20 hours on the set of Dirty Dancing (but in Ireland)
I don't know what kind of enormous idiot I am, but it had never occurred to me – despite saying the words "Lusty Beg Island" over and over and over again – that Lusty Beg Island resort and spa was located on an actual island. It wasn't until we stopped the car, 3 feet from the edge of Lough Erne, having driven through the little posts and past the sign that said "stop here to call ferry", that it dawned on me. Still, better late than never etc.
It was to be a short stay at Lusty Beg – driving on Saturday for dinner and a sleepover, and back on Sunday, after breakfast and a mini spa treatment at the Island Spa. However, a vast underestimation of the journey time meant that it was even shorter than planned – due to, shall we say, inclement weather conditions, we arrived in pitch darkness at 6.30pm and, terrified of a repeat performance, high-tailed it the next day at midday.
As whistlestop tours go, though, this one was a doozy. Rusty Beg is located about 15 minutes' drive from Kesh, in Co Fermanagh (in Northern Ireland, incidentally – gosh but we really should have done our research), and accessed via two-car ferry (a very loud, but entertaining five-minute journey). It's essentially a self-contained village – restaurant, bar, more activities than you could shake a bow and arrow at, and a variety of accommodation options, from B&B to self-catering.
We stayed in the Heron Suite, a self-catering chalet with a private veranda overlooking Lough Erne (a discovery made early Sunday morning). These wooden cabins are gorgeous – super-cute and cosy, and seriously reminiscent of Kellerman's Resort, the summer holiday camp in which Baby most certainly did not get put in a corner*.
It's a testament to how welcoming and rustic Lusty Beg is that the serious downpours we arrived in – and then trudged over to the restaurant in – didn't put us off the place. Dinner was a kind of no-frills affair; the restaurant is off the bar, so you're facing a mixture of restaurant music and bar whooping, but incredibly friendly and welcoming (but not overbearing) staff made up for it, as did the delicious dinner. (Being on a somewhat restricted food regimen, I had lamb – no sauce – and vegetables; himself had steak and chips, because he hates me.)
That night, we did what any middle-aged pair would do – we had baths. I had embraced my inner Aisling and, always one to take advantage of a hotel bath, had brought two bath bombs from Lush along for the drive. The bath was incredible: super deep, and the water incredibly hot. What can I say? I'm a geriatric, and a good bath goes a long way.
The next day, breakfast was back across the way in the main hotel building – a full Irish with as much tea and coffee as we could muster – before we sauntered over to the Island Spa for mini treatments by Voya. Mine was a mini facial, which started with a foot cleanse and concluded with gentle limb stretching, which sounds weird but was incredibly relaxing. My skin was glowing afterwards – and, in fact, I think it still is, the following day.
Voya, as an aside, is a Sligo-based brand whose ingredients are based on the seaweed harvested in Strandhill; it's an incredibly effective range of skincare products with a family heritage that's 100 percent worth buying into.
We took an hour or so to wander around the grounds before we returned, and spotted signs of the myriad activities available to visitors of the island: clay pigeon shooting, kayaking, archery and off-roading are all available, with prices starting at £80 per person for four activities, which seems pretty reasonable.
When we headed off on our way, it was with a serious determination to return – I reckon Lusty Beg could be the perfect location for a weekend away with a group of friends, sharing a six-person cabin, having a relaxed, delicious dinner and throwing some activities in the mix for good measure. A la Arnie, I'll definitely be back.
*Well, she kind of did, but only for a second.