Cashel Palace Hotel has a gleaming new spa – and a renowned Dublin facialist in residence each month. So is it worth splashing out on? …
Some luxury spas are not worth the travel time. If you’re treating yourself to some full-scale relaxation, perhaps with your mum or a friend, you definitely want more than a basic pool – just like a golfer expects a whole course, so does a spa-lover. If a hotel is promising a luxurious spa experience, we want something rather special – don’t fob us off with a mini sauna or manky hot-tub.
So news of a brand-new, no-expense-spared, state-of-the-art spa opening is exciting for anyone who takes spas seriously. The Spa at Cashel Palace Hotel opened in March. Many of us want a treat – perhaps instead of going abroad – and to put ourselves in expert hands after a long few years of “self-care”. And what made me especially excited about Cashel’s new spa is their exclusive SKIN by Olga residency – renowned expert Olga Kochlewska will be here for two days a month for the rest of the year, treating residents to her signature facials.
Olga’s Donnybrook salon was the first to introduce Swiss specialists Valmont to Ireland. And Cashel Palace is now the first Irish spa offering its treatments. Valmont’s packaging is ordinary enough, but the products are rather special. I know that Olga is very selective about the skincare she champions – she recently took on German brand Auteur, which is very beautiful and effective, especially the gentle bamboo cleanser – and Valmont is no exception. Expect gently floral fragrances and luxurious textures.
THE EXPERT FACIAL
I’ve written about Olga’s facials before, because I genuinely rate them – she is one of the best facialists in Ireland, with more than 20 years of experience. She continues to train in Paris and the US so she’s at the cutting-edge of skincare, and for me she is one of those experts who can really get the very best out of your skin. Yes, her facials are more expensive than ones you might have tried; but if you’re not spending on injectables etc, I firmly believe it’s worth investing in excellent facials like hers. The facial will involve Olga’s unique combination of technology – including a non-invasive multi-current lifting machine – and specialised skincare, depending on what your own skin needs.
It is all about a natural facelift, using a combination of massage, intensive masks and Olga’s face-sculpting technique (she works almost like a sculptor, moulding and firming your face – you will never see your cheekbones look more pronounced). And you’ll leave with brigher, tighter skin; I didn’t wear make-up for days afterwards, just enjoying the glow.
It’s a pleasure to hang out in a spa when it’s this immaculate and gleaming new. And I loved this peaceful, bright space with so much natural light; it feels beautifully modern without being in any way stark or clinical. The latte and cream colourscheme includes the elegant gowns through to the sleek changing rooms (unisex, by the way). It’s all very chic and restful; there was nothing I didn’t like about it. The warm, dynamic spa and wellness director, Tania De Courcey, has golfed for Ireland, and is trained in sports rehab. She is keen that the spa offers a broad range of products, so as well as premium Valmont, there’s a full range of Bamford, the posh English line that is hard to get here: I recommend the divine Night oil with lavender and chamomile. Take some home as surefire-hit gifts.
The pool is very beautiful, lined in navy tiles, and long enough for a decent swim. The temperature is meticulously monitored to the perfect level: it might feel cooler than you expect, and is all the better for it, with none of that chloriney smoggy heat fog. Swim out through the gap to the outside part of the pool, where you can float around looking over the fabulous riot of poppies in the immaculate garden, and up to the Rock of Cashel itself – it’s hard to imagine a pool with a lovelier view. Then soak up the gorgeous heat of the steam, sauna and spa pool, and try the fancy showers, complete with tropical birdsong.
I admire the way the hotel is bringing in experts to enhance the luxury offering; the hair salon is the domain of local expert Mary Quinlan (blowdries from €35). There are plenty of other treatments available, from outdoor seaweed or mud baths (from €40) to Bamford facials (from €125, 60 minutes). Ask about yoga classes – there are regular sessions, taking place in the garden when the weather permits. There’s a very smart gym, also overlooking the exquisite garden.
The Spa’s aesthetic continues the hotel’s overall vibe of smart yet unflashy luxury – my bedroom had a Cire Trudon diffuser, no less – but minus the horse theme; the hotel is owned by the horse-racing Magnier family, and there are equine references everywhere, from paintings to coffee table books about Lester Pigott. The garden is a real highpoint, and its sunny terrace is perfect for afternoon tea.
Your hotel bathroom also offers treats. It’s great to see the lack of mini plastic bottles everywhere – instead you get to use lavish bottles by the wonderful Memo Paris, co-founded by Tipperary-born John Molloy (though they feel too extravagant to be bold enough to take home with you, as you would smaller bottles). Memo’s Irish Leather is the perfect choice for this hotel, inspired as it is by green fields and the leather of saddles. Molloy’s family also make the Crossogue preserves for the breakfast table. I love, too, the lack of capsule coffee in the room – instead you get actual coffee (by Ponaire, a roastery in Tipperary), in a scientific-looking Melitta filter machine.
All in all, a restoring mini holiday that feels very restorative for just one night and (if you’re in Dublin) just a couple of hours’ travel. And what a treat to be in such expert hands.
Treat yourself to some Valmont 24H Body Cream – it is so cloud-like and softly fragrant. Crossogue Strawberry & Champagne Jam makes a lovely souvenir. And resolve to invest in a bottle of Memo Paris Irish Leather, one of their many astonishing eau de parfums.
The SKIN By Olga Spa Stay at Cashel Palace includes Bed & Breakfast in a Garden Wing Superior for one adult and one two-hour Treatment with Olga, from €785. The bedroom occupancy may be increased to include a second guest (twin/double) at a supplement of €20 per night.
SKIN By Olga Residency Dates: Mon & Tue July 11 & 12; August 22 & 23; September 12 & 13; October 10 & 11; November 14 & 15; December 12 & 13
Book by emailing [email protected] or phone 01 626 2002.
Cashel Palace Hotel, Main Street, Cashel, Co Tiperrary, www.cashelpalacehotel.ie.