Caroline Delaney says coastal Westport is perfect for activities such as cycling, kayaking and hiking, and resting too, just before winter sets in.
EVEN its name sounds like a holiday, and while Westport has been voted one of the best places to live in Ireland, it’s also great for a quick break.
Westport is close to gorgeous coastline, but is not just a bucket-and-spade kinda town. There’s plenty to do here on a crisp, autumn day, on a weekend away before winter bites.
Westport is building its credentials as an adventure-and-activity holiday destination — with cycling, hiking, kayaking and sea-angling on offer.
Next up on the activity calendar is the Westport Sea2Summit (www.westportsea2summit.ie ) on Saturday, November 14.
This challenge begins at the Westport Plaza and Castlecourt Hotel Resort, right in the centre of Westport. This Westport Hotel Group has recently taken on the 4 Star Westport Coast, which overlooks the harbour and Clew Bay, so you’ve plenty of choice for water sports.
The hotel is charming and welcoming, rather than over-the-top opulent. But it’s all about looking outwards towards Clew Bay. With Croagh Patrick silhouetted in the distance, who cares about fancy light fittings! There’s a gastro-pub and safe playground across the road, and you’d be hoping for drizzle, so you’ve an excuse to poke around cute shops a few doors away. The hotel has the Coast Café Bar on the ground floor, which makes a handy spot for lunch. Upstairs, there’s the Waterfront Restaurant, which serves dinner and breakfast. In between, there’s a pool and spa. Outside, you can hit that Greenway without too much bother — there’s an access 400 metres away.
You’ll need supporters when you nail that Sea 2 Summit, so book a family room and bring the children. We got connecting rooms, which both featured a double and a single bed. Perfect for when some folk like to have the lights on and others like them off. Crisp bed linen, nice, complimentary toiletries — we expect those in most hotels now, so it’s the little things, like fluffy, white kid-sized robes, colouring books and hot chocolate in the rooms that make the difference.
Distract the darlings with the crayons, while you tuck into the box of handmade chocolates and kilner-jar of homemade cookies.
Just make sure you do an activity or sport to earn all those calories you’re going to clock up. When food’s this tasty, you don’t want to let guilt cloud your enjoyment.
A good effort has been put into finding local ingredients that create tasty dishes. For dinner, I opted for a creamy, mixed, fresh mushroom risotto, which was the right blend of comfort and elegance. But steak, pork and fish — all with interesting twists — also feature on the menu. Be sure to check out the quirky peanut butter and chilli icecream, too.
Unless you dine before it gets dark, you might miss out on the spectacular views from the Westport Coast’s top-floor Waterfront Restaurant — so next morning get up early enough to linger over breakfast and take in that luscious scenery.
If you’re staying around for a few days, then you’ll keep discovering more and more meal and snack options — whether it’s gastro-pub or panini café or icecream shop. You’re on a break away, so enjoy it — there’s plenty time later for Operation Transformation.
No matter how in tune with your bicycle you are, or how many miles you run before breakfast, it’s nice to be spoiled every so often. An Ayurveda treatment should do the trick.
A great range of Ayurvedic massages or facials is available — ideal if you’ve been weather-beaten on Croagh Patrick, or if you deserve a treat for coming along to cheer on the athlete in your life.
The woman doing my treatment was friendly, without being overbearingly chatty, and took her time to make a few helpful recommendations. A sauna and steam room, in the pool area, could definitely help to while away a few hours at the end of any treatment.
WHAT TO DO
Westport is gorgeous in the summer — in that ‘stick-of-peppermint-rock, 99’, relaxed sort of way.
But adventure sports and activities are the big draw all year round. The Westport Sea2Summit adventure race involves a mix of road running, cycling and a mountain hike.
And if that sounds too easy, then don’t forget the adventure obstacle course at the end, along with a 100m dash across a shoreline through two-feet deep water. There are actually two separate races — one for participants who haven’t taken part in adventure racing before, and the other for experienced runners and climbers who fancy a bit of a challenge.
Both of these races have three categories (advanced, intermediate and beginner), so there should be no excuses if you’re part of a couple, or gang of friends, with differing abilities.
This event is organised by the Westport Plaza and Castlecourt Hotel Resort, under the guidance of race director, Paul O’Brien, of Boot Camp West.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Westport Coast Hotel have an offer at the moment of 1 night B&B for €40 in total for 2 people plus a free bottle of wine .Limited availability on selected midweek dates from November to February. 098-55088.
ANYTHING TO ADD
The Westport Coast Hotel is a small distance outside the town, so it’s worth checking for the free shuttle bus.
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