Put a spring in your step with a visit to Lough Erne Resort
Jenny Lee celebrates the Thai New Year with a visit to Ireland's only Thai Spa hotel
AFTER a stressful few weeks of recovering from Covid and caring for my ill mother, as well as juggling work, school runs, homework dramas and helping with the new arrivals of lambs and calves on our family farm, an invite to an afternoon at the Lough Erne Resort and their traditional Thai Spa was just what the doctor ordered.
I visited earlier this month, on what was Songkran - the Thai New Year. It is a celebration that embraces goodwill, love, compassion and thankfulness, using water as the means of expression.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by Stephen Holland, executive head chef at the resort, who kickstarted our Songkran experience with a multi-sensory Thai afternoon tea.
The freshly prepared delicacies highlighted the fusion between Thailand and Ireland. It was one of many limited-edition afternoon teas regularly offered by the hotel.
As I have a wheat intolerance, I was delighted to see how all the menus are well labelled with allergens. There are vegan and coeliac afternoon teas and the chefs are very willing to adapt dishes to suit your requirements.
The five-star hotel brings the only wholly Thai Spa experience to Ireland with Thai treatments, by Thai therapists who originate from and are expertly trained in Thailand.
The Thai Spa, albeit small, is very peaceful. Before my treatment I enjoyed the thermal suite and infinity pool, soaking up the stunning views of the Lakeland and golf course.
Thai massage, which originated over 2,500 years ago, was originally regarded as a healing art. Much firmer than a traditional Western massage, practitioners use their hands, thumbs, elbows and forearms to reduce tension in your muscles.
As well as an achy lower back and tense, hunched shoulders from spending too much time in front of a screen, I had a particularly painful shoulder.
My therapist was incredibly talented - it was as if she instinctively knew where every tight muscle and knot was in my body.
I had the Thai Herbal Poultice massage, so as well as using oils, a hot muslin ball filled with a variety of Thai herbs was rolled and kneaded across my body, improving poor circulation and aiding tired muscles and stiff joints.
Afterwards I genuinely felt both calm and energised and like a weight was lifted off my neck and shoulders.
I savoured this feeling as I enjoy an infused herbal tea and fresh fruit in the Sabi Sabi Area, the translation of which aptly means health and happiness,
Our final treat was dinner in The Blaney Bar, which has just introduced its new summer menu, with a focus on local produce.
Homemade soup with Guinness Wheaten Bread, Fivemiletown Boili Goat Cheese, Maple Whiskey Cured Salmon and Killybegs Fried Haddock, which I thoroughly enjoyed, are just some of the delicious offerings.
The team have also been experimenting with new cocktails, including using herbs foraged from the resort's 600-acre grounds. A highlight is The Lough Erne Garden Cocktail, featuring Fermanagh Boatyard Distillery vodka, lemon, mint, thyme, coriander and juniper berries.
The resort has recently introduced an exciting range of outdoor activities including water bikes and paddleboards. I left invigorated and revitalised, but aching for a longer visit.
More information at lougherneresort.com.