‘Bikini and balaclava’: Northern Ireland spa resort apologises over ‘depraved’ ad

Promotion for County Antrim hot tub, massage and shooting offer described as ‘truly appalling’

A Northern Ireland resort has apologised for causing offence by advertising a “bikinis and balaclavas” spa package, but said it would continue offering the service.

Rosnashane House in Ballymoney, County Antrim, drew criticism over the weekend for using the image of a woman in a black bikini and balaclava to market a spa treatment with gun range shooting.

The overnight package includes a hot tub, massage and the chance to fire handguns and machine-guns. “Round up the girls or boys for the perfect fun and pampering night out,” said its Facebook page.

Kenny Donaldson, a spokesperson for Innocent Victims United, which represents people injured and bereaved during the Troubles, condemned the use of garb associated with paramilitaries.

“This is truly appalling, depraved marketing. There will be fools who’ll say, but sure it’s just a bit of craic. No it’s not. Balaclavas and guns brought nothing but carnage to this society.”

Mervyn Storey, a Democratic Unionist party (DUP) councillor, said the advert, first reported in Sunday Life, was in bad taste. “There is nothing glamorous in using balaclavas and guns to promote any business. Where is the respect for victims of horrific violence?”

Paramilitaries continue to use balaclavas. Police last year seized and did DNA testing on two bin liners with 51 balaclavas that were suspected of being used for terrorist purposes.

The advertising image that caused the upset.
The advertising image that caused the offence. Photograph: Rosnashane House

Rosnashane House said it had not intended to cause offence. “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 first announced over a year ago based around our onsite airsoft range,” it said in a Facebook post.

“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 this may have caused.”

After hundreds of messages – most of them supportive – were posted, the company said it would continue offering the package. “Thank you for all the support and kind reviews regarding this package folks. It is here to stay.”

The statement did not specify if the image of a woman in a bikini and balaclava would stay. Ronashane House has been contacted for comment.

The Facebook comments that defended the marketing called it funny and harmless.

“Sure balaclavas are probably the most cross-community item of clothing in Northern Ireland,” said one comment. “I was a bit offended at first but only because I’m too fat to wear a bikini but sure no one will recognise me with my clava on!” said another. Another said: “Balaclavas are what made this country famous.”


Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Steve Baker wants to renegotiate Brexit agreement over Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland minister’s proposal comes after PM denied plans for Swiss-style relationship with EU

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent

24, Nov, 2022 @2:13 PM

Article image
Northern Ireland voters back Windsor framework – poll
Just 16.9% of unionist and nationalist voters oppose post-Brexit deal, survey finds

Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent

22, Mar, 2023 @9:00 AM

Article image
UK to unilaterally continue suspending Northern Ireland border checks
Move likely further to antagonise EU but leaders hope Queen’s death may help bring about reconciliation

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent

15, Sep, 2022 @10:29 AM

Article image
Northern Ireland protocol: key issues revised deal must address
Trade and governance will be at centre of new post-Brexit pact, but what about other areas of disagreement?

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent

27, Feb, 2023 @8:15 PM

Article image
Liz Truss faces Lords’ Northern Ireland protocol rebellion
Peers from all parties seeking to stop bill getting on statute books amid hope of more optimistic talks

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent

10, Oct, 2022 @5:00 AM

Article image
DUP takes time and withholds judgment on Northern Ireland deal
Jeffrey Donaldson welcomes progress in UK-EU plan but leaves options open over endorsement

Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent

27, Feb, 2023 @7:44 PM

Article image
Deal on Northern Ireland protocol ‘could be struck next week’
Negotiations are in crucial final phase with Rishi Sunak preparing to hold calls with EU leaders

Jessica Elgot, Lisa O'Carroll and Jennifer Rankin

14, Feb, 2023 @6:01 PM

Article image
Northern Ireland secretary optimistic on resolving Brexit standoff with EU
Chris Heaton-Harris also repeated that he would call an election on 28 October if power sharing is not restored

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent

07, Oct, 2022 @4:02 PM

Article image
Northern Ireland hopes Game of Thrones prequel will see fans return
Tour operators hope House of the Dragon will end long winter of low visitor numbers

Rory Carroll Ireland correspondent

26, Aug, 2022 @4:51 PM

Article image
Rishi Sunak plans US trip with Northern Ireland high on agenda
UK officials in flurry of diplomacy seeking agreement with EU over protocol, but play down talk that deal is close

Kiran Stacey, Lisa O'Carroll, Pippa Crerar and Jennifer Rankin

01, Feb, 2023 @6:34 PM