The Best of Irish Country Estates: Powerscourt House and Gardens

Ireland is referred to as The Emerald Isle because of its seemingly endless expanses of verdant trees, deep woods, and rolling green hills. County Wicklow is called the Garden of Ireland, and 47 of the county’s best acres are home to the Powerscourt House and Gardens.

A long and noble history

The Powerscourt site was first settled in the 12th century, but it was not until 1299 that a castle was finally erected by the namesake Power family.

The castle and lands changed hands numerous times over the next four centuries. The Wingfield family was in possession in 1731 and built a magnificent mansion around the earlier castle structure.

The existing manor evolved through several major modifications up through the late 1800s when the house was celebrated as one of the finest in all of Ireland.

In 1974, a fire tragically destroyed the famous house. The ruins of the mansion were the only structures to be seen at the site for the next 22 years.

The grand rebuild

In 1996, the owners of the Powerscourt House began the monumental task of rebuilding the old mansion to its current state of renewed grandeur.

Artisans situated new windows exactly in pre-fire locations. The entire structure was painstakingly and lovingly restored. Every effort was made to preserve the remarkable old building’s earlier epoch.

Today, tourists visiting Ireland can enjoy the authentic and historic Powerscourt House and Gardens, a true Irish country estate that is simply awe-inspiring. The magnificent house was recently recognized as one of the top ten important houses in the world, and the gardens were voted number 3 best in the world by National Geographic.

The elegant main house overlooks kingly Italian terraced gardens, the serene Triton Lake fountain and grotto, and numerous old statuary – many dating back to the early 18th century.

An easy walk on estate grounds will take you to a Japanese garden, a horse pasture, and a centuries old pet cemetery as well as an exquisite walled flower garden.

The River Walk

Just beyond the Powerscourt house is the River Walk. A private sloping wooded trail constructed in 1867 so the landowner and his family could enjoy a carriage ride to a waterfall and the Dargle River. The waterfall is the tallest in Ireland and cascades down almost 400 feet to the river.

The road is complete with a dense forest of varietal trees originally planted for the pleasure of the 7th Viscount of Powerscourt in the 1870s. In more recent times, the woodlands have provided scenic backdrops for such popular films as Braveheart, Far and Away, Excalibur, and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Village of Enniskerry

Just a few minutes’ walk outside the Powerscourt Estate lies the charming little Victorian village of Enniskerry.

Built in the 18th century to house the tenants and caretakers who worked the estate, this classically Irish community offers tourists an opportunity to dine in local restaurants and browse a half-dozen boutique shops that line the main street.

Golf in Palmas Del Mar, Puerto Rico

With two championship golf courses to choose from, and both offering panoramic views of the Caribbean Sea, the golf facilities at the Palmas del Mar Resort are a treat for any avid golf enthusiast. Designed by Reese Jones – an acclaimed golf course architect, the Flamboyan Course opened in 1998, and is the longer of the two courses at 7,117 yards and regarded as the finest and top rated layout in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

The course is appointed with a plethora of memorable, wonderfully crafted challenging holes that are most definitely worth exploring. Fairways of the course unleash alongside a 20-acre freshwater lake, some bordering the Caribbean Sea while others intersecting the Candelero River. The 12th hole of the Flamboyan golf course is a solid par three that requires a skillful blow to reach a raised green that is tucked away behind a canal complete with a backdrop of the breathtaking backdrop of the Island of Vieques.

Regarded as the longest and most challenging golf course in the Caribbean, the Flamboyan golf course has received several accolades ever since its inception, most notably the Best Course award by Barron’s Magazine and Golf Digest award for Best Golf Course in Puerto Rico.

Opened in 1974 and originally designed by champion golfer Gary Player, the Palm is the smaller of the two courses at the Palmas del Mar beach resort, but is no less a challenge than its sister course the Flamboyan. The course features tree lined fairways and undulated greens, and is made challenging and interesting by the sand traps, tropical roughs and the strategically placed bunkers. To succeed on the Palm golf course requires superior accuracy off the tree, which is often a challenge for even seasoned golfers.

Holes 14 and 16 of the Palm golf course provide unobstructed views of the Caribbean Sea, giving players an excellent opportunity to experience the wonders of nature. In addition to the two golf courses, the golf facilities at the Palmas del Mar resort include a double ended driving range, two practice greens, an exciting junior program, practice clinics for all levels of golfers, all overlooked by two golf professionals.

Spread across an expansive 40,000 square feet, the clubhouse at the golf facilities offers a mix of recreation and resort and is complete with the Golf Shop, members lounge, restaurant and day time grill and even a covered patio. Furthermore, the clubhouse also provides locker rooms for both ladies and gentlemen, and separate locker facilities for resort guests along with a massage and bag storage room.

5 Fun Things To Do On A Ski Vacation Besides Skiing

Skiing is one of the most popular winter activities for good reasons. It offers up a chance to take in the fresh mountain air and scenic views while screaming down snowy hills and pine trees. Unfortunately, the same weather that dumps inches of fresh snow to allow you to ski in the first place, can also cause dangerous weather conditions that may close the skiing parks and keep you off of the slopes. Don’t worry though, there are many other activities to partake in besides skiing. Here are 5 fun things to do on a ski vacation besides skiing.

1. Apr├ęs Ski

The word stands for “after skiing” and generally means relaxing with friends after a long day on the slopes. However, you don’t need to have gone skiing all day to partake in this fun activity. If you can’t make it up the mountain stay indoors and enjoy some craft beers, wine, and food with friends and family.

2. Stay inside and watch movies

One of life’s great pleasures is staying cozy by a warm fire while a blizzard rages outside. Don’t let bad weather get you down, stay inside and enjoy a relaxing evening enjoying the amenities of your lodging. Cook a nice dinner, enjoy some wine, put on a movie you’ve been wanting to see, or simply lay back on the couch with a good book.

3. Hot tubbing and spa

If your lodging has a hot tub or spa, rest your muscles and recover after a long ski weekend. Spending day after day skiing can wear out even the most seasoned enthusiast. It is advised to take a break every 2 to 3 days and rest up. This is the perfect time to take advantage of your lodgings extra amenities or take a trip into town for a day at the spa. Your body will thank you.

4. Snow Shoeing

Snow shoeing is a great way to get exercise and participate in activities outdoors when you can’t or don’t want to go skiing. To snow shoe you put on what looks like tennis rackets on your boots. These displace the weight over a wide area of snow and allow you to walk solidly on even freshly fallen snow. It provides a less strenuous walk along with the sensation of gliding over the snow. Even if the snow is falling heavily outside you can participate in this activity and go for hikes near town.

5. Snow Tubing

Perhaps you can’t ski or are recovering from an injury. Snow tubing is a great way to enjoy nature in a fun and exciting way. Snow tubing requires you to grab ahold of an inner tube and slide down a mountain side much like sledding. There are even makeshift tubing parks with lanes, racing activities, and obstacle courses. However, even the basics will get anyone’s heart rate going.