THERE aren’t many holidays in Ireland that a nine-year-old would rate as the best in the world.
But there aren’t many destinations out there like Dromquinna.
We were apprehensive, to say the least, about heading off on a glamping holiday with three kids — nine, three and just one — in tow, especially in an often unpredictable Irish summer. Oh and did I mention I was pregnant, and in my last trimester?
People looked at us incredulously — camping in Ireland, pregnant and with small kids?
But with John Brennan at the helm — one half of the dynamic duo behind the stunning Park Hotel in Kenmare and RTE’s At Your Service — we knew this would be no ordinary camping holiday.
And it wasn’t.
Walking onto the lush green grass, emerging onto a breathtaking view of the lake, we were left speechless.
A mix of family and couples tents are perfectly positioned, far enough apart to give privacy yet sufficiently close to give a communal feel.
Our family tent had a main living area and two bedrooms. We had lights, but no sockets; a fire hazard we were told — but what a bonus. iPad and phone use were kept to a minimum to save power (both could be charged at reception) so it meant there was few distractions. This was pure family time — no TVs, no Netflix. Just fields of grass, stunning views and time together.
It proved to be a precious three days.
The one-year-old, who recently found her feet, was in her element roaming the grass outside the tent, and next door in the adjoining (and stunning) manor. And we had the time to just sit and watch.
There were no sleeping bags either — instead we had mattresses, among the cosiest I have ever slept on — on wooden logs. However John Brennan has done it, this is five-star luxury. In a tent.
The toilets were immaculate, the kitchen was well stocked with cooking equipment and there was plenty of room in the fridge to store our supplies — everything we needed for our nightly BBQs. We loved the little added extras — a little camp fire was lit every evening before the staff left at 6.30pm for the kids to melt marshmallows.
The self-catering option really keeps costs down too; on hotel breaks, even ones that include dinner and breakfast, those lunches can add up.
The often claustrophobic feel of a family hotel room is never an issue here either. Our evenings were spent playing board games with the nine-year-old after the babies were in bed. And when she nodded off we could sit on the deck with a glass of wine and savour the view. One word of advice though — bring repellent.
Breakfast was one of the biggest treats at Dromquinna — croissants, juice and coffee were delivered to our tents each morning in a wicker basket. It was perfection, there is no other word.
On our last evening we ate at the sensational Boathouse restaurant. Right on the water, and with a menu choice to suit all budgets, we were lucky enough to be there on an evening where we could really soak up the view and sit outside. Though every one of our three days in Dromquinna were blue skies.
We had a few excursions: an afternoon in the beautiful Kenmare; horse riding at the neighbouring Dromquinna stables (just €15 for my nine-year-old for a 30 minute ride); a little boat cruise at Star Outdoors outside the town. We passed by their outdoor activity centre and had to promise the eldest we would return for kayaking and inflatable slides next year.
It’s a promise we will keep. It was the best holiday our children have ever had. And mum and dad felt exactly the same way.
* Overnight accommodation in custom-made luxury tents includes all linen and towels, and a welcome pack of toiletries. Shared use of guest kitchen and BBQ areas, plus washing facilities and toilets, are located a short walk through the woods from the tents.
* A hamper of fresh coffee and croissants are delivered to your tent each morning on the deck; €150 for two adults, €165 for two adults and two children.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved