With home holidays firmly on the agenda for many Irish families in 2020, here are five top-class staycation hotspots with an emphasis on family fun.
With lockdown, there were few families who didn't forge a stronger connection with, and awareness of, the natural world around us. Maintain and enhance that affinity with a Family Woodland Holiday at the Elbowroom Escape. Descend on the Wicklow wilderness, send the kids off out and about to make new friends at Forest School, where they minded and kept active, while you (and possibly your partner) hunker down for some well deserved me-time. Parents can do as they please. From hiking, to receiving a massage, to yoga classes, to simply relaxing with some nice food and a good book.
With everything included, there is simply nothing to stress over. The youngsters will get a big welcome from an experienced staff who are experts in woodland outdoor adventure. They’re also experts at building confidence while having lots of fun. The next Family Woodland Holiday begins on July 20, from €579. For further details and schedules, check out the website.
For kids, Fota Island is probably most attractive for its wildlife park, but its hotel and golf course make it an interesting, all-ages-pleasing option for families and groups of friends too.
Five-star Fota Island Resort Hotel is a modern, comfortable retreat from daily life where suites or self-catering lodges are available to book. Coming in two-, three-, and four-bedroomed varieties, lodges are the best bet for families.
Meanwhile, its East Cork hinterland is stuffed full of activity and sensory spectacle, from the aforementioned Fota Wildlife Park, to Ireland's answer to Alcatraz: Spike Island, to Titanic Experience Cobh, to Jameson Whiskey Distillery.
The East Cork food and restaurant scene is there to be savoured too, as well as the island's golf course, which is beautifully presented and masterfully designed. Two-night two-bedroom lodge stays are available from €525.
Hodson Bay Hotel, located in Athlone, nestles on the shores of the majestic Lough Ree, and takes its cue, on many levels from that versatile body of water. There is much to keep guests of all ages occupied and smiling: from a rejuvenating spa, swimming pool and leisure centre, to offsite activities such as kayaking, boating, fishing and cycling the 40km Athlone to Mullingar greenway.
The main draw, however, for water babies at least, is right next door, where the largest inflatable water park in Ireland, Baysports (baysports.ie), is set up to provide hours of activity and frolics on the lough. Hodson Bay is a busy, family-friendly hotel and offers a good standard of accommodation via its 176 bedrooms and casual dining restaurants.
The Two Night Summer Family Staycation, from €521, includes two nights accommodation with full Irish breakfast each morning and a four-course dinner on one evening of your stay.
The Big Adventure
Delphi Adventure Resort welcomes guests and their families to spacious and comfortable rooms in the stunningly scenic Leenane, in Co Galway. Isolated, in a good way, the location is perfect respite from busy civilisation. Think cacophonous birdsong, lush nature and happily patchy internet access.
Four-star Delphi is an adventure resort first and foremost, with kayaking tours across Killary Fjord available, a Zip ''n' Trek ziplining course, as well as a welcome spa – surrounded by stunning Galway scenery – where massage and thermal soaks relieve well-used muscles after a day's adventuring. The onsite 814 Bar & Restaurant provides refreshing drinks and a commendable food offering that will keep even the fussiest grub hounds as satisfied as the outdoorsy types.
There are hotel and hostel options to suit most budgets with family packages starting €416.
A satellite of the longstanding UK holiday chain, Ireland's Centre-Parcs offering in Co Longford provides families and groups with more than 160 hectares of lush woodland. There are 466 lodges and 30 apartments to choose from as well as a Subtropical Swimming Paradise (25 degrees all year round), a watersports lake, aerial adventure and ziplining zone, and a top-notch Sana Spa, all within plenty of open spaces and trails along which to build up hearty appetites.
Other than that, there is a seemingly endless list of independent and guided activities to choose from – no one gets bored here! Everything that a family might need or want is available onsite too, from an easily-accessible supermarket to barbecue kits that can be set up in dedicated spaces at the lodges. Bikes are highly recommended to get around the sprawling space and can be rented onsite or brought along for the ride. Accommodation options vary tremendously so check online for specific rates.
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