A River Retreat

As I said last weekend “every birthday is a special one” when making reference about my Mum’s birthday just past. And so it is! If truth be told I don’t actually need much of an excuse of an occasion for there to be a celebration arranged. However with Mum turning another year older it was the perfect reason as to why we should all get together and make it very special for her. When we asked Mum what she wanted or what she would like to do, afternoon tea was quickly mentioned as something she would enjoy. This year however we thought we would try a little overnight stay along with it and make the most of the time we had together.

Having been along to the Galgorm Resort and Spa on previous occasions for dinner reservations, guests at weddings and also to celebrate my own hen weekend we knew it was a venue of excellent reputation, and one that excels in its customer service. Being able to get away for a break like this does not happen too often these days, as each of our lives are very busy and much organisation has to go into planning for babysitters and ensure everything is being taken care of in our absence. So with plans made and arrangements in place our visit was not long in coming about.



Whenever you are made feel as though you are the most important guest staying immediately upon arrival until you check out; it does make you feel incredibly special. I would believe this sentiment is echoed with every resident that visits and perhaps that is why this Premier Luxury Hotel boasts so many prestigious awards and certificates of excellence. Staying in one of the Deluxe Two Bedroom Family Suites which was able to accommodate the four of us, being wheelchair accessible for Mum on the ground floor with her mobility much restricted now; it was spacious, and located perfectly for the nearby Thermal Village & Spa, Gillies Grill Restaurant, River Room Restaurant and Afternoon Tea.

The furnishings of our room was styled with rich and luxurious threads of fresh white, burgundy, forest green, tartan with accompanying areas of seated leather and circular glass. The bathroom decor had a stylish contrast of wood and marble, accompanied by white units, mosaic tiling, mirroring and Holywood glamour lighting. With each of us sharing an interest in interior design and decor, we appreciate great taste and certainly felt the benefits to living in luxury. It makes a lovely change for me not having to negotiate another ironing pile or having to share my bed with three little ones. Being able to get away, relax, unwind and not have to worry about another thing was just lovely.

For me to come out and say “I would never have long enough”, I really mean what I say. On the occasion of my hen weekend back in February 2008, was when the spa at Galgorm first opened. Back then, nine years previous it was so idyllic sitting out in the hot tub with snow lying all around and feeling as if you were in a faraway place, much further than that of County Antrim. However now with the extensive developments there have been with the new Thermal Village and Spa it is simply amazing. I can understand why on the website it refers to it as ‘One of the World Leading Spa Destinations’, the ultimate in luxury relaxation. Although Mum is not one to be easily persuaded into doing something that she does not wish to do, I think we would not have to try too hard the next time we visit in letting her sample of what all there is on offer. With the service option of assist aids to allow those with disabilities or mobility concerns to access the different pools and tubs we know there is the option available should someone so wish to do so. Mum did however enjoy quiet relaxing time both by the indoor pool listening to the dulcet tones and in the picturesque setting of the Orangery lying back on the relax beds. Oh how I wish I was back on the swing chair right now in my own tranquil space of pure comfort. Aaagh!!!

With the remainder of the evening spent enjoying our dining at Gillies Restaurant entertained by a neighbouring dotty hen party, listening to music nearby from Gillies Pub and having a good laugh and chat with family; we retired to the Galgorm Conservatory which at that point in the evening plays host to the Resort Cocktail & Gin bar entertained this time with smooth velvet tones of a swing singer. Intrigued by the vast display and current popularity, some of us did taste a sample from the extensive gin selection and put a cap on a most enjoyable and entertaining evening.


Awakening early and wanting to ensure every moment was enjoyed we took an early morning stroll down by the River Maine taking a moment to appreciate the stunning backdrop of nature that flows alongside the estate and listen to the strong and ferocious currents of water. Breathtaking is to say the least. It is wonderful that such natural beauty can remain untouched to be enjoyed. We continued to enjoy such a scene over our relaxing breakfast eaten in the River Room which I would say encompasses the Galgorm Resort and pays homage to the canvas that they started from. Really appreciating and being thankful to sit in such a luxurious setting and be served as oppose to serve was such a joy. Other busy Mums of little ones can resonate with me as to how much this means when it is so far from the throws of normal day living. Although perhaps squeezing in more than time allowed we returned to the Thermal Village for more of the same as much as time would allow. It is quite surreal really when lowering yourself as far as possible into the heated pools only allowing your head to be subject to the bitter winds and rain that fell that morning. Watching outside hotel staff move around the grounds clad in top to toe waterproof thermal wear and here we are swimwear clothed enjoying all the outside amenities and being subject to the weather elements we are very sure those very staff may have thought we were crazy or perhaps they would have been doing the very same themselves. Too good not to miss!

To allow us to have a memorable finale to our stay and satisfy Mum’s request for her birthday of Traditional Afternoon Tea we sat in the magnificent glass River Room Conservatory in the company of family spending time catching up and reminiscing. Having to select from Mr Jones Loose Leaf Herbal Tea Menu I chose the ‘Instant Karma’ which is an organic spice variety containing traditional spices from India such as cinnamon, liquorice, ginger, aniseed, and cardamom to name several. The flavour was so smooth and warm; it made me think of Jo Malone perfume Mimosa & Cardamom which I loved recently and also flagged up special memories from my time spent in India. Always being one to enjoy reminiscing and recalling events I enjoy having memories triggered from moments like this. We were exceptionally well looked after with our selection of finely cut sandwiches, miniature savouries, freshly baked scones and delicate miniature desserts and the taste was exquisite. With an added touch of a birthday cupcake and candle presented to Mum, alongside a card and chocolates on arrival, it is these small details that mean the most. For our very special Mum she was made to feel very special and deservedly so. They claim for it to be a luxurious and elegant experience and that is exactly what it is. If you have never been, you must go, you will not be disappointed, and you will be looking to plan your next trip just like we are.



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