Deirdre Mullins unwinds in Westmeath.
My visit to the Wineport Lodge coincided with high winds and on the walk from my car to reception I had to hold on to my hat. This dramatic weather meant that stepping inside the lodge had an even greater sense of homecoming than I had expected.
The building is wood-clad, with verandas and jetties overlooking Lough Ree. In fine weather there are plenty of alfresco places to sit and enjoy the peaceful location. On a windy day you can appreciate a panoramic view of the lake from the large bay windows of the lodge.
The staff gave a good first impression – friendly and helpful. Even though I arrived two hours early for check-in they managed it well, offering me tea in the lounge with my room within a few minutes.
The rooms are named after a wine region, such as Tuscany, Loire Valley and Burgundy. They are all unusually big and have a lake view from the large windows and private balconies. The hotel's website says "relaxation is our foremost philosophy" and the rooms definitely reflect this. The super king-size bed was delightful with its goose down duvets and extra large pillows. This comfort, combined with the peaceful location, provided for an excellent night's sleep.
In keeping with the rest of the room, the wardrobe was spacious - the novelty of having a walk-in wardrobe made the room special for me. Reception has a DVD library and you can watch a movie on a large LCD screen in your room. There is also a well-stocked MP3 player - an often neglected item in hotel rooms. Bathroom speakers mean that you can listen to music while having a shower or soaking in the freestanding bath. The Voya products and underfloor heating are a nice touch too.
The restaurant at the Wineport Lodge is the setting for the RTÉ television show The Restaurant, so its interior was a familiar sight. Dining here is an event and the chef, Cathal Moran, has a varied, seasonal menu, while proprietors Ray Byrne and Jane English run a busy floor with excellent service. It was encouraging to see the dining room packed mid-recession. The table d'hôte menu offers two courses at €35 or three courses for €45. The mushroom and spinach risotto was a great start to my meal. The à la carte menu is more expensive, with starters priced around €12 to €14 and mains around €25 to €30. From this menu I had the monkfish, which was perfectly cooked and delicious.
Out and About
At reception they have directions to and details of the walking tracks nearby. Boating and fishing are popular on the lake. The nearby village of Glasson has plenty of places to eat and drink such as Grogans and The Fattened Calf. Or you could take a drive to Athlone - just a 15-minute drive away - and do a bit of sightseeing and shopping.
There is no pool or thermal spa in the Wineport, which gives even more of an excuse to relax in the room. But if you want that pamper factor there are two treatment suites with a good selection of massage and beauty treatments for both men and women. One of the signature treatments is 'his and hers' and is perfect for spoiling the special person in your life. Both of you get a one-hour full body massage followed by a L'Occitane bath (in your room) and a glass of champagne for €175. If you don't want to splash out on a treatment you can use the hot tub on the roof free of charge.
Breakfast in bed is delivered at no extra cost. What a treat!
There are no walking paths around the lake.
How Do I Get There?
The Wineport Lodge is just off the Dublin-Galway motorway, which means that it's easily accessible from most parts of the country. From Dublin city it takes an hour-and-a-half to drive there. If you don't have a car you can get a bus or train to Athlone and then get a taxi, which takes about 15 minutes. There's also a pier, so you can arrive by boat from anywhere on the Shannon complex.
On special offer at the moment is the Super Spring Staycation. This is three nights for the price of two and 5% off your complete bill on departure. The offer includes breakfast each morning, one dinner and a half-hour treatment each. The cost is €219pps and is available Sunday to Thursday until March 31 2012.
For more information, visit: www.wineport.ie or call: 090-643 9010
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