Home & Away with Robert Walshe Consumers love it and the travel industry loathe it but according to review site Trip Advisor they are featuring 50% more reviews than a year ago and the number of registered users has rocketed to 32m, up from 20m this time last year. The rate of contributions has doubled in the past year, rising from 25 to 50 per minute, said Trip Advisor, which now claims to be the largest travel site in the world. It claims it has 56m visitors a month, features more than 610,000 hotels, 880,000 restaurants and 200,000 attractions, a total increase of 50% over a year ago. www.tripadvisor.com Meanwhile airlines earned a record amount from the sale of ancillary services such as accommodation, car hire, check-in luggage and co-branded credit cards last year. IdeaWorksCompany for Amadeus showed that ancillary revenue grew to €18.23 billion in 2011, and was up 66% over 2009. The figures relate to revenue earned by the 50 airlines (of 108 researched) that disclosed some type of ancillary revenue activity in 2011.
Weekend Hotspot – Ardtara Co Derry – www.ardtara.com
Ardtara Country House Hotel is the most charming 19th
century house, located in the village of Upperlands in South Co Derry. It was built as a family home by linen producer Harry Jackson Clark during the reign of Queen Victoria and now accommodates visitors in the comfort and style of a bygone era - with all modern conveniences. As well as the Clarks, there was one other local family of note which made a modest living during the early 1700s by finishing and bleaching linen: Charles Thompson became one of America’s Founding Fathers, a Philadelphia revolutionary who penned the first draft of the Declaration of Independence. He spent the first nine years at Gorteade Cottage close to Ardtara. Fast forward to more recent decades Ardtara was meticulously restored in 1990 by owner Northern Irish American & former NITB US executive Maebeth Fenton. Having furnished the property with antiques she collected over the years, Ardtara is now a visitor experience offering an opportunity to step back in time and savor many elegant vintage architectural touches such as the dark wood paneling, original fireplaces and high ceilings. In recent years Maebeth sold the property to an
r at Ardtara Ho
n Seafood Starte
n Ardtara Country
American golf enthusiast but remains involved with the new owners and looks after all the marketing and promotions for what has to be one of Northern Irelands finest stately homes. There are eight luxurious bedrooms, all are en-suite but each one is individually styled, offering everything from deluxe king-size beds to panoramic views across the extensive eight acres of grounds and the nearby River Bann with game and coarse fishing including salmon, trout and pike. The dining room is decorated with a unique hunting frieze, and is illuminated by a large glass skylight. The menu here features all of the best and freshest local produce with favourites including Irish Sea Bass, local vegetables and potatoes, home baked breads and a range of Irish, Welsh and other cheeses which are pure country house cooking that perfectly reflects ‘The legendary taste of Ulster.’ Ardtara can seat 80 people in their large dining area and bright airy conservatory operating a one wedding policy only with a marquee option in the grounds if required. Sitting on the crossroads of mid Ulster every tourist attraction from Belfast to the coast – and all airports are within a 15-60 minutes drive. The nearby Giant’s Causeway
Heritage Site is ranked as Northern Ireland’s number one tourist attraction. Its here that Irish n Ardtara Country House lounge storytellers . proclaim that the massive stones are actually the remnants of a causeway course, a wee drop or two built by the mythical giant, at the tour’s conclusion. For Finn McCool. Down the road golf enthusiasts you must inCarrick- a- Rede rope-bridge clude the world-class Royal is a mandatory stop along Portrush Golf Course home the Antrim Coast trail—even of the recent Irish Open. if you are scared of heights Bestowed the Automobile and wouldn’t dare venture Association’s coveted Most across the rope bridge. Mind Romantic award, the warmth you if you are in need of of home is the overarching some Dutch courage just two feeling here—It’s like staying miles away is the historic dis- in a friend’s private estate tillery & town of Bushmills house. Ardtara was among famous for its whiskey offer- the select few to be included ing daily tours, including, of in National Geographic Trav-
to play they often come in mucky and smelly. They are cleaned up or dried off and then life goes on. Nobody dies of a disease. If an animal gets mucky or dirty when playing outside, or during a walk, then owners take them in and clean them or dry them off. Children (and some grown ups) pick their nose, eat their “noots” and poke their behind, then they open a loaf and make a sandwich for themselves. People are not as clean as they make out and they don’t tell you about it, but we seldom get diseases from being in other people’s houses or from contact with unhygienic people.
eller Magazine’s 2010 list of Best Places to Stay in Britain and Ireland and realising Manager Valerie Pearson’s passion - I can see why! www. ardtara.com Robert Walshe is a freelance contributor / broadcaster and Travel Editor for River Media newspaper titles across the island of Ireland. www.robertwalshe.com
Weekly Best Buy The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt, has launched a new overnight spa package for the summer months, a great value reason to stay overnight at the luxury resort, whilst enjoying some well deserved spa treatments with a friend or loved one. The retreat package starting from €370 per room per night includes: overnight accommodation and breakfast for two people in the restaurant overlooking the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Extend your day in the spa by making use of the spa facilities including
with Kathleen Murray
Animal Hygiene “Hygiene” and “Animals” are two words that many people will not put together. That’s sad because animals are hygienic in their own way. When it comes to dogs and cats there are many people that will not let them inside the house because they think that animals are dirty. These animals are made up of flesh and blood and hair, just like us. They eat, sleep and play in different areas just like us… so then why are they considered so dirty? People that raise animals and children in the house together often think that the kids are dirtier than the animals. When children go out
House Hotel Co
A lot of the “dirt” that we encounter is normal and important dirt. It is part of who we are and it helps to boost our immune system. There is a reasonable level though, as with all things. When children go outside to play with a dog the mother often makes them wash their hands when they come in. This is a good and healthy practice especially before eating. Unfortunately for the very hygienic mum the kids don’t always do this and often come back in and touch everything around the house in the course of their normal day. Mum is also touching these things but she is not getting a disease. Dog hair is often shouted about. We lose hair ourselves. You only have to look at hairbrushes to see this. They have to be cleaned otherwise they’d be clogged up. This hair goes on everything from cush-
ions and pillows to carpets and our clothes. Nobody shouts about that. Dog hair is not dirty. It’s just hair like ours. If it’s brushed it will stay clean and although it may need a wash occasionally it is not hard to maintain. The people that have problems here are people with carpets or mats that don’t go in the washing machine. A quick hoover over a hard floor gets rid of any hair. It’s not a big deal. A dog should be brushed out well a few times a week to keep the hair in good shape. We have to do ours every day… much more hassle. If a dog is maintained properly there should be no hygiene problems to worry about. Animals are good for our health so don’t be afraid of them. If they were so bad then farmers, vets, animals trainers, groomers etc would all be dead long ago.
swimming pool, thermal suites and hot pools and you can choose two 50 min ESPA treatments including an aromatherapy massage, Swedish massage or personalised facial. You can escape to the peaceful, rejuvenating solitude of ESPA at Powerscourt which features 20 treatment rooms, including one private Spa Suite, a 20-meter Swarovskicrystal-lit pool, Hamam Suite, exercise room and a state-of-the-art thermal suite. .www. ritzcarlton.com/powerscourt