How to get there:
N70 from Kenmare – Estate entrance after Tahilla just before Sneem Village
I love Parknasilla so much I always insist we set off a day early, and break the journey, because I like to make my grand entrance in top form and not lose out on a minute of my stay there. We stay reasonably close and drive then through Cahirciveen, around the Ring of Kerry, revelling in just being alive and able to enjoy that spectacular scenery. One year we stayed in Glenbeigh and, brave souls that we were, drove from Caragh Lake out over the McGillicuddy Reeks, past mountainy goats on hair-raising roads, emerging down close to Sneem. A great experience but not for the faint hearted!
The Parknasilla Hotel is a legend in itself. A truly original Resort Hotel, set on 500 acres of lush tropical parkland overlooking Kenmare Bay, with miles of walks between ferns and fuchsias, rock and rhododendrons, a private Golf Course, Archery and Clay Pigeon Shooting, boat rides around the bay….. A bastion of neo Gothic Victorian splendour, this was originally a Railway Hotel. In the old days guests were conveyed from Kenmare Station by pony and trap. I met one old lady, holding court by the fire in the hall after dinner one evening, who had been coming from England for over 50 years religiously, for 19 nights with 19 different ballgowns! Everybody has been here from Princess Grace to General De Gaulle to George Bernard Shaw who described it as “part of our dream world”.
The Estate was sold two years ago and is now part of the New Great Southern Hotel Group who have ploughed millions into Parknasilla, updating it with considerable style and panache with lavish gorgeous fabrics and furnishings. They have also built fabulous 2 bedroom Courtyard Garden Suites for those who want a little more space, and 3 bedroomed Villas in the grounds. There is a fabulous Spa with 13 treatment rooms having every comfort and treatment, including a Thermal Spa incorporating a mix of wet and dry, warm, hot and cold cabins and equipment all created individually for Parknasilla.
Up the sweeping staircase, past the stained glass window takes you to the beautifully luxurious bedrooms and suites – the Princess Grace Suite being the absolute ultimate with its large private balcony overlooking the ocean.
Food too has had a major shake up bringing it right up to date and dinner in The Pygmalion Restaurant, a magnificent room with the most splendid Victorian features and ceilings, is an event. The food is cracking using the very best of local seafood, Kerry lamb, and other delicious seasonal produce and the buzz and atmosphere in this great room is terrific before people repair to the Doolittle bar for real craic and fun – casual food is served here from noon to 5 p.m.
This is a place where memories are made. This was certainly true for me and my family and we treasure the summers we spent, and still spend, at Parknasilla Resort – you will too.
It is a world of its own.