As part of my new review series, I will be reviewing establishments looking at overall baby friendliness – is that even a term? Well, it is now! My first review is the Parknasilla Resort review looking at how baby friendly and family friendly it is.
This resort is located 3km outside the village of Sneem on the Ring of Kerry and the Wild Atlantic Way. The hotel looks right out onto the sea. As far as locations go, it’s right up there and just stunning. We arrived on a Friday evening and it was windy and wild outside. We went into the hotel to see where our house was and have some food. The hotel was lovely and warm with big open fires in different rooms. The staff were lovely, in fact standards were high with every member of staff we came across over the entire week. We were staying in one of the 3 bedroom Woodland Villas which is a short drive from the hotel but within the hotel grounds – you can walk across lighted paths in about 10 minutes. There are also 2 bedroom houses available nearer to the hotel.
I can’t comment on the hotel rooms but if they are anywhere near the standard of our house then any guest would be happy. We were shown to our 3 bedroom “Woodland Villa” by a lovely man called Tim. He answered all our questions and gave us lots of information about the local area. We did run into one problem where the travel cot supplied by the resort just had a thin hard mattress and all we brought was a cot sheet. Tim very kindly brought us extra towels to make it more comfy for baby.
The house itself was really warm and finished to a very high standard. Downstairs it had an open plan kitchen, dining and living area with an open fire and double doors out to a decking area with table and chairs. There was lots of space for our baby to move around. The kitchen was fitted out with a granite worktop, Neff appliances and included a dishwasher and microwave. The microwave was useful for our baby’s bottles which sterilise in it. All the plates, cutlery, mugs and oven-ware were sparkling clean. There was a high chair for baby as requested. Also downstairs – there was a double bedroom, a toilet, a washer/dryer and a store cupboard with iron, ironing board, hoover, mop and clothes horse. There was also a small supply of dishwasher tablets and detergent for the washing machine. The furniture was in perfect condition for a holiday house, the curtains were heavy and premium quality and there were beautiful lamps and artwork in all the rooms. It was like a show house you see on an interior design programme!
Upstairs there was a large master bedroom with adjoining ensuite, another double room and a bathroom with large bath and separate shower. Again, all beautifully finished. The only issue I had staying in the master bedroom was the noise from the water pump which was next door, it was like an aeroplane taking off and went on any time a tap/shower was used or a toilet was flushed and a few times during the night for good measure. As the week went on, I didn’t notice it so much after the first couple of nights and it didn’t bother the baby one bit.
The Resort – Food and Drink
I don’t even know where to start. Food and drink? Yes, food is always a major priority with me but first a drink! I was really impressed with the gin and tonic menu in the bar, I am a recent convert to this currently in vogue drink. I really enjoyed the Dingle Gin with Elderflower Tonic. There were lots and lots of options. There was also a pianist in the bar both nights we were there which, paired with the open fires, created a warm and relaxed atmosphere.
We ate in the bar on 2 occasions and in the restaurant on 1 occasion. We were lucky we had grandparents with us to look after baba on the night we ate in the restaurant but you can to bring children for the 7pm sitting. The standard of food in the bar was good, not excellent but good. Service was brilliant, there was no problem getting a high chair for baby and they even had Tommy Tippee bottle warmers which was a nice touch. We are doing baby led weaning so we tended to just give baby a bit of what we were having ourselves and staff were very good about the mess! Prices were what you would expect for a good hotel. The restaurant in the hotel was in a beautiful location, looking out over the water. Again, prices were as expected but I have to admit I was slightly disappointed at the standard of food, starters were lovely but mains of rack of lamb and duck were slightly overcooked, the taste a bit bland but presentation was good. There was a lovely wine selection. Service was excellent.
The Resort Activities
Every day in the hotel foyer, there is a display of activities on for the day even in the off peak season that we were there. There’s a wide range from guided walks, aqua aerobics, archery, golf, circuits and yoga to name a few. I signed myself and my mother up for aqua aerobics the first morning. It was great fun and a good start to the day. After we were put through our paces, we followed this with a relaxing dip in one of the outdoor hot tubs which overlook the sea, I could have easily spent the day there! The pool itself is adult only early in the morning and late in the evening. During the day, it is perfect for children and babies. Unfortunately, our baby was unwell so we didn’t get to bring him swimming. However, there were even playpens in both changing rooms to put baby safely in while parents got changed or unchanged. There were seats and deck chairs around the pool to sit with baby before or after a swim. There is also a spa but we didn’t have time in the end to make use of it – next time!
We decided to do a some of the many walks ourselves. We put baby in his carrier which was great to have as most of the trails are not buggy friendly. There are 9 mapped trails which vary in length and inclines. At reception, you can pick of a map of all the trails. We picked one of the longer ones to start with called the Heron’s Trail which took us around by the coast and brought us right back to our villa which was useful as we were exhausted. It was a stunning walk through woodlands and around small islands. The photos to the right include the Heron Trail and the Seal Trail. Over the week, we covered most of the trails and we were really lucky with the weather as you can see by the photos. I would recommend bringing good walking footwear if you plan on making the most of the trails as they are a bit wet and muddy in places. You are also climbing up and down through the woodland with tree roots and slippery stones to contend with. It’s definitely worth exploring them all though.
The Fun Trails
The highlight of the trails for me were the Fairy Trail and the Treasure Trail – big kid that I am! These are just so well done and I could imagine how young children would get so much entertainment and excitement from them. The Fairy Trail is set among the woodlands and there are specific maps available to give you a clue where to find all the fairy houses. Each little house is different as you can see by a few of them in the photos on the left and hidden in around trees along the walk. We felt like big kids finding them. The treasure trail would be ideal for children aged 5-10. It’s a simple search for letters to make up a secret word. You fill them in on the treasure trail map and leave it in to reception. They then drop a certificate to your room/house with the child’s name. So our baby got his first certificate! We did manage to get around both of these trails with the buggy but it was a struggle in parts and I was lucky it was my husband who was pushing it. The carrier would have worked better in hindsight.
The stunning village of Sneem is very near, there is a great selection of pubs and restaurants there as well as a small supermarket to buy essentials if you’re in the self catering houses. It’s less than an hour from Killarney (via a spectacular mountain drive), Kenmare or Cahersiveen (along the Ring of Kerry) depending on what direction you drive. I’d recommend visiting all three.
Overall Family Friendly Score for Parknasilla Resort 9/10 – highly recommend it!
We booked a week in a 3 bedroom Woodland Villa through a Groupon deal for €499 in total.
For booking any of the Woodland Villas resort accommodation check out Dream Ireland.
For hotel bookings and 2 bedroom house bookings see hotel website.
Disclaimer – this is not a sponsored post, it is an impartial review and all views are my own.