You may not be to the manor born,
But you can check into a 5 star manor
that treats its guests like royalty
The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt in county Wicklow, Ireland, is a 200 room Georgian Style manor house built on the grounds of the historical 1,000 acre Powerscourt Estate near Dublin. This luxurious sanctuary for the senses, has oversized rooms, lavish suites, a 36-hole championship golf course, 33,000 square foot ESPA, a Gordon Ramsay signature restaurant, and a staff of “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen".
My personal journey
The Ritz-Carlton sends a car and driver to Dublin to fetch me; it is forty five minute drive. From the moment we enter the gates, of one of the most scenic and historic estates in Ireland, I am transported back in time,: to a place of tranquility and serenity…where rivers and waterfalls flow … mountains rise in the distance…three hundred year old trees shade the lanes … and docile horses roam the fields, happy to make friends for cubes of sugar, apples or carrots.
Babbie checks in
Even a step for them to reach the counter
The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, with its neo-classic Palladian exterior and Georgian inspired interior, has the right to boast about having some of the largest hotel rooms in Ireland. My two bath suite with a private forty foot terrace is opulent as well as huge; it faces the lawn chess board, croquette green, miles of forest and Sugar Load Mountain.
There’s even a television screen in the middle of my bathroom mirror (I watch the news while brushing my teeth.) and one mirrored square set into the tiles of my oversized shower ( great for shaving or washing off eye- makeup, missed the night before.
View from my room
I begin my days at the bountiful Irish Breakfast buffet, a celebration of local products nature generously provides. The sun is warm and undaunted by the gray clouds that float by. I carry my plate, filled with smoked salmon, fruits, fresh baked breads, eggs, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes out to the restaurant terrace. I savor my food and the moment; it is a glorious day, and I feel blessed to be here.
The Irish are big on mushrooms, tomatoes and piping hot scones
The view of Sugar Loaf Mountain from Restaurant Terrace
Time for a game of lawn chess
A special card opens the gate that leads to the River Walk, a path of dense vegetation that runs east and west along the river banks. The autumn winds rustle the leaves of trees centuries old. I stroll down the lane, past the east and west golf courses. Two friendly horses grazing in a field trot over. I leave the gates and continue down to the small quaint village of Enniskerry; I wander in and out of the small shops; locals are happy to chat, and I meet Keith Manning, owner of Nancy Murphy’s Gastro Pub .and Chez Cocobelle Bistro. A cup of fresh brewed cappuccino hits the spot; and I accept his invite to join him for dinner. As his chef promised, the fillet of Irish beef served with horseradish butter, asparagus and stuffed baked tomatoes is tender and beautifully seasoned.
The first frost nips the crisp autumn air; it lifts my spirits and my energy soars as I jog down the road to feed the horses apples and sugar cubes. They have come to know me and trot up to be fed and stroked.
Feeding the horses
My new friend
Afternoon tea in the Sugarloaf Lounge, served indoors or al fresco on the terrace, is a stately affair that draws on the traditions of high tea at the manor. Executive Pastry chef Ludovic Lantier prepares a medley of sweet treats, and then wows me with his outrageously delicious bacon and tomato bread, baked with a parmesan crust.
Pastry chef shows off batch of home made chocolate
Just baked bacon and tomato bread
Babbie and chefs in Sugar Loaf restaurant kitchen
Its Fish and Chips in the hotel’s McGill’s Pub where I settle in at the bar. Manager Roisin O’Connell has recently returned from New York where she worked in some of my favorite restaurants.
A Day in the Spa
The spa’s menu of cutting edge beauty and wellness treatments is impressive
I arrive two hours before my Signature Peat Ritual in order to enjoy the crystal steam rooms, oversized rainfall showers, saunas, and vitality pools. I swim laps in the Swarovski crystal –lit pool and doze in the Serenity Room. The spa is a nurturing escape, a destination in its self, an extra sensory experience with soft music, mood enhancing fiber optics, and the gentle aroma of essential oils that are infused into the air.
The serene view from the Serenity room
Sinead Cox, the Public Relations Director invites me to dinner in the hotel’s Gordon Ramsay Restaurant to experience his five course tasting menu that is paired with delicate white and robust red wines. Massimiliano Zanardi, the hotel’s General Manager, joins us, and to quote Max: “it was an evening filled with mystic moments”. Before the evening is over, Max graciously announces he will cook a farewell dinner for me in his cottage.
Dessert is a sweet treat
The Irish have an amusing way with words; my wake-up call tells me today’s weather will be “cold with sunny spells”.
Pauline Martin, a knowledgeable historian takes me on a delightful tour of the magnificent world famous 40 acre Powerscourt Gardens, one of Europe’s great treasures. The flower beds are still in full bloom; we wander for two hours. Pauline shares the fascinating history of the property, the fire that destroyed the original castle, and the recent airplane tragedy that took the life of the current owner. We stop at the family’s pet cemetery and I photograph the tombstone of Elsie the family cow.
Family Pet Cemetery
Max, Sinead, her darling husband Shane and Jill O’Hare, the hotel’s sales director and I drive to Max’s cottage. The evening is a delicious celebration of the pleasures of life, Max’s hospitality and passion for food, and the joy of sharing my last evening in Ireland with wonderful new friends.
Let the party begin
Something to nibble on while we’re cooking
Is the lamb ready to serve?
Racks of lamb cooked to medium rare perfection
A feast fit for lords and ladies of the manor
An evening to be rememberedAn evening to be remembered
Max relaxes after his great hospitality
A car is waiting to take me to the airport for my flight back to reality. The hotel has thoughtfully packed breakfast. Brilliant is a word often used in Ireland, and brilliant is a word that best describes my time here at this amazing property. Once again, yet another Ritz-Carlton treats me like royalty and as their very special guest. They excel at their philosophy “we are a staff of ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen” . . . and serve they did. Imperial indulgence was the order of the day, and my very special stay.
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