This New Naturist Travel Experience on Inis Meáin is Top of Our Wishlist

This New Naturist Travel Experience is Top of Our Wishlist

Curated to enhance guests’ appreciation of this remote off-shore Aran island, here’s all you need to know about the new Inis Meáin Island Stays …

Marie-Thérèse and Ruairí de Blacam’s Michelin green-starred restaurant and guest house on Inis Meáin has gained almost mythical status. A multi award-winning enterprise, the suites have consistently booked out nearly a year ahead with return guests.

After 15 successful years, the duo has embarked on a new chapter by developing the hospitality offering further, leaving the restaurant behind and creating the new Inis Meáin Island Stays. These stays will place an emphasis on slow travel and environmental preservation.

“Inis Meáin Island Stays, with our 70-acre island farm estate and ecology guide, will enable our guests to delve deeper into understanding this special place, giving off-road access and bespoke ecologist notes on what to look out for, in each part of the farm, during each season,” explains Marie-Thérèse.

“With Inis Meáin Island Stays our guests are investing more of their time and understanding into a unique natural destination, giving them a deeper sense of relaxation and well-being, and helping to avoid a constant stream of travellers coming and going which can upset the local balance of nature and community.”

Guests have a 70-acre working farm of Burren landscape to explore, with its small herd of breeding cattle, native Irish bees, hens, vegetable garden, and biodiversity preservation.

“The farm land stretches like a broken chain for 5km through the whole length of the island,” says Marie-Thérèse. From seaweed rights, coastal birds and otter-nesting at the north-coast, to the reed lake, the old farmstead, through land on which the large pre-Christian fort – Dún Chonchúr was constructed, and finally to winterage fields which run to the storm beaches on the south coast.

All of the farm terrain features an abundance of wild flowers, particularly the rare Burren flowers, for much of the year. The whole farm, like the rest of the island, contains fossilised limestone formations and endless dry stone walls in varied patterns. The Ecology Study of the Farm will guide guests within this abundantly rich landscape of nature, archaeology, history and culture.

More accommodation has also been added. The original iconic, curved, stone-faced building is now called the Stone House. It is available for exclusive-use, sleeping groups of up to eight guests in four Studio Suites, with a large separate spacious apartment for the group to meet, dine and relax together.

This conviviality is matched by comfort. Soft furnishings – in silk, cashmere, alpaca and merino wool – are tactile and luxurious, while toiletries are provided by Burren Perfumery and Aveda. Guests will also find a range of equipment to ensure that they maximise the surroundings and natural amenities including binoculars, tow floats, swimming guides, wet suits, walking sticks, yoga mats, thermos flasks and beach towels.

In addition, there’s a new, beautifully renovated Boat House, also available for exclusive use, sleeping groups of up to four guests in two ensuite bedrooms. It features spacious open-plan living quarters with a large picture frame window to the west. The Boat House is where the traditional island boats or currachs were made and repaired until recent years, and this important heritage has been part of its renovation design.

Both the Stone House and the Boat House, although on separate private grounds, are located in the centre of the island, within easy walk to all amenities, with expansive views of the island and Galway Bay.

“To enhance Island Stays, a delicious Island Dinner is available for delivery to the houses every day, along with a large selection of special wines, freshly baked bread and harvest boxes of our farm produce,” explains Ruairí.

Undoubtedly, elemental beauty and personal space are two of the benefits of these stays. Indeed, Inis Meáin has attracted artists and been the inspiration for many well-known works including JM Synge’s The Aran Islands and Martin McDonogh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan.

“If not inspiring a great work, an island stay at least brings a sense of calm and calibration,” admits Marie-Thérèse. “For most guests, often travelling from cities, there are few reminders of their daily lives in Inis Meáin – this enables them to return refreshed and clear thinking after an Island Stay immersed in nature.”

Need to know: The Island Stays are available from April to September. There will be just 60 bookings available in 2023; 30 for the Stone House and 30 for the Boat House. Rates for up to four guests for a five day, four night stay are from €2,950. Included are welcome goodies and a larder starter kit, with optional extras such as a wine delivery service, mini deli, harvest box among others;

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