The southbound lane of the N11 has long been a direct escape route for thousands of Dubliners looking for a free mind, fresh air and relaxation. For these thousands of fleeing city folk it could be said that in terms of work life balance, Dublin is to work what Wexford is to balance. In search of this Zen we head for Ballymoney in north Wexford and upon a glowing reference from some friends we are more than pleased with what Seafield has on offer.
The first big win is the journey time, a little more than an hour in your car from Dublin and you’ve ticked your first box – escaping the city.
This is clearly identified when you taste the salty fresh air and gaze towards the rolling waves of the Irish Sea. It’s starting to become clear why the south lane of the N11 is no secret and in a way Ireland’s answer to the euro tunnel! The air quality on Cork, Wexford, and Clare street pales in significance to the genuine namesakes.
Walking into the lobby we are struck by the Laurent Mellet centaurides sculpture and slick design. It’s modern yet inviting and littered with refreshed faces. Our enthusiasm and expectations are now higher than ever.
We are greeted by a warm Wexford accent and big smile at check in. It’s always refreshing to come across a team of young locals that are proud of their locality and hotel. It’s also another welcome reminder that your city life is behind you.
We head for our room and are happy with what we find. It’s a decent sized room with a balcony overlooking the golf course – perfect for morning coffee.
The beds are king-sized and comfy, the room is clean and the shower had the power you would expect from a quality hotel.
‘Seafield is a modern spa hotel located on 160 acres of undulating parkland set adjacent to Ballymoney shore. It boasts an award winning spa, an 18 hole championship golf course and a truly refreshing beach walk.’
So as you would expect we are now ready to break out our ‘tog’s’ and take our pasty Irish skin to the oceo spa. We had both booked in for treatments, for her a ‘Musclease Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap’ and I went for the full body massage.
My massage was top notch, a real stress buster. Then when you finish, it’s off to the relax room for some sorbet, juice and a serving of music that would calm even Keano.
At this stage, I feel that I will do the Oceo spa an injustice if I don’t let Chloe take over the spa review. I’m an Irish man and although I thoroughly enjoyed it my instinct is to say it was GRAND. So, this is what Chloe had to say:
‘Being in the Oceo Spa is like being wrapped in silk. The dusky lighting of the spa and generously littered candles create a beautiful serene atmosphere. The sixteen metre swimming pool and outdoor vitality pool are my favorite features. I could easily spend hours here. I was kindly treated to a ‘Musclease Aroma Spa Ocean Wrap’ which cocoons you so tightly, every bit of tension is released. I left the Oceo Spa feeling rejuvenated and then I floated back to my room for the best sleep I’ve ever had.’
The restaurant is another highlight. It’s service was warm, professional and efficient. The food was even better. There is a clear French influence on the menu and it’s bursting with creativity. The ingredients were of high quality and the execution was excellent.
The Foie Gras is what I recommend starting with, it was served ballotine and parfait with poached chicken and toasted brioche, black fig purée, and Serrano ham with red wine and cinnamon jelly. It’s simply to die for.
The main courses we tried were John Dory pan-fried with alfonso mango, new season courgette, Irish crab and sweet ginger and for me the fillet of Tipperary beef with oxtail terrine, warm parsley jelly, wild mushroom gratin and bordelaise sauce.
Both could not be faulted for thought and delivery.
The desserts were a real winner, the nougatine parfait is delicate yet luscious. The chocolate is rich, smooth and delicious and we also tried the strawberry dessert during our stay, another not to be missed.
The next morning we started our day with coffee on our balcony followed by a relaxing stroll on the beach. After this we went to avail of the breakfast buffet, do not miss this treat. It’s comprehensively stocked and replenished with fresh goodies ranging from fruits and banana bread to fried potatoes and delicious mini pastries. It really is high quality stuff and in keeping with the consistency of what’s on offer.
On this occasion I didn’t golf, but by all accounts it a great course and yet another reason to indulge in the escapism on offer.
I’m glad to report that the only downside to our visit was the northbound route on the n11!