'Bad taste' | 

Co Antrim hotel apologises for any offence over ‘bikinis and balaclavas’ spa offer

‘Bad taste’ promotion a slap in face for Troubles victims, says DUP politician

An advertisement for the 'shooting and spa' offer

David O'DornanSunday Life

A boutique country house offering a ‘bikinis and balaclavas’ shooting and spa package has apologised for any offence.

Rosnashane House in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, was accused of showing a lack of respect to victims of violence.

It advertised the package on its Facebook page last week, along with a run-down of what it includes.

The description reads: “Arrive to let off some steam at our private gun range... then enjoy a 30-minute private hot tub with drink of choice.

“Finish off with a 30-minute spa treatment of choice... then head home and get ready for a night on the town or a night in after a great day’s fun.”

Along with the message were pictures of a model in a skimpy bikini and of three masked individuals wearing combat gear and carrying airsoft guns.

The advertisement gave no price, but there were more than 200 comments from people interested in the package.

One wrote: “Sounds like a plan, a dangerous one”, while another said, “I’ll even pack my own balaclava”.

But Causeway Coast and Glens DUP councillor Mervyn Storey said the promotion could offend victims of the Troubles.

He added: “To say that this is bad taste is putting it mildly. There is nothing glamorous in using balaclavas and guns to promote any business. Where is the respect for victims of horrific violence?”

Masked guests at the venue's airsoft range

Rosnashane House, which has more than 90,000 followers on Facebook, insisted no offence was intended.

A spokesman said: “Our bikinis and balaclavas day and overnight packages have been offered for quite a while at Rosnashane House. These are some of our most popular packages.

“The package is named as such as participants in our airsoft gun range are provided with camouflage wear and balaclavas for the experience.

“This is all a bit of fun. No offence is intended to anyone and this is in no way linked to the Troubles.

“Rosnashane House is a diverse company with staff from both sides of the community, and it has supported fundraisers for multiple cross-community organisations.

“We will release our own statement on our page, and we are happy to discuss this with Mervyn Storey if he would like to reach out.”

One of the treatment rooms

Within a few fours, the country house had posted a statement reading: “It has been brought to our attention that some people may have found our bikinis and balaclavas package offensive.

“This was in no way our intention. As a business, we have always strived to put our guests’ wellbeing at the forefront of everything we do.

“This has been one of our most popular packages since it was announced over a year ago.

“Rosnashane House is a diverse company with a team made up of members both sides of the community, in addition to supporting many fundraising events for cross-community organisations.

“We apologise for any offence (the offer) may have caused.”

The DUP's Mervyn Storey

The announcement was met with support from fans of the venue, who said they did not agree the promotion was offensive.

One wrote: “Snowflakes everywhere. For dear sake, we live in Northern Ireland. We should be used to this banter.”

Rosnashane House’s website boasts of the business’s links to the royal family, explaining: “Parts of the house date back 300 years. When it was built, an equerry of the queen once buzzed through the gated entrance.”

It is billed as sitting within a 500-acre working farm just outside Ballymoney, with the area described as “an enchanting setting”.

The country house has views of the Sperrin Mountains and offers glamping pods, a treehouse, hot tubs and a wood-burning pizza oven.

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