If you’re looking for something fun to do this weekend, Ireland’s first and only hot tub boat is exactly the ticket.
“It’s a bit different but it’s definitely such a fun experience!”; that was the sell from PR Teresa Lenane when she emailed me about Ireland’s first floating hot tub earlier this summer. Not that I needed much convincing to try it, mind you… I may be an air sign, but boy do I love the water.
“It’s located in Athlone with four different pick-up points, it can accommodate six passengers (prices start from €180) and the cruises are between 75 and 90-minutes long. It also has a built-in sound system and it’s BYOB.” Sold.
Piling into the car, my four siblings in tow, we programmed Coosan Point Road into Google Maps and set off from Longford. All five of us being together at one time was a novelty in itself, but things certainly kicked up a gear when we got to the jetty and the real fun began.
Shane McCormack, an RNLI volunteer with over 15 years experience in the industry (and the brains behind the operation) met us there, welcoming us onto afterglow (a.k.a. the hot tub boat) by first ushering us across a kindly German couple’s dingy.
In case the name didn’t tip you off, the hot tub boat is exactly that; a 33-foot boat, with a specially-fitted hot tub fixed atop it. The water is heated to 37°C and the tub can accommodate up to six people. The idea, Shane tells me, was inspired by the hot tubs often found on super yachts.
Already in our swimsuits, we drop our belongings into the private changing room below deck before joining Shane for the big reveal. A black covering is pulled back to unveil a bubbling pool of water and my siblings waste no time in jumping straight in. Music duty falls to my brother – our greatest mistake – who soundtracks our outing with a questionable mix of Garth Brooks, Bruno Mars and Tupac. One safety talk later and we’re ready for off.
As previously mentioned, Shane has been working on the River Shannon for close to two decades now, though this is still a relatively new venture. But it’s not summer-dependent as you might think… in fact the hot tub boat is only just heating up (no pun intended).
Surprisingly, winter is his preferred time to bring guests out on Lough Ree and he’s even hoping for snow this year. Crisp sunsets, mulled wine, seeing your breath hang before you on the cold, frosty air; those are a few of his favourite things. Wind is the only real concern, so once you’re under the boat’s shelter and in the heated water, nothing else matters.
Guiding us expertly around the wild waters of Lough Ree, 75-minutes hardly felt long enough and each of us agreed that we’d do it again. “One woman has come back three times so far this year,” Shane laughs. “I must be doing something right.”
Intrigued? I don’t blame you and having tried the hot tub boat myself, I can assure you it’s more than worth it.
Guests must be 16 years or older (under 18s must be accompanied by an adult), and need only bring a towel, togs and some libations (alcoholic or otherwise). Prices start at €180 based on six people sharing.