The Killyhevlin Hotel in Co Fermanagh provides the perfect spot for our writer and young daughter to relax and spend some quality time together
I wish I could say my decision to take my eight-year-old daughter Maria on a short break, without my other half and son, was born out of a selfless desire to lavish her with my pure, undivided attention, but really our girls’ trip away happened more by accident than design.
Mind you, the idea of it just being us two girls, was very appealing. So too was the prospect of relinquishing my role as long-suffering referee between Maria and her little brother - they’re blowups and subsequent meltdowns can be colossal.
We were staying in the four-star Killyhevlin in Co Fermanagh. I had passed the hotel many times, but never actually stayed there, so I was curious. Its attributes include having a pool (my daughter likes to take the waters); a spa; and it’s proximity to Enniskillen’s shops and attractions, including Castle Coole and the Marble Arch Caves.
I let Maria choose how our stay would pan out and she seemed to relish the responsibility. Her wishlist: swimming pool, shopping, eating, swimming pool, swimming pool. Like mother, like daughter!
On arrival and bestowed with a warm Fermanagh welcome, the first thing that struck us were the stunning views at the back of the hotel overlooking scenic Lough Erne. Unknown by many, the unique view is added to by a bird sanctuary situated on the shores of the Lough.
There’s lovely gardens for a lakeside amble and a little play area with a shiny red train for junior rail enthusiasts. Dotted around the lakeside are chalets, offering the opportunity for a self-catering break.
Our room matched all modern expectations with humongous beds, roomy bathroom, plenty of wardrobe space, large TV, and ours had wonderful views of the show-stopping Lough.
First stop was the pool. My daughter was in heaven, as was I, nipping from sauna to bubbling Jacuzzi and outdoor hot tub. The spa boasts wonderful treatments including the delectable-sounding Elemis Frangipani Body Nourish Wrap and Elemis Lime and Ginger Salt Glow .
Before dinner we enjoyed a digestiv in the Boathouse Bar, chatting about school, playing I-spy and having a giggle. At home, I’m usually too busy with my own work and the humdrum business of everyday life to really listen for any length of time.
Maria loved our grown-up dinner à deux in the Kove Restaurant, ordering her own meal and drink. The food was spectacular; the surroundings plush. I had the French brie with apple and sultana chutney and salad, followed by silver hake with burnt onion mash and leek ragout. It was a superlative dining experience, or as Maria summed up ‘‘the bestestest’’ dinner ever. Chef Kevin Watson deserves a pat on the back for his culinary wizardry.
Next day and after a wonderful, bountiful breakfast, again served in the Kove Restaurant, we decided to check out the shops in Enniskillen’s Erneside Shopping Centre, where Maria was drawn like a moth to a flame by the neon scrunchies and cheap charm bracelets in Claire’s Accessories.
She bought a sparkly nail varnish and a necklace. It was all very girly and she loved it. So did I.
Back at the hotel, Maria had a bubble bath and ate grapes like a mini Cleopatra, before we went for dinner in Franco’s in Enniskillen.
Our girly time away was easy and relaxed, offering us a chance to spend quality time together.
And when Maria grows up, she said she wants to have her wedding reception at the Killyhevlin, but hopefully we’ll make it back before her nuptials.