Clonakilty Park Hotel Review

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June 29th saw the restrictions being lifted on travel within Ireland, and we jumped at the chance to roam free (to an extent). Our destination of choice was Cork and the Clonakilty Park Hotel. The main reason we chose The Clonakilty Park Hotel was the autism friendly certification issued by Asiam. Clonakilty as a town is the first certified Autism Friendly town in Ireland.After a hectic morning, some gritted teeth and slight delay we headed off on the long road from Dublin to Cork. Calum has this thing where he’s convinced himself he gets car sick after 5 mins in a car. He doesn’t! But he convinced himself he does. But Momma to the rescue I bought some special sun glasses (€3 in Dunnes Stores), that when you wear them in a car you don’t feel sick at all hehe. And we were off!!Of course, the Fabulous Irish Weather meant nothing but torrential rain. It reminded me of Summer 2008 when we had something like 50 days of rain, including St Swithins Day!

Aside from a bit of a hairy moment when Jasmine decided she needed the loo, we had a very good journey. Of course, she’s been taught you go to the toilet and not the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, which meant she refused point blank to go. The joy that is literal interpretation.  I’ve never manifested so hard in my life, for a petrol station or anywhere that had a loo and was open!  We finally arrived in Clonakilty!!! The hotel is located a few minute walk from the main street in Clonakilty, Michael Collins house and a number of beautiful beaches including Inchydoney.

As I walked into the reception, the covid restrictions were clear to see. Clear signage spaced out. Hand sanitizer at various locations and cleaning staff in PEE. But none of this, could take away from the beautiful reception area that awaits you once through the doors. We had a very quick, efficient and friendly check in process advising us of all the current procedures and locations of the various amenities. I then went and got the troops from the car.
I carried Jasmine in and through reception to the corridor where our room was located. Bearing in mind Jasmine is classed as non verbal, she gasped and shouted out “WOW, so beautiful” as she looked around her new environment for the next few days. We got to our family room and there was great excitement as we entered. Especially when they found the very thoughtful gift left for us of a lovely bottle of wine, some fruit and a couple of chocolate brownies.

We were able to choose our room configuration, we chose 2 doubles and a single over a double and 3 singles. I knew full well they’d all be in my bed as I cling on for dear life to the edge. The room was light, bright and quite large and the beds were everything you expect from a hotel bed. Big, comfy and once you lay down you did’t want to get up. Over the course of the 4 days, not once did we feel confined or on top of each other, even with 5 of us!
That evening we ate in the hotel restaurant. Just like the reception area, the restaurant and bar area were recently renovated and are very impressive. They’re modern, classy and bright. The restaurant is a mixture of standard tables and large circular booths which are great for larger families. The kids menu is a buffet of the usual options goujons, chips, pizza, plain pasta, pasta sauce and some veggies, mash etc. The adults menu is a la carte. When the adults arrived it looked fantastic but a little bland for our tastes if Im honest. It was nice, don’t get me wrong but at almost €20 a main course I expect better than nice. I did speak to a number of other guests and casually asked about their thoughts on the food. They were all happy and impressed. So either we’re just food snobs or we picked the wrong dishes that night. Breakfast was a much better experience and was a great way to set you up for the day ahead.

The facilities in the Clonakilty Park are amazing. There is a self contained playground with a giant ship in the centre, complete with slide, baby and child swings, a punch bag and lots of levels and hide outs. The kids had endless fun, even the rain didn’t bother them they loved it so much. The pool is large with plenty of space for both family fun and lane swimming. As well as, a great separate toddler pool. There are steps leading into the pool for anyone with mobility issues. One aspect I loved, which I think alot more places could adopt, was the safety gate which led to the changing room. So if you’re getting ready and have an eager beaver they can’t get too far.

The Clonakilty Park also has an indoor play centre which was a God send on a rainy day. There is a toddler area in addition to the 3 level section with a large twisty slide for children over 4. They also have not forgotten the teenagers. There is a games room with pool table and various games consoles, for the adventurous there is an outdoor arial adventure park and a soon to be opened mini golf course. There really is something for everyone of every interest. I’ll also add the wifi is fantastic within the hotel, something we weren’t expecting.
The fun doesn’t stop there either! The Clonakilty Park even has their own on-site cinema showing some of the top rated movies. There is usually evening entertainment in the form of family nights with kids disco, however, due to covid restrictions these could not go ahead during our visit. But, they adapted to the protocols with bingo night which as numbers grew the fantastic entertainer adapted and added in a few quizzes too. All the kids, big and small had great fun.

The accommodation at the Clonakilty Park ranges from the hotel itself consisting of double, family and interconnecting rooms, to houses and 2 bedroomed apartments onsite. We quickly learned at bedtime our kids are at an awkward age, keeping each other awake and messing, so we will be definitely booking an apartment next year when we return.

Every staff member in the hotel as under gone a training program on autism created and issued by Asiam. I was assured that any new staff for this season will have it completed, if they haven’t already within the next week or so. Some of the other adaptions are;
Visuals• A sensory map denoting areas of high and low intensity and where specific “triggers” may be• All staff wear name badges• Aquariums were incorporated into the refurbishment design in the lobby and leisure centre Communication• For children joining the kids club or arriving to the hotel they are provided an “All About Me” document which enables the person or their parents to outline their specific needs and communication preferences prior to arriving at the hotel Predictability & Control• A number of social stories were developed for the hotel complex: staying in the hotel, coming for dinner, attending kids club, going to the pool and staying in the apartments – these are available from reception•A “Sensory Box” which would allow autistic customers to moderate their sensory experience.
To avail of any of these just contact the hotel prior to arrival or speak to the reception staff upon arrival.

At breakfast, Jasmine would often sing or shout loudly, not one member of staff even batted an eyelid. In fact one even sang along with her and Saoirse at one stage. I have to say, every single member of staff we encountered were fantastic. There was not one grumpy or sad face. Everyone was genuinely happy to help and always had a smile on their face. When we were packing up to leave Jasmine looked and said “I don’t want to go home”, again coming from her this is a major thing in general, but it speaks even louder to show the experience she had while staying at The Clonakilty Park. We will definitely be back again next year, and would recommend the hotel to any family travelling with a member who is autistic.


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