Passion Points: Family
Inishturkbeg, a private island on the western coast of Ireland (next stop: America), is a labor of love. Formerly an undeveloped, 65-acre isle in the scenic Clew Bay, it was transformed into a stylish—albeit remote—hideaway by a London -based couple who fell in love with the simple rustic pleasures of this part of the world. The owners, Nadim Sadek (who is half-Egyptian, half Irish) and his wife, Sandra, had always dreamed of a place by the sea and discovered Inishturkbeg when celebrating Nadim’s 40th birthday with a picnic on the island (then owned by a Dutch couple and with no roads, jetty or infrastructure to speak of). “The notion of an island was so seductive,” remembers Sadek. “I was beguiled immediately.” (One of Sadek’s daughters even found a bottle with a note in it that had washed up on the shore.)
This summer, after six years and a major investment, Inishturkbeg opened as a private estate, whose spacious, beautifully designed houses can be rented by groups and families who take over the entire property. I arrived on the island harried as usual by my non-stop London life only to emerge centered, calm and recharged after a few days, and that was without any yoga, spa treatments or pharmaceutical aids (though the first two are available on island upon request). What makes a stay at Inishturkbeg so special is the fact that it’s heart it is clearly a beloved family home with the countless personal touches you find only in a private residence. My master bathroom had wind chimes that sang in the breeze; my living room was stocked with great DVDs and a well-edited selection of vacation reads; and the unobtrusive staff seemed more like friends by the end of my visit.
There are four houses, named Island (an eight-bedroom mansion), Reek (a two-bedroom), Yard (a two-bedroom) and Pavillion (a three-bedroom), and each is free-standing and feels very private. They all have an open-plan design scheme, modern furnishings and the haute amenities you would expect from a luxury resort (flatscreen televisions, nicely appointed kitchens, laundry rooms). Pavilion, which is the only house right on the sea, comes with an incredible outdoor Jacuzzi with sweeping views (all the houses have stunning vistas of the unspoiled surroundings). There is no official restaurant on the island, but different chefs are brought in from the mainland to prepare, seasonal meals for Inishturkbeg’s guests or you can take the ten-minute boat-ride for dinner in nearby Westport. (An example of Inishturkbeg’s quirky lingo: when islanders venture to Westport, they are “going to the cupboard.”) Much of what you eat comes from the island’s free-range farm, which has chicken, Kerry cattle and over one-hundred sheep, as well as fruit, vegetable and herb gardens.
During my stay, days began with laps to the music of Mozart that provided the soundtrack in the gorgeous indoor swimming pool. Daytime activities included boating, kayaking, clay-pigeon shooting and lots of quiet time, reading and enjoying the Irish vistas. The views of scattered islands running towards the endless horizon and the presence of the large, looming sky inspire every activity. “We do quite a lot of gazing,” says Nadim. In the evenings, the group of guests feasted on delicious local seafood (mussels, crab, salmon), juicy tomatoes from the greenhouse and homemade blackberry apple crumble. On most nights, I didn’t have the energy to read a single page of my book but it was a good kind of tired, the type where you fall asleep just as the pillow cradles your head. Inishturkbeg can sleep up to thirty-six adults. The entire island rents from €9,000 per night.
GETTING THERE: The closest airport is western Ireland’s Knock Airport, which has flights from London Gatwick, Dublin, Manchester and Glasgow.
WHO SHOULD/SHOULD NOT STAY: Outdoor enthusiasts, families and groups who want to get away from it all will love the remote settings and long list of activities. Even though the homes can be rented individually, the island is best for groups who can take it over in its entirety. It’s a great spot to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary with friends. Anyone seeking a scene and active nightlife will not be happy here.
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