The 2017 Jaguar sports coupe purred up the drive just in front of us as we arrived for our mid-week break at Monart Spa near Enniscorthy. One of the valets on duty took out the Louis Vuitton cases, and the elegant couple, bedecked in their designer gear, entered the building. We never saw them again. Or if we did, we didn’t recognise them, because we all looked the same in our white robes and slippers. You see, you are only required to dress for dinner in the restaurant. And that is the first thing I loved about Monart; its egalitarianism. All are equal within its confines.
Full credit to the designer and architects for their vision, because the merging of the old and the new is not just clever, but aesthetically beautiful. Wooden tree trunks bring the outside inside in many areas such as the airy glass reception and the bar and dining room.
They also succeeded in their circular design in making the grounds and the greenery visible from every window, with a view of trees or flowers or ducks. The work of local craftspeople is used throughout; even the pottery used in the dining areas is locally sourced, for example, Kiltrea Pottery and Carley’s Bridge Pottery.
The old house comprises a drawing room with turf fire and newspapers, the library (only place you can access wifi, so just leave the laptop behind) and a conservatory, all of which are comfortable and quiet; you can sit here reading, enjoy a drink or play a game of chess or draughts, if you wish. There is a distinct lack of clocks in Monart, thereby encouraging total relaxation, while the discouragement of the use of mobile phones (they are forbidden in the spa area, in any case) is an added bonus.
Let’s face it, even at a spa you want lovely food and Monart did not disappoint. I try to avoid eating too much bread but their home-made Guinness speciality was difficult to resist. Breakfasts of smoothies and healthy juices alongside the tasty full Irish or pancakes or Eggs Benedict were only a fraction of what was on offer. All was truly scrumptious.
Lunches of soups and open sandwiches (below) kept us fuelled until dinner; well, relaxing can be very tiring! Our dining experience in the restaurant on the first evening was wonderful, with each course superbly presented, cooked to perfection and full of taste. And the second evening in the bar was also delicious.
It is no surprise that the thermal spa has received awards and accolades such as being voted one of the world’s top 3 spa resorts by Conde Nast. You can spend several hours enjoying the various saunas on offer. The sauna ritual is a must and leaves you invigorated and very much awake, but my particular favourites were the InfaRed Pro (wonderful for an aching back and to relieve tension) and the Salt Grotto (great for the sinuses).
The pool is small but I did manage 15 minutes of swimming one morning and the aqua aerobics half-hour class was a good workout. The only negative, I felt, was that the pool’s various water jets were disappointing.
As well as lovely areas in which to relax (complete with blankets), complimentary fruit, water and herbal teas are available all day.
GG and I treated ourselves to a massage each, featuring products from the Pervonia Botanica elite skincare brand offered by prestigious spas worldwide. Our treatments were followed by a stint in the Dark Relaxation Room, again tucked up in blankets.
Apart from two suites in the old house (perfect for a very special occasion), all the rooms are exactly the same, with luxurious bathrooms, a continuation of the principle that all are equal at Monart. The rooms each have a balcony or patio on which to sit and admire your surroundings.
From the valets to the receptionists, bar, serving and spa staff, all without exception were welcoming, friendly and could not do enough for you. Most lived locally and the Wexford wit and hospitality shone through. We heard a lovely story from two Northern ladies. One of them, not being able to sleep decided she would go for a night-walk and left the door ajar because she could not find her key card. Her friend woke up and closed the door thinking they must have left it like that. When the wanderer returned she could not get back in and no amount of knocking could waken her friend. The night porter would not let her sleep in a chair and put her in the only vacant room, the four-poster suite in the old house. Customer service at its best!
- Get there as early as possible on the day you arrive. We booked in at one. If your room is not ready, you can explore.
- Obviously the best deals are midweek and I believe it is busier at weekends with day trippers!
- Book dinner in the restaurant and your spa treatments well in advance.
- There is a fully-equipped gym, if you are so inclined.
- Get a tour of the spa area, so you miss nothing.
- Water, still and sparkling, was free and glasses were replenished frequently. I never drank as much and felt seriously better for it.
- A stay at Monart is not inexpensive, but it is worth it. You will return revitalised and re-energised. My stay was a present from some wonderful friends for my significant birthday and, of course, GG got to benefit as well. Check out their website (above) and keep an eye out for special offers.