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SPA TOUR: Fit For A King

Alison Alhamed and Maggie Mulhern | August 6, 2018 | 8:52 AM
The steamroom at The Spa at Ashford Castle.
Photo By Photos courtesy Red Carnation Photo 1 of 9
The gym at The Spa at Ashford Castle.
Photo By Photos courtesy Red Carnation Photo 2 of 9
Just one of the lovely guest rooms in The Ashford Castle.
Photo By Photos courtesy Red Carnation Photo 3 of 9
The relaxation pool has both resistance and bubble jets, and is lit by seashell chandeliers.
Photo By Photos courtesy Red Carnation Photo 4 of 9
. The mural framing the pool, created by South African artist Jane du Rand, is called The Tree of Life and depicts Irish Celtic mythology with aspects of flora and fauna. “The Tree of Life, with oak tree, gives life,” says Spa Manager Michelle Ryan. “The spa is all about wellness and improving life, improving living.”
Photo By Photos courtesy Red Carnation Photo 5 of 9
The reception area at The Spa at Ashford Castle.
Photo By Photos courtesy Red Carnation Photo 6 of 9
The Ashford Castle in Cong, County Mayo, Ireland.
Photo By Photos courtesy Red Carnation Photo 7 of 9
Bathed in natural light with amazing views of the breathtaking grounds, the two-level spa is surrounded by the original castle walls. The designers maintained the old-world feel throughout the spa with elements such as solid burnt oak doors, bronze details, cast-iron embellishments and the Ashford Castle Crest.
Photo By Photos courtesy Red Carnation Photo 8 of 9
The Signature “Be Together Experience” is designed for couples who want to share the experience. Rose quartz crystals are used for the treatments and services. The blinds can be left down or opened to offer magnificent views.
Photo By Photos courtesy Red Carnation Photo 9 of 9

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, The 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.

Spa at Ashford Castle:

Location: Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

Owners: The Tollman Family, Red Carnation Umbrella

Square footage: 7,600

Designers: Phillipe Bonino, Toni Tollman, Brian Brennan

Team: 8 therapists share duties for 1,000 appointments per month

Spa Manager: Michelle Ryan

Most popular service: Ashford Castle Ritual includes five head-to-toe treatments starting with back/neck/shoulder massage, a pressure-point scalp treatment, facial cleanse and pressure-points reflexology on the feet.

Photos courtesy Red Carnation

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