The invitation was to review the luxurious OSKIA Signature facial and massage at one of Ireland’s most famous destination hotels
Making my way slowly up the winding driveway of Dromoland Castle, I told myself to manage my expectations. Had I been dreaming about this place ever since I did a day trip here with my cousins, aged 11? Sure. Was I excited about being given the chance to stay the night and experience an exclusive treatment in its brand new spa? To put it mildly, yes. But I was determined to remain calm and review everything with professional detachment and objectivity.
That lasted about an hour. What followed was a blissful evening, kicking off with a walk around the Walled Garden, cocktails and nibbles, a conversational overview of the castle’s fascinating history, an exquisite dinner in the Earl of Thomand restaurant and a bath before bed with luxury OSKIA moon salts.
The story behind OSKIA Bio-Nutritional Skincare
That’s what I was there to learn more about – OSKIA, an award-winning British skincare brand, which has become the latest addition to the Castle Spa at Dromoland. Over dinner, we found out the remarkable story of how the creator, Georgie Cleeves, came to start the brand. She launched it with the concept of nutritional skincare after witnessing first-hand the skincare benefits of MSM, more commonly known as the ‘Beauty Mineral’.
Georgie was initially introduced to MSM by her father (who first pioneered its use as a joint supplement for race horses). He suggested she use it to repair serious cartilage damage in her own knees caused by a skiing accident at a young age. The response was phenomenal, not just to her joints but even more surprisingly, to her skin. She noticed a major improvement in the symptoms of her acne, eczema and generally poor skin, together with striking benefits to her complexion and the condition of her hair and nails.
Following a career as a food journalist, she began a journey through dermatology, physiology, therapist training and years of extensive research into a nutritional approach to skincare, before finally launching OSKIA in 2009.
The Castle Spa
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, I made my way to the newly-refurbished Castle Spa and was given what I can only describe as a designer robe for my treatment. The entire look and feel of the refurbishment was inspired by Lady Ethel Inchiquin, who supported the castle during difficult financial times and whose portrait currently hangs in the castle’s hall.
Upon entering the changing rooms, I suddenly had the feeling that I was looking out of a plane window during an early morning flight. The walls were completely covered in peach-hued tiles with white marbling making it look like the clouds at sunrise. It was, honestly, magical. Apart from its ethereal beauty however, the room was also wildly practical. As well as changing and shower facilities, it had two Dyson hairdryers (with optional attachments), and a drawer with everything you may need from a brush and hair bobbles, dry shampoo and sanitary products to deodorant and perfume. In the interest of you not bringing your phone with you, either into the treatment or the relaxation room afterwards, there is a charging base in each locker so your phone can recharge while you do. They’ve thought of everything.
Then it was time for the main event – a two-hour luxurious face and body treatment combining OSKIA’s radiance boosting and anti-ageing facial with the very best firm pressure massage to renew your complexion and sense of wellbeing. Thanks to a form I had filled out prior to going in, Michelle, my beauty therapist, knew not only the level of pressure I wanted in my massage, but also that I wanted to listen to classical music rather than nature sounds and that I wanted to be lightly covered rather than cosily cocooned! (To be fair, all the options sounded delightful but I had to make a choice.)
The treatment was wonderful. OSKIA uses anti-aging techniques to illuminate the skin to leave face, body and mind feeling rejuvenated and the skin brighter, hydrated and toned. The MSM (Beauty Mineral) in the products boosts collagen production, promotes circulation and helps decrease inflammation for a brighter, younger looking complexion. And it certainly did that. I have combination skin and I had noticed recently that makeup just seemed to be sinking into my face and that I was left with a very oily T-zone within a few hours. After this treatment, my face felt more balanced and hydrated than it had in a long time. Afterwards, I didn’t put on a scrap of makeup – apart from some mascara and lip balm and I felt utterly confident in my skin.
In the second part of the treatment, as Michelle worked out the knots in my shoulders and used the Rose de Mai Skin Soothing Massage Candle to hydrate and pamper my skin, I felt all the tension seep from my body and let my limbs go completely loose. After checking in with me once to ensure the pressure was okay for me, she continued in silence, allowing me to drift in and out of a blissful haze of wellbeing.
The Whisper Room
After a quick trip to the bathroom, I was brought to The Whisper Room and, once again, I was astonished at the level of attention and care that had gone into every detail. The day bed reclined and had a massage function – both of which could be altered to my liking via a remote control. From the beverage options, I chose a fruit-flavoured iced tea that was tart and refreshing.
While I drank it, I listened to the guided meditation, exclusive to Dromoland Castle, taking me through the Walled Garden set beautifully to vocals by the O’Neill sisters. If meditation isn’t your thing, there are also magazines and adult colouring books to while away some time in this tranquil oasis. Phone, shmone – I could have stayed there all day.
Once I was showered and dressed, I returned my beautiful Lady Ethel-inspired robe and made a quick detour to the Castle boutique, Charlotte & Co., before lunch. It’s chock-full of incredible Irish brands like Begley and Bowie, My Name is Ted, Colin Burke and Cleo Prickett. After a delicious lunch, I hit the road home, relaxed, replenished and resolute in my opinion that Dromoland Castle was even better than I remembered.
For the massage:
Rose du Mai Candle – Light the wick and once melted the oils and waxes blend. It can be used as a face mask, massage oil, hair conditioner or as a candle.
For the facial:
Renaissance Cleansing Gel
Micro Exfoliating Balm
Eye wonder – Nutri active Eye Serum
Isotonic Hydra Serum
Renaissance 360 – Anti-aging and Brightening Supreme cream
These products are available to buy here.
Spending €360 on a facial and massage is not going to be in everyone’s budget but the OSKIA signature treatment at Dromoland Castle is very clearly a luxury experience, a one-off that should be relished and appreciated for how it makes you feel.
I could probably count on my hands the amount of times I’ve had a massage or facial in my life so I understand how it might seem like a stretch too far for some people. However, there are less expensive options available (the Indulgent Escape facial is €180, for example) and I believe it’s worth it for the overall experience of the spa and the exceptional quality and scientific research that has gone into the products used in the treatment.
The Dromoland OSKIA Signature treatment is 120min and costs €360. See dromoland.ie for more details.