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Reviewed July 1, 2013

Enjoyed a break here in June having visited a number of times before. Overall a good experience and we will return. There are some matters management needs to get a grip on so standards don't start a downward slide.

Check-in / out
This was efficient and friendly. Long queues to check out - glad we were not in a rush.

Bar
Service on day one a little slow but pleasant and knowledgeable bar-man/sommelier (Marcin). On a later day we sat in bar late morning to read our paper. We sat over 20 minutes before we were asked by a staff member if we wanted a drink etc. We did not but someone should have checked.

Concierge
Shocked to pass the concierge/porter station to hear one of them loudly say "...F***ing..". If we had heard that one more time we would have immediately been speaking to the duty manager.

Room
Resort room was large, with a soft seat, two-seat sofa plus desk and chair. Well cleaned. TV location great for bed, but if sitting in the sofa you had your back to the TV. Air-con plus windows you can open to get fresh air. Windows cannot be opened so far as to be a danger for children.

Spa
The main area needing management attention. A great facility with lovely views of the sea and Mourne Mountains. However...

A) Sauna - was barely hot. More like getting into a car which was parked in the sun. We tried to sit on the raised area with the mountain view. Hard to get comfortable. Then discovered why - this was because the board at the seat edge (some 5 feet long) was not secured at all. Five minutes with a handyman would screw it back down. See photo.

B) Mens changing rooms three sinks, one had loads of hair, presumably from someone beard trimming. Single urinal had 4 pieces of gum in it. A staff member with a grey shirt and tie came in and looked quickly around. When he was leaving I asked was he supervising area. Yes. Told him re. the hair and gum. Said he would get someone. This man rinsed away the hair. 30 minutes later (having seen the male attendant in his black uniform around) I was shocked to see the gum was still in place.

C) Pool loungers - there for all to see was a large worn hole in the cushion. This cushion simply should be withdrawn. It gives a terrible impression in an otherwise lovely spa. (See photo)

D) At the end of the pool is a wide stream of water flowing in, with an electric light (probably blue) behind it. The light was not working. Attention to detail!

E) Bins - was surprised to find a blue-overalled worker wheeling a green 'food waste only' bin though the public doors from the car park to the spa in front of us. Surely there is a more discrete way/route to move these bins?

Oak restaurant
Dinner here was lovely with very attentive and friendly staff.

Breakfast is excellent and an improvement on our previous visit. Fantastic local products used to give the best example of an Ulster Fry. Try the black, and white, pudding from Gracehill. Also good selection of other products, yoghurts, porridge with Bushmills Whiskey to pour on, freshly squeezed OJ etc. Nice touch is a booklet saying where the products come from.

Mohammed is an excellent host in this area.

Gardens
Nice gardens/lawns have a gate straight onto the beach. On two evenings we were out for a stroll and tried to return via the gate (around 1830hrs) and found the gate locked. Wonder is it ever open? The beach is stony and not so popular that the gate needs to be locked before sunset! (See photo)

Overall
This is a wonderful family-owned historic hotel set on the beach and right beside the town. Lovely promenade along the sea-front. Most staff are very friendly and tend to greet you if passing in a corridor.

Management needs to keep standards and maintenance high in the spa area or it will become a source of complaints.

We will certainly be back and recommend the hotel to adults as well as families with young children.

Room Tip: If a sea room is important to you be sure to request it. Half of the resort rooms do not have a sea view - they look over the rear car park towards Royal County Down golf course.
  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Adrian H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
General_Manager_JT, General Manager at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 10, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to review your stay.

I appreciate that although there were areas requiring some attention that you hope to return to the hotel and that you will recommend to others. I am glad that overall you enjoyed your stay with us.

Regarding your experience at check in and check out it is encouraging to hear that the service you received was efficient and friendly. At times the reception area can get busy when a lot of guests checking in and out but I am pleased to hear that the staff managed this effectively.

Our bar staff receive extensive training so that they are able to share information regarding the beverages we serve to our guests and I am glad this is reflected in our sommelier Marcin.

I have spoken to the Head Concierge regarding the language you overhead from a member of her staff and she will ensure there are no further occurrences of this nature. The language used was clearly unacceptable and out of place in a four star hotel. This matter has been addressed and I am confident that there will be no further occurrences of this nature.

I appreciate your kind words regarding the resort room which was allocated. The views are truly spectacular and I am pleased that you were able to experience them.

Thank you for highlighting the areas of your Spa experience which require attention. Regarding the sauna temprature please be assured that we have checked this and the temprature is 80 degrees as recommended. Our staff carry out regular checks and will monitor this in future. We will ensure also that maintenance fully inspect the sauna in order to rectify any areas of concern. I have personally inspected the other areas highlighted including male changing rooms, pool light and loungers. The changing rooms are fully cleaned and the pool light is in working order. The sun loungers will be recovered.

The Oak Restaurant takes pride in using the finest local produce and in providing guests with the best in Irish Hospitality so I am very pleased that you enjoyed your Oak experience. I will share your kind words with our staff.

To clarify the beach to the gate is closed every evening to secure grounds and is opened during the day to allow guests access.

I once again thanks you for highlighting the areas for improvement as well as the areas which we have exceeded your expectations. We look forward to welcoming you back.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 30, 2013

Stayed here last weekend with my wife. Fab views of mountains from room.....spotless throughout. Spa gorgeous....swimming pool area has the best views in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, saturday night was spoilt by doors banging and loud talking in the corridor late at night, so would advise that you check first if any weddings are booked...the hotel was catering for 2!!!!!!
Breakfast was delightful...the hotel makes much of its locally- sourced produce and the difference was notable...the bacon and sausages were the best I've ever tasted.....truly a Royal feast!!!!

HIOWEVER.....Saturday nights meal was taken at the Percy French ... a Bistro/ bar/ restaurant in the grounds of the Hotel. THIS WAS A MISTAKE! The food was excellent, but the service the worst I've ever experienced ANYWHERE!!!!
On arrival, we were ignored for 10 mins whilst staff scuttled about. We were eventually shown to a table and handed menus.
The waitress disappeared for another 20 mins!!!
After 10, I went to get drinks myself from the bar. When I returned to the table, the waitress STILL hadn't taken a food OR drink order!!!!!
This set the tone for the meal....15 mins after finishing the meal, our plates were still sitting on the table, as were 3 empty glasses!
We got an apology from the manager at the end, but really, for this to be owned by the Hastings Group, NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
( in contrast, the next night we had a meal at close- by Villa Vinci....now THATS how to run a restaurant....superb!

Room Tip: Ask for a view of the sea or mountains
  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank spikemilligan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
General_Manager_JT, General Manager at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 4, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to review your recent stay with us.

I am very pleased that there were aspects of your stay that surpassed your expectations. I appreciate your comments on the breakfast served during your stay. We take pride in providing guests with the finest local produce and I am glad that you enjoyed your meal.

Regarding the noise experienced, I can only apologise. It is our aim for all guests to have a relaxings stay and from your review I can see this has not been the case. Please be assured that we will take your comments into consideration and will ensure that guests not attending weddings are allocated rooms which will not be disturbed by wedding guests.

I also would like to apologise for the sevice received in the Percy French during your stay. I agree that the service received was unacceptable. As a result of your review I will be meeting with the Manager to discuss ways in which to improve the service we provide to our guests. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and allowing us the opportunity to improve.

I do hope that in spite of your concerns that you will return to the hotel so that we can offer you the level of service I know we are capable of delivering.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 30, 2013

My husband and I needed one night away together to escape all things baby. Again after much looking and reading I choose the Slieve Donard, mainly because it had a spa and it was cheaper than The Galgorm. We paid £170 for the night, had a resort double room with breakfast included and full use of spa. On arrival the outside of the hotel and the location is stunning, right on the waters edge with spectacular views of the mourne mountains. Our room was a great size, views of the sea and mountains, comfy king size bed, separate seating area at the lovely big windows. Bathroom was a little dark and lacked the charm the rest of the room had. We spent most of the afternoon in the spa. Having stayed at The Galgorm the spa here just does not compare. There is a pool, steam room, sauna and vitality pool which is just a long jacuzzi. Again there is something missing from the spa, it's relaxing but needs some more features added in. We had dinner in the Percy French which wasn't the best food I've ever had but it was tasty and filled a hole!

On the whole we really enjoyed our stay but I think we would have enjoyed anywhere we wanted away so bad! This hotel is lovely, there are just little details that I've seen in other 4 star hotels that are missing from The Slieve Donard. .

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Dongookle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
General_Manager_JT, General Manager at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 4, 2013

Thank you for taking the time to review your stay.

I am very pleased that you enjoyed your 'escape' to the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa. I am glad that you enjoyed relaxing in your room and looking out at our scenic surroundings.

It is always valuable to receive feedback from an outside perspective on the areas on which we can improve. I apprecaiate your comments on the Spa facilities and will ensure they are taken into consideration for any future development.

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Reviewed June 29, 2013 via mobile

I hesitated a bit as some reviews were not great but so glad we stayed here.
We had a great stay, would we return....
A resounding YES.
Just one issue I really wish you would pan fry the soda darks as they are just not right the way they are cooked.
Don't hesitate take a break here and enjoy the wonderful scenery around Newcastle.

  • Stayed: June 2013
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Thank wmargaux
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
General_Manager_JT, General Manager at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 4, 2013

Thank you for your review of the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa.

We would be so glad to have you back to stay with us - thank you for your very kind words! Its great to hear that we have made your stay so enjoyable and for your wonderful recommendation. I will share your feedback on the soda bread with our Chef and hope that when you come back to visit they will be more to your taste!

We look forward to seeing you again!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 28, 2013

We drove in from the South and arrived about 6:30 PM after a day of golf. When we went to check in, the young lady at the desk said she didn't have our reservation. I showed her my documents from our travel company, which included the booking confirmation number but she claimed not to be able to find our reservation. After fumbling with the computer for 10 minutes, she asked us to step into a parlor while she sorted it out. When I requested a manager, I was told none was on the premises. A very nice bellman offered to bring us tea or a soft drink and apologized. He suggested that this happened often because now all reservations were processed at central booking center and again apologized

Thirty minutes later I was back to the front desk. The young lady told me she still couldn't find our reservation but she was trying to contact the central reservation office in Belfast. She told me to be patient so that she could sort it out. I am rarely patient with bad service. I was able to call my travel agent in the US and she had things corrected in 5 minutes. She also had the confirmation number in her records. It is worth pointing out that every other arrangement in a fairly complicated trip came off perfectly.

The front desk person finally checked us in, without an apology, and made the point that it wasn't her fault but that our agent must have made an error.

The hotel is very nice. The rooms are well appointed and breakfast was excellent. It was very convenient to walk 2 minutes out the door to get to the Royal County Down Clubhouse. The Spa and Hot Tub were great after a day on the course.

With the exception of the bellman we encountered the first night, service seemed grudging but correct. There was no hospitality evident. Everyone did their job but really didn't seem to care whether you were there or not.

It is the nicest hotel in town and the location is terrific. All it lacks is warmth, hospitality and a booking system that works. I would not stay there again.

  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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Thank Phillyfans
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
General_Manager_JT, General Manager at Slieve Donard Resort and Spa, responded to this reviewResponded July 4, 2013

Thank you for your review.

I am very disappointed to hear of your experience and I would like to offer my sincere apologies that our service fell short on this occasion. We take pride in offering our guests the finest in Irish hospitality and this has clearly not been your experience. I will share this review with all Heads of Department in order to identify any training needs. I thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. I would like to assure you that I will work with my team here to restore the high levels of service and attention to detail that our guests deserve.

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