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The K Club; County Kildare, Ireland
The countryside, five-star Kildare Hotel and Golf Club (K Club for short) is a quick 40-minute drive from Dublin. The two Arnold Palmer-designed courses, the Palmer Ryder Cup Golf Course at The K Club and the Smurfit Course, are considered two of Ireland’s finest championship golf courses. The K Club’s Palmer Course played host to the 2006 Ryder Cup and 11 European Opens and is regularly ranked as one of Ireland’s top three Parkland courses.
Couples looking for an active and luxurious getaway should take a look at our snapshot of golf resorts that are as serious about spas and gastronomy as they are about the great game itself. These three domestic beauties are close to hearth and home – in the California wine country, on the rugged coast of Oregon, and on the shores of Wisconsin.
Golfers, like the U.S. settlers, hit the East first, then went west. But skip over the well-known courses in southern Florida and the California desert. Some of the finest and best golf resorts today are now in Wisconsin, Oregon, and the foothills of California. These blazing hot American resorts rival anything Europe has to offer.
Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits; Kohler, Wisconsin:
This Midwestern gem is ranked among the top golf resorts and courses in the U.S. None other than the legendary Pete Dye designed its four championship golf courses.
Blackwolf Run opened in 1988 with two courses, Meadow Valleys and The River, which are among the most challenging courses in North America. Both courses just reopened the greens after an extensive, two-year renovation.
If you have a thing for H2O – you love to be near it, in it, over it, or under it – here’s a sampling of some of the unique water-centric features of a variety of resort and cruise ship spas in the U.S. and around the globe. All are located on or near the ocean as well, so it’s water, water everywhere!
Deep Ocean Spa, Bora Bora: If you are planning a romantic getaway or honeymoon, consider the exotic South Pacific island of Bora Bora, where The Deep Ocean Spa at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa (shown above at left) is a water-lovers’ fantasy come true. Features include overwater treatment rooms with glass panels in the floor so you can spy on fish as your back is massaged, and an al fresco hydrotherapy circuit filled with mineral-rich sea water pumped from 3,000 feet below the Pacific. Rooms from $670, treatments from $108.
Summer is the perfect time to visit the green shores of Eire, and with our newly updated Ireland Travel Guide you’ll have all the latest on what to see and do while you’re there. We’ve got some exciting additions to our hotel guide, from a bustling Dublin hotel near the city center to a wooded resort next to a wildlife park in the east of the country.
- For a dose of Irish culture in Dublin, the Burlington Hotel offers an in-house cabaret showcasing traditional Irish music, song, and dance, with a four-course dinner for about $80/person.
- Fota Island Resort, set on 780 acres of peaceful woodland on Fota Island in County Cork, has three golf courses, a hydrotherapy spa, and golf and fitness camps.
- At the Parknasilla Resort & Spa, you can bed down in the luxurious Princess Grace suite, where Grace Kelly once stayed with her family.
Get the skinny on all the recommended castle hotels, resorts, and B&Bs in our Ireland Hotel Guide.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights to Ireland. For general trip-planning information, see our Ireland Travel Guide.
Ireland may just be top o’ mind this week as everything gets tinted green – from beer and mashed potatoes to Chicago’s river and New York City’s Fifth Avenue. If so, now is a great time to book a luxurious romantic getaway to the Emerald Isle, as some of my favorite castles and hotels are offering fabulous spring specials. Here’s what’s available:
Ashford Castle: This stunning 13th-century castle once owned by the Guinness family (shown above at left) is as grand and romantic as it gets. Located on 350 acres beside Lough Corrib in County Mayo, about 26 miles northwest of Galway, Ashford Castle features 83 individually designed rooms and suites decorated with antiques (the best, called Staterooms, have four-poster beds and fireplaces). The George V fine-dining venue has period décor, including Waterford chandeliers, while the more intimate Connaught Room is known for its intricate wood carvings and French cuisine. Stay two nights at Ashford Castle, for a total of $545, including full Irish breakfast, and get a third night free at Ashford or at nearby Dromoland Castle Hotel & Country Estate, through April 30, 2011.
Come celebrate everyone’s favorite Irish holiday in the motherland, by getting three nights in a Limerick hotel for $364 (total). The Mustard Seed Hotel at Echo Lodge is offering a rare Three for Two St. Patrick’s Day Special. Pay for two nights between March 9 and 17 and stay the third night for free. Located less than an hour from Shannon airport, County Limerick offers a quaint Irish village setting, beautiful scenery, and a lively pub-centric nightlife. This hotel started out as a restaurant, and once it became a destination dining spot, expanded into the elegant Mustard Seed Hotel.
THE VALUE: For two adults, you’ll pay a total of $364 for three nights ($122 per night!). Plus, you’ll get a free daily Irish breakfast.
THE CATCH: You must stay two nights between March 9 – 17 to get the third night free. The $364 price is calculated from a total package cost of 260 EUR, and exchange rates may fluctuate.
THE DETAILS: This deal is available through March 20, 2011. Book online at the Mustard Seed’s website.
WE’VE GOT MORE: For general trip-planning information, see our Ireland Travel Guide.
Book a flight to the Emerald Isle with our Travel Search price comparison tool.
Also known as the “Emerald Isle,” Ireland is most lush in the spring. Unfortunately, airlines take advantage of this peak travel season to hike their fares to well over $600. However, in a fluke airfare price drop, Aer Lingus is offering round-trip flights from just $398 (not including taxes). Book by March 3 and fly from New York City to Dublin or Shannon April 2 through 9 in order to get the best price. Fares are also available out of Chicago and Boston for travel April 13 through May 14 starting from just $19 extra.
THE VALUE: Springtime fares to Ireland rarely clock in under $600. Plus – a recent development in the airline business – Aer Lingus is one of the only carriers that still allows one checked bag free of charge!
THE CATCH: Be sure to budget for up to an extra $125 in fees and taxes.
THE DETAILS: Visit www.aerlingus.com to book by March 3.
At the coastal Lodge at Doonbeg in western County Clare, Ireland, guests can play a round on a Greg Norman-designed links course, enjoy Irish-inspired treatments at the White Horses Spa, and participate in tastings with a whiskey sommelier. Uniquely, they can also plumb their family’s lineage. Prior to arrival, a guest can submit an online form and the hotel’s resident genealogist will research the person’s family tree, finding any Irish roots. Depending on what Doonbeg digs up, once in Ireland, guests may plan an excursion to an ancestral village or even meet a long-lost relative.
With salty breezes blowing across the links and green hills unfurling in the distance, the Emerald Isle is an unforgettable place to tee off. Best of all, Ireland’s top golf resorts cater to seasoned pros and spa-bound revelers alike. Check out these listings for every budget with packages from less than $400 to more than $700.
Even with newfangled GPS gadgetry out there in increasing numbers, a good, old-fashioned map remains a staple for any self-respecting adventure traveler.
To that end, the National Geographic Society, the gold-standard source for maps for nearly a century, recently announced plans to expand its AdventureMaps line. The expansion will bring travelers a slew of new options for finding their way in increasingly popular adventure destinations such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Thailand. Countries and cities in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Europe are also on deck for a total of 60 new destinations by the end of 2012, and 30 more by summer of next year.
Dolls This pint-size boutique features a carefully edited collection of muted basics and stylish footwear by rising Scandinavian designers as well as Irish ones like Lucy Downes, known for knit dresses and cardigans. Other standouts include owner Petria Lenehan’s cashmere sweaters and ’40s-style silk dresses; high-waisted trousers by Fabiana Filippi of Umbria, Italy; menswear by Peter Jensen; and velvet sandals by The Jackson Twins. A second outpost of Dolls recently opened on Emorville Avenue in the Portobello neighborhood. 32B Clarendon St.; 011-353-1-672-9004
Cow’s Lane Designer Studio This 2-year-old designer co-op offers shelf space to a dozen Irish creative types, with an emerging jewelry designer occupying one corner and a second-generation millinery occupying another. (The latter once supplied hats to Aer Lingus flight attendants.) Among the locally made wares at Designer Studio are goat’s milk–and-almond soaps from the Curlew Mountains, sterling silver and stone baubles, and grosgrain ribbon-adorned straw or felt hats by Shevlin. West Essex Street; 011-353-1-874-0447; cowslanedesignerstudio.ie
There’s magic in Ireland’s mystical scenery, rolling fields full of abandoned relics, and ancient castles that act as a portal into the past. On the other hand, its unfriendly weather makes it a gamble when shelling out top dollar for the annual vacation. Late summer is undoubtedly the best time to go (weather-wise), but airfare costs skyrocket to around $900 round-trip. That’s why this impressive 6-night package is such a steal. Not only does it include airfare, but it also bundles accommodations at castle-hotels and a manual car rental for just $899.
THE VALUE: Accommodations alone at Bunratty Castle, Kilronan Castle, and Clontarf Castle total over $400 when booking separately. After factoring in flight and car rental this package, you’re easily saving over $650 per person.
THE CATCH: This offer is based on double occupancy, so you’ll need to find a travel buddy. Flights are based out of New York. Add $20 for flights from Chicago and $50 for flights from New York. Other routes are available.
THE DETAILS: Visit www.dooleyvacations.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Locate the best restaurants, attractions, and more in our Ireland Travel Guide.
Looking for great travel packages? Take a look at this week’s Top 25 newsletter.
Plan another trip with our Travel Search price comparison tool.
Dating back to the 13th century, Ashford Castle is one of the oldest castles in the British Isles and also one of the most upscale hotels to stay in Ireland. Create your own fairytale with this Aer Lingus Vacation that flies you to Shannon in the beautiful southwestern region with iconic rolling green hills and dramatic cliffs. Stay one night in the four-star Strand Hotel in Limerick along the banks of the Shannon River and then three nights in small Irish B&Bs. Travel between charming seaside villages in your included rental car with unlimited mileage. The fourth night is in the lavish Ashford Castle where estate activities include golf, horseback riding, fishing and even falconry, and the final night is spent in Limerick at the Strand before departing from the Shannon airport.
THE VALUE: One night at the Ashford Castle is over $200/nt alone so getting the rest — including airfare and rental car — for $749 is a steal. Full breakfast is included everywhere except The Strand.
When St. Patrick’s Day rolls around ever year, it’s hard not to cringe at the contrast between the obnoxious stateside celebrations (I mean, really – green beer?) and the rugged, raw beauty of Ireland, where the holiday originates. But Ireland’s craggy cliffs, sheep-dotted countryside, and 3,000 miles of coastline provide more than just stunning photo opps – the geography is tailor-made for adventure. Plus, the country’s glorious pub culture offers endless opportunities to raise a pint to the day’s activity and share in the craic – pronounced “crack” and loosely translated as a rollicking good time – with the locals.
Need more incentive? Flights and accommodations are usually cheaper in the off-season of late winter/early spring. (I visited in February, a usually cold, rainy month, but I enjoyed a week of sunny skies. The Irish eyes must have been smiling on me.) Here, some highlights you can easily recreate during your own trip: Read more
Getting in touch with your Gaelic ancestors is a 5-star affair with the Ireland Deluxe Resort Package, sponsored by the Aer Lingus Vacation Store. For just $539 until March 10, and $599 between March 11 and April 30, the rolling, green plains and aromatic whiskies of Ireland await you at The Heritage Golf Resort and Spa in Killenard. Priced less than a peak-season flight to Dublin, this package features a 6-night stay in a 2-bedroom, luxury villa, round-trip airfare from the United States, and a car rental.
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