Your Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wedding - August/September 2023 (Issue 102)

While Northern Ireland might not be the first place you think of when planning a mini-moon, having spent two nights at the incredible Galgorm Resort near Ballymena, CWM deputy managing editor Kelly Andrews is here to change that! Northern Ireland’s premier luxury hotel and spa, located just 30 minutes from Belfast, offers the ultimate haven of relaxation. Set within 380 acres of parkland with the sometimes rushing, sometimes babbling River Maine running through it, Galgorm’s enviable location truly provides an escape from the real world. A SPOT OF R&R The jewel in Galgorm’s crown is the Thermal Spa Village, which I’d go so far as to say is unique, as I can honestly say I’ve never encountered its like. So vast is it that you need a map to orientate yourself! It’s fortunate indeed then that it has it’s own app containing just that, plus all the info you could possibly need during your stay. My accommodation was a mere two-minute walk to the entrance, so I was up bright and early, donned the robe and flip flops provided, and was off to investigate. Despite the flight from Stansted the previous day being one of the most stressful in recent memory, I could already feel the tension melt away as I strolled alongside the River nodding a cheerful, “good morning,” to fellow guests as I went. If your experience of a spa is a pool, Jacuzzi, steam room and a sauna, maybe a hot tub if you’re really lucky, you’ll be swept off your feet by the Thermal Village! Mainly based in the open air it features a Wonderland of treats to explore and experience around every corner. I happened upon the Riverside Garden first; home to outdoor pools, hot tubs, The Salt Cave, a cafe and the Celtic Sauna. In some of the Resort’s packages you’ll receive a complementary 10-minute Celtic Sauna Infusion here, which was the case with my shepherd’s hut accommodation. So naturally, I wasted no time! We were shown into the sauna by our sauna master, where I was pleasantly surprised to find a floor-to-ceiling window along one side acting as a frame for the stunning, tranquil landscape beyond. It occurred to me that what this place does so well is allow nature to do its thing in providing all the beauty and relaxation anyone could wish for. The landscape is part of the experience, not just a mere sideline, but I digress... This treatment is a traditional Aufghuss ceremony consisting of three balls of ice being thrown onto hot coals, each one containing essential oils to benefit the body in a different way (breathing, circulation and skin) with each temperature more intense than the last. The air was circulated by the sauna master who used a towel to push the aromas towards us in the mesmerising, dance-like movements characteristic of the ceremony. As Celtic music played softly in the background, it was easy to drift away. When the ritual was over, we were escorted to the firepit area, where we were served a cool and refreshing watermelon punch to bring the body temperature back down. As I continued my explorations, I came across The Walled Garden and couldn’t resist stopping for a cocktail in The Palm House, where I was able to recline and take in the views of the beautifully manicured gardens. Soon though, it was time for my private Riverside Bathing Experience. From reception, charming host Kenneth showed me the way to Birch, my very own secluded hot tub for the hour. The water is heated by log burner to 39 degrees, and the comforting smell of the wood burning only adds to the experience. A glass of prosecco waited for me and I was able to order more drinks using the QR code provided, which would be served tubside. All of my senses were engaged as I listened to the calming music and the sounds of the flowing river, sipped on my prosecco, enjoyed the smell of the wood smoke, and felt the warm water relax my muscles – this was the life! The Thermal Village is actually open until 9pm, but by 6pm it was HAVEN A Celtic Peace and tranquillity awaits honeymooners at Galgorm in Northern Ireland Scan to view video 90