked treatment were added bonuses and can be utilised till 8pm. There is Espa Café that serves health oriented breakfast and lunch during spa retreat.
- Relaxed under dim Swarovski crystal lights by 20 metre indoor pool, state-of-the-art steam room and jacuzzi facilities.
- The Fitness Suite is a good size bathed in morning light – can’t complain running 16km on leading edge treadmill by Technogym with superb view of Sugar Loaf’s pyramid.
- Good range of classes offered such as yoga, body combat, spin class and circuit training. The yoga instructor seems to be popular as her class fulled on Saturday morning – would sign-up if leave close by. She taught and commanded beautiful energy mantra and chakra.The spin class ended with a generous time for stretching.
Other Activities Around Estate
Countless other ways to explore picturesque surrounding such as waterfall (highest in Ireland), golf, hiking, horse-riding and cycling (map provided which was very handy or avail cycling concierge facility). Foodie lovers can take opportunity to visit Ballyknocken House – home to one of Ireland’s best-known chefs, Catherine Fulvio. Visit to Enniskerry, the former estate village can be organised as complimentary at any time.
Worth Five Stars? Exactly Like Nothing Else?
Seven beautiful sleeps on a king size featherbed ended very quickly even with slotting some training for next 100km race – this is a perfect location where I’ve created my world. It is not just for fitness enthusiast or for relaxation but for special occasion too like wedding or anniversary celebration. In fact, there was a wedding took place during SOTG stay.
No major unpleasant experience although there were very minor details and incidents. Like when male staff accidentally entered the changing room and Thermal Suites. Another one when a WC could not be flushed during spa visit. Wooden stirrer stick maybe green to environment but would rather have actual spoon. No extra blanket in room so got to request separately. Courtyard View Suite came with carpark and bike-rack view mostly – the best side of hotel is the back facing Sugar Loaf Mountain. Despite of these, in overall fairness and honesty – a very satisfying and pleasant stay that is nurturing and nourishing body, mind and soul in a perfect unique surrounding and quality hotel ambiance. Level of service has been above average of excellence and very friendly staff indeed – as expected for a resort style yet not too formal. Since many movies and tv series being shot on the estate, surely a stunning location to visit. Furthermore, Princess Grace of Monaco danced in the ballroom – so you must want to see this iconic hotel.
Two days later were spent in Dublin city soaking the architecture, history, farmer’s market visit and a bit of shopping – brilliant to get some doze of city life which is only 25 minutes drive from Powerscourt Hotel. Here are some pictures to prove a point there are more to Ireland than a resort pampering.
One of friendliest country in the world, Ireland is surely one not to be missed. It was hard to say goodbye to a country that treasures many breathtaking landscapes. There are many to tick off the list such as hiking the Wicklow mountain, be where Gerry met Holly (in P.S. I Love You movie, visit Dún Aengus on Aran island (that last scene of Leap Year movie), and climb the stairs of Skellig Michael (the pivotal final scene in Star Wars: The Star Awaken movie).
Nevertheless, was a very inspiring break and happy to be in the Ireland especially when accompanied by Moire O’ Sullivan’s Mud, Sweat and Tears book on her trail-running on Wicklow Round in less than 24 hours.
So Ireland in winter is not too bad at all, even better when the Six Nations is on as the city and nation was very much on a high spirit. Or perhaps return for 2016 North Ireland Year of Food and Drink?
Flew with Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Dublin (a 8 hours 40 minutes flight) and as Business Class guests received a luxury door-to-door limousine service.
Constantly checking the weather is a must in order to make best time of stay and plan activities because Irish weather is unpredictable (during stay between 5 to 9 degrees Celcius). I was told by local the best time to visit is May during summer to explore more outdoors around the estate and city.Though all things considered, spring and fall in between bad and good, where you get lower-than-high-season prices and the crowds have yet to descend.
Tempt to book at Powerscourt? Have you been to Ireland? If so, what are must visit sites.
Beannacht libh go bhfeicfidh mé arís thú. Till we meet again in Gaelic.