Luxury Combines with History
By Phyllis Steinberg
Was it a dream? I was transported back in time to the centuries of castles and knights in shinning armor. I stepped out of my horse drawn carriage and was assisted by a doorman. No dream, this was really what I experienced at the new Capella Castlematyr Resort.
Located in eastern County Cork, Ireland, in the country village of Castlematyr, the resort which opened in August, 2007, is a grand, fully restored manor house adjacent to the ruins of an 800-year-old castle. The ancient castle is said to be the scene where St. Patrick once stood to quell the heathen force of spirits, elves and idols using a shamrock.
The castle was built in 1210 by the knights of Richard Earl de Clare and belonged first to the Knights Templar. The seventeenth century legendary mansion is surrounded by lush greenery. The 220-acre estate features formal gardens, a serene meadow and swan pond, a luxurious spa and fitness center with a spa café, yoga and Pilates studio and an 18-hole golf club.
My spacious suite at Capella was castle like indeed combining mansion house style with high functionality. A computer keypad controlled the lights, curtains and the heat and air-conditioning. The marble bathroom was spacious and had a heated towel bar, separate shower room and bath tub. The bidet and toilet were located in an adjacent room. The living room had a complete bar set up, desk and comfy furniture. The suite also had a spacious outdoor foyer adjoining the living room and bedroom areas. I walked up the steps to my suite and imagined I was Cinderella in a castle.
The club rooms, lounges and library were outfitted with luxurious furnishings and draperies. One of the public areas called the Capella Living Room was one of my favorite places to relax. Here, I was assisted with booking area tourist attractions with the help of an attentive concierge and offered a bicycle to ride around the property.
One on the excursions I especially liked was a trip to Cobh, formerly known as Queenstown. This harbor town has a history of great ships, majestic liners and adventurous tales of the sea. It was the last port of call of the Titanic which anchored there on April 11, 1912. A museum located in Cobh, offers an exhibit tracing the history of the area and contains colorful stories about the Titanic and some of its local passengers. There is also a guided walking tour of Cobh, called the Titanic Trail which departs daily at 11 a.m. from the Commodore Hotel. Sites, buildings and streets that had direct connections with the Titanic and with other elements of Irish social, military and maritime history were explained by Michael Martin, a local guide with a wealth of interesting anecdotes about the area.
The English Market in Cork is also a fun way to spend a day. I had lunch in the market, dining on the local specialty, corned beef and cabbage, and spent the rest of the day checking out the various shops in the market.
At Capella, I took great pleasure in the multi-level Auriga Spa located adjacent to the manor house. Auriga takes its name from a constellation in the northern hemisphere. It is formulated around the universal rhythms of the cosmos. The spa has developed treatments focused on the phases of the moon. Products used in the spa are from the Organic Pharmacy and are all natural. Following the spa treatments, guests are given an explanation of the various products and their treatment benefits, if they want to continue with the products at home.
The indoor swimming pool and its adjacent spa pool with ozone-treated water, reduced the need for irritating chemicals and gave the water a sparkling quality. The spa offers a variety of treatments based on the lunar cycles as well as traditional spa fare such as facials, wraps and massages. There is also a beauty salon offering services such as manicures and pedicures.
I devoured the coarse-grained Irish bread at the resort, made in the mansion’s own bakery and the roast lamb and Irish stew were delicious choices on the menu in the dining room. Breakfast was equally sumptuous. The home made yogurt and granola were delightfully fresh and the pastries decadently delicious at breakfast in the beautifully appointed sun-lit garden room.
Rooms in the manor offer outstanding views. I stood at my window facing the gardens and wished I could stay here longer.
Photos by Phyllis Steinberg
* For information on Capella Castlematyr, County Cork, Ireland, log on to: www.capellacastlematyr.com
* For information on Titanic Trail excursions, log on to: www.titanic-trail.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
* For information on Ireland, log on to www.discoverireland.com
* For more information on the area, log on to www.tourismirelandinfo.com
* For information on air travel to Ireland, log on to: www.aerlingus.com
* For information on Southwest Ireland, log on to www.discoverireland.ie/southwest
* The website of the national tourism development authority is: www.failteireland.ie