Alba Thermal Springs
At Alba Thermal Springs and Spa, you’ll be greeted by a curved concrete, almost otherworldly building, which stands tall amid Fingal’s lush green wilderness. The site– set on 15 hectares – is home to 31 different bathing pools, 22 elegant spa treatment rooms and a restaurant curated by celebrity chef Karen Martini. A destination in and of itself, it’s deserving of a dedicated daytrip.
Each springs experience starts with leaving your phone in a locker in the spacious change rooms. There, find slippers, Vanessa Megan skincare products, and a robe so fluffy you’ll want to live in it. Then it’s outdoors to explore geothermal pools, cold-plunge pools and herbal-infused “botanical pools”. Some are all about socialising, others are intimately tucked away – a hidden cave pool offers views over the region.
The private, bookable bathing experiences include a rooftop geothermal or salt pool (where you can float weightless), as well as secluded springs throughout the property. There’s also an invigorating “rain” pool, where you’ll walk through a circular wall of water to access the pool.
More than 35 spa treatments are available at Alba, including indulgent full- and half-day experiences and a variety of facials, massages, scrubs, wraps and even scalp therapy. There’s also a Vichy shower, which has seven jets that both massage and cleanse the body while you lie flat.
Alba’s all-day restaurant, Thyme is headed up by Hero’s Karen Martini. It’s an indoor-outdoor affair. And after starting with a tangy mocktail, the celebrity chef’s simple-seeming but expertly balanced snacks keep on coming.
You might find house ocean-trout gravlax with a soft-boiled egg, caviar pearls and caperberries. Or a creamy ball of burrata plonked atop melon slithers and heirloom tomatoes, in burnt-honey balsamic. Or Skull Island prawn toast with wasabi mayo.
But the star of the show is undoubtedly the crumbed-fish sandwich, a Japanese spin on the one from Hero. Two hands are necessary to attack the saucy creation, stacked up with iceberg and butter lettuce, shiso, pickled ginger and lashings of nori tartare.