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SÁMAS Spa - Review

Park Hotel Kenmare, Ireland

by Sandy Samuels

A view of the natural surroundings from a pool
A view of the natural surroundings from a pool

As St. Patrick’s Day nears, we’re reminded of SÁMAS Spa at Park Hotel Kenmare in Kenmare, Ireland. This small, 17th-century village is County Kerry’s first Heritage Town and, like the pot o’ gold at the end of a rainbow, it’s magical. The drive from Shannon Airport passes distinctly-delightful thatched-roof cottages, deep-green rolling hillsides studded with grazing sheep and familiar place names: Limerick, Killarney, Cork and Kerry.

After settling into a room facing Kenmare Bay, walking paths, landscaped gardens and a field where a Shetland pony lazily grazes, we seek refuge in SÁMAS. This 10,000-square-foot spa would be extraordinary in the largest of resort hotels, but here it is dedicated only to guests of this 46-room, 19th century country inn and a few villa owners. SÁMAS, which is connected to the inn, uses materials indigenous to the estate—trees turned into hand-carved day beds, quarried limestone made into walls, and grasses on the roof—and was designed to blend into the landscape. The organic indoor/outdoor structure features an indoor brook and a water wall; from the covered, open-air, heated-to-body-temperature current pool we feel within a fingertip reach to the natural woodlands just a few feet away.

Park Hotel Kenmare One of the SÁMAS treatment rooms
Park Hotel Kenmare
A SÁMAS treatment room

Each of the 70 services begins with a holistic Celtic foot ritual, a cleansing in warm salt-infused water studded with rose petals followed by a rubdown with oils during which we discuss the treatment to follow. Room service even delivers spa cuisine meals to guests who can dine in the glass-walled spa reception room. Spa activities include a fitness center, yoga, Pilates and meditation in the Tigin (little house) next to the meditation garden. This scenic southwest corner of the Irish countryside is ideal for walks on mountain trails, horseback riding and cycling. Bird watching, sightseeing in old castles and monuments and driving around the 110-mile coastal route called The Ring of Kerry are alternatives; it’s dotted with sandy beaches, old-fashioned villages, archeological sites, and historic castles and monasteries.

Park Hotel Kenmare
353 64 41200

(Updated: 02/13/08 LH)

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