There are castles and then there are CASTLES.
There are spas and then there are SPAS.
Combine the best of both worlds and you have The Spa at Ashford Castle in Cong, County Mayo, Ireland.
“The Spa at Ashford Castle is dedicated to restoring beauty and balance through individual treatments and spa journeys, personalized for each of our guests by exceptionally skilled therapists,” reads the “Philosophy” as noted in the brochure. “Our commitment to wellbeing focuses on essential holistic principles, combining ancient wisdom with modern expertise.”
This sounds simple enough, but it really doesn’t tell the whole story.
The 7,534 facility just received the top award at the “2017 World Spa Awards,” winning “Ireland’s Best Hotel Spa.” Spread out over 2 levels, the spa offers guests multiple water based services, herbal massages and Seaweed Hot Stone treatments including an exclusive Irish-style Hammam body scrub. There are massages like an “Indian Head Massage,” “Reflexaology,” and “Reiki/Energy Healing,” and facials like a “Pro-Collagen Quartz Lift,” “Tri-Enzyme Resurfacing,” “Sonic Skin Radiance,” and “Visible Brilliance.” There are hand and arm rituals and therapies as well as eye treatments along with wraps, scrubs and detox programs. Of course there are the classics like manicures, pedicures and waxing, but it is the setting that makes the experience exceptional.
While so many spas are dark and moody and based in the basement (the below ground level here is reserved for the “dungeon”,) The Spa at Ashford Castle is located on the ground level and first floor of the castle. Bathed in natural light with amazing views of the breathtaking grounds and loch (lake in Gaelic – the native language spoken in the area,) the spa is inside and surrounded by the original castle walls. French architect Philippe Bonino envisioned a bronze conservatory and maintained this gothic feel throughout the spa with elements like solid burnt oak doors, cast-iron embellishments and the Ashford Castle Crest above the doors. Designed to shine a light on the guest, the color scheme throughout features gently textured walls and décor in variations of neutrals, creams, muted grays and pale taupe. Open and fresh, everything in the spa has been hand-crafted by local Irish artisans.
The therapists at The Spa at Ashford Castle wear crisp white to become part of the spa. One of the benefits of actually working at the spa are the staff accommodations (on the grounds of the castle!) and the various perks including living among incredible beauty, commissions on retail sales and gratuities. Estate activities include Falconry, equestrian activities, golf, clay shooting, archery, kayaking and boat cruising.
Overlooking breathtaking Lough Corrib and along the shore of the River Cong, Ashford Castle is a 350-acre estate is set among gardens, woodlands and mountains. The first stone for the French style chateau was set on the Ashford estate in 1228. Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness (of the famed brewing and banking family) then purchased the 350-acre estate in 1852 and added two Victorian extensions. Various members of the Guinness family retained the castle before it was turned over to Noel Huggard in 1939 who opened it as a 5-star hotel. Various owners and investors enhanced the property adding an additional wing and a golf course before Red Carnation Hotels took ownership in 2013. The spa was re-opened in 2015 after a two year, multi-million dollar restoration.
In MODERN’s view, The Spa at Ashford Castle was worth the wait and every penny and is fit for a king and queen.
IN A NUTSHELL:
Chaisteal Só-Spá (The Castle Luxury Spa - in Gaelic)
Location: Cong, County Mayo, Ireland
Square Footage: 7,534
Owners: The Tollman Family under the Red Carnation Umbrella
Designers: Phillipe Bonino, Toni Tollman, Brian Brennan
Details: 8 therapists share duties for 1,000 appointments per month
Spa Manager: Michelle Ryan
Most popular service: Ashford Castle Ritual: 5 treatments in room head to toe, starting with back/neck/shoulder massage, followed by pressure-point scalp treatment, facial cleanse and the ancient art of pressure-points reflexology on the feet.
TAKE A TOUR WITH MODERN:
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.