‘Fota’ means ‘warm soil’ – and this is why County Cork’s Fota Island is named so, as the island has its own micro-climate in which its wide variety of tropical plants can flourish. You may have heard of the island’s thriving and ever-expanding wildlife sanctuary, or its magical fairy forest featuring towering oak trees (next to which you feel quite elflike). What you might not have heard of is the spa that the five-star Fota Island Resort now boasts. Fota Island Resort Spa is a mystical, re-energising oasis that serves to bring its visitors life – in the same way the island’s soil does for all its unique flora and fauna.
Fota Island Resort Spa features a Hydrotherapy Suite, complete with sprawling, temperate reflexology pool in which to treat tired muscles and a ‘walking river’ of water currents, as well as a Relaxation Area, for the visitor to spend time in post-treatment, overlooking the Spa’s gardens, a-twitter with songs by Fota’s birdlife. Before the treatment, visit its Thermal Suite – the Hammamm’s sauna, trepidarium and quiet room, complete with heated mosaic loungers – for a soothing and warming pre-treatment welcome.
The holistic treatments on offer are devised by some of the world’s leading spa brands, including Comfort Zone, VOYA, and GROUND Wellbeing, and carried out in one its 18 treatment rooms. While the Spa is large enough for its visitors to never have to experience a wait, each of its relaxation professionals are personable and kind. Their unique Cork charm puts you right at ease, and you rest assured that your relaxation is the ultimate priority. Each treatment feels like a safe journey into the ‘warm soil’ Fota is known for – replenishing, grounding, and calming. Exactly what is needed after a busy start to the post-pandemic summer, and such an uncertain year. For those on this journey with their loved one, the Spa features a luxurious couples suite.
Wellness curator Peigín Crowley is the mind behind GROUND, a collection of 100% natural aromatherapy oils and balms to encourage mindful self-care – a gentle and reflective way to ‘tóg go bog é’. At the beginning of my treatment – a Restorative Face, Neck & Scalp Ritual, which alleviated every tension from head to nose to shoulder – I was offered to select one of four oils. There was Beo (to re-energise), Codhladh (to relax), Talamh (to balance), and Cúram (to comfort) on offer, each vibrant yet soothing. As I am citrus-obsessed, and drawn to what promises to bring me energy, I chose Beo. First, the oil was suspended above me as I breathed in its gorgeous grapefruit and coriander seed scent – and then, the return to utter calm, as the treatment began. All of the oils and balms are handmade in small batches by Peigín in Ovens in Co. Cork, using pure botanical vegan ingredients, clean and green, organic where possible, blended with sincere intention to soothe the soul. For the day and night following my Beo-powered treatment, I felt at ease, re-energised, and galvanised for the week ahead.
Empowered by the soils and oils of Fota already, I was keen to dig in to the delights of their renowned fare. The Resort’s exclusive Cove Restaurant offers a true taste of Cork. Its fresh and modern dinner tasting menu presents six courses of the best of Cork’s cuisine, featuring Hereford beef that will melt in your mouth, and seafood plucked right from the waves of Castletownbere or Ballycotton.
Fota Island Resort’s Amber Bar & Lounge, next to The Cove, opens on to a wrap-around patio heated with smart outdoor heaters and blankets, the perfect setting for an apéritif. The bar itself overlooks its peaceful oriental gardens, and serves an exceptional menu. The whiskey-interested will delight in the surrounds of the bar and its respectful nod to the distinguished heritage with Jameson Distillery Midleton – the Amber Bar’s extensive menu features an impressive selection of over 75 fine whiskeys, including a number from nearby Midleton Distillery.
While Fota is indeed steeped in blooming green nature, and is located on an island as part of Cork Harbour’s famous archipelago, it does not feel as remote as it should. Fota Island Resort is located ten minutes from Cork City Centre, and is a short drive from Cobh, the hilly and idyllic harbour town famous for its grand cathedral, great cafés and gorgeous promenade.
Fota Island Resort and its Spa offer both a remote escape, and a return to peaceful grounding, in a way no other Irish resort can. Book now at www.fotaisland.ie.
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