“ Address: Belleek Road / Enniskillen / Fermanagh / BT93 7ED / Northern Ireland „
I have just reached a milestone age, I celebrated my 40th birthday and I asked my husband to arrange a night away for the two of us, a major logistical feat for us. I am a married mother of three children, aged 8, 5 and 15 months and I work full-time so arranging any free time let alone a night away is something of a major event.
Why did we choose the Lough Erne Golf Resort?
Well to be honest the decision was not based on any strong desire to play golf, well at least not in February. Basically we were looking for somewhere that would offer us a night of luxury, with good food and comfort and somewhere we would not have to travel too far to get to. I would have loved to have gone somewhere exotic and hot, but with aforementioned family and commitments this was not possible.
I did a bit of research on the Internet and came up with the Lough Erne Golf Resort, "Northern Ireland's first five star hotel", I did some further research, checked out the Internet site, had a look on Tripadvisor and decided this was the place. You will notice that I have written that "I did some research", this was supposed to be a surprise birthday treat organised by my husband but he asked me to do the organising so I could find what I actually wanted.
We also needed to make arrangements for the children so my husband sorted with my Mother that she would come to our home to keep the children overnight. This is really good of her, she is 69 and the children can be a handful, but it also meant that I needed to get the house in order for an overnight guest. My husband told my Mother that the whole thing was a surprise so I had to pretend to her that I was doing nothing for my birthday. The plan was that my husband would tell me about the night away on my actual birthday, the day before we were due to depart.
I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland and wanted to go somewhere within reasonable driving distance, because we would not get away until early evening and we would have to leave around noon the next day for home. From Belfast the drive to the Resort is 81 miles about 1 and a half to 2 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions. The Resort is on the Belleek Road, 4 miles from Enniskillen and was quite easy to find, there were numerous signposts in Enniskillen directing traffic to the resort.
The Lough Erne Golf Resort and Spa
The Resort is 4 miles outside Enniskillen in the county of Fermanagh. County Fermanagh is famous for the beautiful lakes and stunning scenery, so the setting of the Resort is absolutely gorgeous; it nestles between Lower Lough Erne and Castle Hume Lough and even has its own jetty. Lots of general information on the Resort and the location can be found on its web page www.loughernegolfresort.com The setting is idyllic and when we stayed at the Resort there had been snow so the views were really breathtaking. The Resort has 2 golf courses the newest of which is a championship course designed by Nick Faldo and is due to be opened in July 2009.
I will try to give you a flavour of the Resort and how I found it during my stay. Bear in mind that I only stayed overnight so have not sampled all the delights of the Resort and Spa. There is a beautiful Spa in the Resort and full details of the treatments and prices can be found on the website.
Accommodation - there are 120 rooms including a number of suites, one of which is the Faldo Suite, named after the legendary Nick Faldo. We stayed in a beautiful double room with a lake view. The room was not overly large but had everything we needed, large king size bed, 2 bedside tables with lamps, large wardrobe, plenty of hanging space, a round table and 2 chairs, a dressing/vanity unit with lots of drawers and a table on which to set your luggage. The room had tea/coffee making facilities with a good selection of teas, coffee including decaffeinated and even some sachets of drinking chocolate. There was ample stationery and lots of information guides to the hotel and surrounding areas. There was an ironing board and iron kept in the wardrobe and a good quality hairdryer, a 2000w Tresemme dryer. There was also a private bar in the room but we did not consume any of the contents, truth be told they were a bit too pricey, you could have had a bottle of Faldo Cabernet Sauvignon for £27.00 or various other drinks, alcoholic and non-alcoholic there were also snacks available in the private bar.
I think my favourite room was the luxury bathroom, well it seemed luxurious to me. The bathroom was large, it had really good lighting, there was a freestanding walk-in shower a lovely freestanding claw footed bath and an extensive vanity unit including sink with a very large over mirror. The toilet had an old-fashioned pull chain cistern and worked very well. The bathroom was tiled from floor to ceiling and there was a large heated radiator. The bathroom was supplied with plenty of large, good quality towels. There was also 2 bathrobes and slippers supplied. There were plenty of toiletries supplied and a really large mirror over the basin.
The bedroom was well decorated with browns, golds and deep reds, it was clean and well kept. There were no signs of wear and tear on any of the furnishings or bedding. The bed had plenty of pillows and extra pillows were provided in the wardrobe. The bed had a warm duvet and heavy chenille cover, it smelled clean and the bedding was well laundered. There was a window in the room and we had a lovely view of the lake. The room was warm and the porter had showed us how to adjust the heating according to our preferences.
We had booked an offer of room, bed and breakfast and evening meal, it cost £199.00 in total and I felt this was good value. We did have some extras but these were for wine and my husband's choice of meal. We had booked a table in the Catalina restaurant for 9.15, this is the latest time that can be booked. You are advised to book your table in the 75 seat restaurant in advance of your stay because this is an award winning restaurant and is very popular with guests and those coming to the Resort just to eat. The Catalina restaurant has 2 AA Rosettes. The Executive Chef is Noel McMeel a famous and award winning chef. The menu was not extensive about 6 starters and mains to choose from, but each item on the menu was truly appealing. I ordered crab to start followed by venison for my main course, my husband also had the crab and for his main he had the mixed grill. I am not normally very adventurous when choosing food but had decided that I would try something I had never eaten before and I had never had crab or venison before.
We were served cooled water when we sat down and then the waiter brought us our menus to peruse, whilst we were studying the menu we were brought a selection of bread and butter, there was an extensive range of homemade breads to choose from I had curry bread and my husband had soda, both were delicious. The starters were served very quickly after we had ordered and the crab was served as a tower with smoked salmon pieces on top accompanied by beetroot in redcurrant and avocado cream, I don't know why but I was surprised that the starter was cold but this did not lessen the enjoyment, the crab was beautiful, very creamy but really salty, it tasted very fresh. The crab was served on a piece of slate and this definitely added to the presentation, the very dark grey of the slate with the creamy white of the crab, I really enjoyed my starter and ate every morsel.
Our slate plates were cleared away when we had finished and out mains were brought to the table soon after. The waiter had asked how I wanted my venison and I explained that I had never had it before and what would he recommend. The waiter advised that the chef recommends the venison is cooked to medium, I think he saw my face at this and went to great lengths to assure me there would be no sign of blood. My husband ordered the mixed grill which was made up of lamb, pork, steak and kidney, my husband normally eats his meat medium done so he asked for his to be medium.
Our plates were brought to us and again the presentation was amazing, it really made you want to eat the food, not overly decorated but everything on the plate just looked mouth-wateringly good. On my plate were 3 pieces of venison, served on a bed of celeriac with a rosti on the side. The venison looked to me quite well done and then I turned it over to real the most beautiful looking piece of meat, it did look slightly pink but there was absolutely no sign of blood or uncooked flesh. As soon as I put the knife to the meat to cut it, it just came away it was perfectly and tasted delicious. I was surprised that the taste was to light, I expected it to have a strong almost gamey taste but it was completely different to what I was expecting. The meat was pink and tender but really flavoursome, I ate all three piece of venison, and they were quite substantial, a bit like three pieces of fillet but the taste was definitely not of beef, it had its own very distinct taste and is something I would definitely eat again, for a special occasion.
My husband had ordered the mixed grill and he was served with a piece of steak, a lamb chop, a slice of pork, kidney and some homemade chips, again the presentation was faultless. My husbands meat did appear to be a bit rarer than mine and there was definitely a hint of red to the steak., he thoroughly enjoyed every mouthful To accompany the meal we were served with carrots and parsnips in little copper pots and some dauphin Oise potatoes, again the side dishes were cooked to perfection. The restaurant boasts n extensive wine cellar and indeed the wine is on view in the restaurant. To accompany our meal we selected a Chianti, I don't know much about wine but Chianti would be my red wine of choice, this cost £30.00, there were wines on the wine list from £17.50 up to over £500.00, as well as red wine there was also a large selection of white, rose and champagnes.
My husband and I both thoroughly enjoyed our meals and whilst there was a very appealing dessert menu and selection of cheeses we just had coffee to finish with, we had eaten so well that to have dessert would have been a waste. Our waiter was very attentive but not to the point of annoying, he did check that we were enjoying our meal and that everything was to our satisfaction but he definitely let us enjoy our meal without interruptions.
The hotel has the Blaney bar and it is very stylish and comfortable and the service was very attentive, there is a wide range of beers, spirits, wines, cocktails on offer. We had just one drink each and retired to our room. The Resort also has conference facilities and does cater for weddings, in fact there is a Chapel in the grounds were wedding ceremonies can be held.
Checkout from the hotel is at 12.00 and as were only booked in for the one night we wanted to experience the hotels spa facilities. Breakfast was served on Saturday from 7.30 to 9.30 so we decided we would get up early and go for a swim in the 14 metre pool and see what else was on offer. There is an extensive range of treatments on offer in the spa and these have to be booked directly with the spa. Because our stay was so short I didn't book any spa treatments but we did use the facilities. The spa is a Thai spa and was decorated to reflect the oriental atmosphere. The spa can be accessed from the hotel for guests or through a separate entrance for spa patrons. The spa opens on Saturday at 8.00 am so we made our way down to the spa entrance, we were greeted by a lovely lady who explained where everything was and gave us our towels. The male and female changing areas are separate and I found the ladies changing area to be very clean and well presented. There was a changing area and a number of lockable storage lockers, there were basins and 2 individual toilets, there were also 2 screened showers. Each shower had wall mounted toiletries, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. There was also a hairdryer available.
After making your way from the changing area you enter the main area containing the 14 metre infinity pool, a Jacuzzi, a sauna, and a steam room. We used all of these areas and it was great, all were clean and well maintained and for somewhere with so much water everything was amazingly dry. The pool was cold but not too cold and the water was a lovely green colour, it was sparklingly clear and at the end of the pool there was a full wall sized mosaic of orchids, very pretty. There were a number of showers so you could shower between using different facilities. The spa also has a relaxation and treatment area but unfortunately I did not get to use these on this trip, but I will definitely be back to test them out. There is also a fitness area in the hotel where you can use gym equipment, but again I did not try these out.
After our strenuous activity in the spa we made our way back to our room and got dressed for breakfast. Breakfast was served in the Catalina restaurant, where we had our evening meal, however this time the meal was self-service, although if you wanted certain cooked breakfasts you ordered from the waiting staff. A waiter showed us to a table, a seat beside the window where we could look out on the lake with snow all around, stunning, we were given a glass of fruit juice and then the waiter explained about the breakfast service and took our tea and coffee order. W e both had fruit followed by cereal, and then we had a full cooked breakfast. There was an extensive range of goodies for the breakfast, I had sausages, and bacon, potato bread, mushrooms and scrambled egg, and my husband had the same with the addition of tomatoes and black and white puddings. We ate our breakfast at our leisure, there was no-one trying to hurry us up or usher us out, the waiter brought us toast and we drank our coffee and tea with lovely hot buttered toast.
After breakfast we went for a walk in the grounds, it was very cold with snow but the scenery is stunning. Fermanagh is truly the gateway to the west of Ireland and I would totally recommend to anyone to visit the area. After our walk we returned to our room and got ourselves ready to leave, my husband had given an imprint of his credit card when we arrived so we checked the itemised bill at reception and he paid with his card. Everything on the bill was correct so we left after a thoroughly enjoyable night of luxury. I really enjoyed the food and the facilities and the surrounding areas are stunning. Whether you want to play golf or use the Resort as a base to explore Ireland it is definitely well worth a stay at the Lough Erne Golf Resort and Spa. I have only given a flavour of the Resort and its facilities but I don't think you would be disappointed with a stay here.
I am sorry if I have rambled on but there is a lot to experience and there is so much more that could be said.
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Five star resort offering luxurious rooms, a fine dining restaurant, a relaxing bar, a Thai spa and, of course, beautiful greens for the golfers.