Spa Break, January 2014

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Our Champneys spa experience starts well in advance, with the booking process. It takes 4 phone calls, two unreturned messages, and finally I get through and manage to make a reservation. No email confirmation ever arrives, but they charge my card so my mom and I turn up anyway, and have to deal then with our making of two separate reservations (thankfully for different days).

There is a huge amount of confusion, but eventually it is sorted and I find the horrendous misspelling of my name, which explains the lack of email. Thankfully the staff at the actual spa are far better than the call centre staff, and recognise us from a previous visit which helps. Aside from the minor issue of our treatments for day 3 being cancelled (for which they were incredibly apologetic, resolved with an improvement on what we had previously reserved, and gave us a little gift – all in all, net win), we went on to have a relaxing weekend.

I got a declor body wrap and facial, which was fabulous, and out package included a scrub (lovely), head massage (I had two, heaven), and a “thalassiotherapy” session.

Thallasotherapy, for all it’s grand claims of improving skin, digestion, etc etc etc is like a group hot tub session, except the hot tub isn’t that hot, and you rotate around the jets on command. The hot tub at my (fancy) gym has the better features (water jets to stick your head under, and a cage which pummels you) and is actually warm, so I’ll stick to that. There seemed to be a lot of disorganisation around it, and there were 21 people who thought they were booked into our session, and we were thankfully part of the lucky 12 who didn’t have to go and rebook. What a pain that would have been! Amusingly afterwards we’re told to drink lots of water and relax because it is an “intense treatment”. LOL.

The food is for the most part a big bland, but there was some lovely soup, lunchtime has a chef making something (pasta, wraps) to order, and both our dinners features a divine desert. There was also yummy onion bread, so that sustained me.

I book into the spa when I think I need to relax, but in retrospect, I’ve had better experiences when that wasn’t the primary goal – I had an amazing session at the spa when I was in Hong Kong for example. It’s like a treadmill of relaxation, and yet with everyone there having the exact same goal it feels constrained. The treatments are very exact in time, and good therapists don’t make you feel this, but last trip my needing nail polish removed before my pedicure became a Big Deal for the timing, and the result is that now I notice. And don’t get a pedicure. It’s also really expensive – we paid 175GBP per person, per night, plus extra treatments. This was for a standard room which was quite basic, and I wasn’t impressed with the toiletries – the conditioner (my barometer for good hotel toiletries) didn’t do much to detangle my curly hair.

Next time I’ll book a weekend city break, instead.

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