Eight great getaways for the girls

Monart is Enniscorthy's five-star destination spa has all sorts of girlie getaways.

Planning a hen weekend or girlie getaway with a difference? Pól Ó Conghaile has a pamper-tastic selection of weekend breaks at every price point.

Girls only at The Gibson

“More and more it seems that groups of girls are deciding to ditch their partners when they go out to socialise,” say the good folk at Dublin’s Gibson Hotel. Consequently, they’ve put together a rather cheekily titled ‘No Boys Allowed’ package.

What’s included? Well, no boys for starters. After that, you get B&B, dinner, a glass of Prosecco on arrival and two hours’ exclusive use of the hotel’s relaxation area. It costs €99pp for a hen and up to 10 of her best friends… and Dublin is on your doorstep too.

“Women are increasingly enquiring about packages that mean they don’t need to leave the hotel,” we’re told. “They want a 24 hour pass from their housework/husbands/kids.”

Details: 01 681-5000; thegibsonhotel.ie.

Limerick, you’re a lady

Got your knickers in a twist? Talk to Katherine Dalton of Limerick’s Crafty Koop. She leads group sessions transforming normal knickers into glamorously pimped-up pants… using Swarovski crystals, applique motifs and other trimmings.

All materials are provided — bar the undies — from €20pp, depending on numbers.

Dalton’s is just one of several activities you can book through The Strand Hotel, which has heaps of girlie getaways on offer. One night’s B&B including a two-course dinner, cocktail on arrival, nightclub entrance and 10% discounts of the hotel’s hairdresser and spa treatments, for example, starts from just €79pps. There’s a pool and gym, too.

Details: 061-421800; strandhotellimerick.ie; craftykoop.com.

Take a breather in Ballyhoura

Think Ballyhoura and mountain bikes come to mind, but there’s far more to the nooks and crannies of North Cork than bone-rattling adventure trails.

Jacqueline Mary O’Farrell and her team of therapists at Grove Health Spa can tailor any package to suit any group of ladies, they say — starting from just €140pp (including an overnight stay). Facials, massages and holistic therapies like Reiki and reflexology are all options, and you can finish off a day of relaxation with a glass of wine around the solid-fuel stove.

Details: 022-25518; grovehealthspa.com.

Monart: The mother of spa breaks

By now, Monart is a brand unto itself. Merely whisper the word, and you’ll get ladies (and gents) all over the country noticing fresh pangs in need of a pamper.

Enniscorthy’s five-star destination spa has all sorts of girlie getaways, but if you’ve got a budding Bridezilla on your hands, you may want to ramp things up with the ‘Bridal Zen’ package.

It offers two nights’ B&B, one dinner, one lunch, full use of the thermal spa and a selection of treatments including a Voya Massage and a choice of a Dry flotation Green Coffee Wrap or a Pevonia Aroma Therapy Salt Glow, from €499pp.

Details: 053-9238999; monart.ie.

Thumbs up in Tipperary

Want all the fun of a girls’ weekend away, with none of the planning?

We thought so. Relax Ireland could be your meal ticket — a self-catering accommodation provider selling itself based on a personal service and local knowledge. In Tipperary, it suggests the lodges at Nenagh’s Abbey Court Hotel — centrally located as they are for friends travelling from Limerick, Dublin, Cork and Galway. Priced at €99pp, the package includes overnight accommodation with breakfast in the hotel, a cocktail on arrival, back massage or mini-facial and a four-course dinner.

If you fancy throwing in some activities, Relax Ireland can organise that. Horse riding, cycling, sailing on Lough Derg and paintballing are all available.

Details: 053-9175481; relaxireland.com.

Galway: Twelve Days of Christmas

Galway is a stonking great city for a weekend break — no matter what the excuse — and the Twelve Hotel always brings its A-game to group bookings.

Right now, the Bearna bolthole is surfing a wave of X Factor fever with a ‘Song Birds’ package designed specially for girls who think they can sing (ie you). For groups of 12 girls or more, the package includes two nights B&B, dinner and — get this — a recording session in a pro studio, with each budding Nicole or Sharon getting their own CD to take home.

The Song Birds package costs €169pp, with a cocktail lesson thrown in to boot. Best of all, if you book as a hen weekend, the bride-to-be gets a free upgrade to a suite.

Details: 091-597000; thetwelvehotel.ie.

West Cork: Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend

Planning a break from planning your wedding? Inchydoney Island Lodge & Spa has a ‘Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend’ package including a Diamond Body Ritual, lunch or afternoon tea in the lounge, dinner at the Gulfstream restaurant and B&B in an ocean view room with private balcony. It costs from €245pps.

Details: 023-8833143; inchydoneyisland.com

Make a date in Meath

Meath isn’t all about ancient heritage, you know. Betwixt all those castles, passage tombs and monastic ruins you’ll find some kooky hen packages too.

In Kells, skip the high crosses for the Headfort Arms Hotel, where a two-for-one offer is available until Mar 31 of next year. The two-night package includes B&B, dinner, a glass of wine on arrival, a VIP area in the VIBE nightclub and late checkout from €159pps.

For no extra cost, you can choose from several zany activities, including farmyard antics at Causey Farm, a wagon ride in the country with Buck Mooney’s Wild West, a cocktail master class or a Pamper Princess spa package (with a €20pp supplement).

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Meath, Dunboyne Castle Hotel has Saturday nights including afternoon tea, dinner, admission to the Chasers club and complimentary access to its three-floor Seoid Spa from €135pps. There’s a slap-up breakfast before departure, too.

Details: headfortarms.ie; dunboynecastlehotel.com.

TRAVEL DIGEST by Barry Coughlan

TRAVEL IN STYLE WITH BRITISH AIRWAYS

British Airways is giving passengers from Ireland the chance to travel in style with huge reductions in their premium cabins to many long haul destinations. The sale continues until Tuesday, availability is for return journeys from Dublin, Cork or Shannon. Bookings can be made through any travel agent or on www.ba.com

HAPPY MEALS WITH STENA

Stena Line has cut on board food prices on certain sailings to £5 on a selection of dishes following increased competition throughout the industry. Kids meals have been slashed to £2.50. For information go to www.stenaline.ie

NEW RESORT AND SPA IN PHUKET

The luxury Anantara group is to expand with the opening of the Phuket Layan Resort and Spa in Thailand, set to open in January. The resort is well away from the hustle and bustle of the island’s busy resorts and it boasts 47 suites and villas. Details on www.anantara.com.

IN THE MARKET FOR CHRISTMAS BREAK?

Christmas markets in Ireland, once the preserve of Eastern or other European cities, have become the norm but there are those who will still wish to travel overseas to experience something different. Thomas Cook has a variety of short break deals starting from €270 ex-Dublin to Copenhagen, Brussels or Berlin.

POZNAN COMES HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

I couldn’t recommend more highly enough a visit to Poznan, the wondrously tasty Polish city whose people so generously hosted many thousands of Irish football supporters during the last European Championships. Well, Ireland will be there again this month (Nov 19). Check out www.poznan.pl.


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