You don't have to go far for a Med-style spa experience. For seasoned spa-istas, such as moi, the stunning Channel Islands are a veritable spa mecca, and just over an hour from the UK. With the sun shinning on sparkling turqoise seas, sandy beaches and castles, it's like being on the Riviera. Which makes sense - on the map, these islands are only 12 miles from the French coast.
They are not part of the UK, but independent Crown Dependencies, and have a reputation as a tax haven, even though it's virtually impossible for non-natives to buy property there (I did look into it: it was that nice!) Car-free Sark is also, sadly, spa-free, but still worth seeing.
As well as some high end spas, I was thrilled to learn that Jersey is also home to some very special spa treatments; you can have an authentic Ayurveda consultation and treatment plan, or enjoy a bespoke organic De Mariel facial, which is only just recently available in the Agua Mondrian in the UK.
We also took a ten minute flight over to pretty Guernsey - home of French author Victor Hugo - to sample a brand new and rather splendid lake-side spa.
Here are my favourite spa moments - six good reasons to make the Channel Islands the perfect Spa Spy destination.
This modern five bubble spa attached to the old-fashioned Hotel de France has so many things going for it. There’s a beautiful modern, light-filled space with lots of gorgeous spa pools and thermal rooms on one level and a traditional Ayurveda spa above where you can have authentic treatments and medical consultations. If you haven’t had a four handed Abhyanga massage at the Ayush, you have not lived. Head here in Summer when the spa garden is in full bloom and enjoy traditional Ayurveda spa lunches adapted to suit your ‘dosha’.
This won the Best Spa for Families at the 2016 Good Spa Guide Awards. Why? The hotel is situated right on St Brelade’s, one of the most beautiful beaches in Jersey, and the family friendly pool has floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the bay. While there is plenty to keep more active family members occupied, parents in need of some r&r can head up to The Spa, a stylish oasis of calm with a range of Elemis treatments and two luxurious relaxation rooms. The large open-plan brasserie by the pool is the perfect place to sample a delicious, locally sourced menu and watch the world go by.
Another GSG award-winner – Best Spa on the Channel Islands no less, as voted by GSG readers, and we hope you’ll agree. The spa is newly built and makes the most of its views over a beautiful lake and delightful gardens. We especially loved lounging in the relaxation room watching the thundery skies after an amazing Elemis massage. A large modern swimming pool opens out onto a stylish decked area where you can enjoy your delicious spa lunch, sunbathe or dip into the outdoor whirlpool. The sauna has a one-way window view of the outdoors, so you can spy on people as they bubble away in the outdoor hot-tub - then once you’re nicely boiled, run to the outdoor shower to cool down.
If you’re a social sort, The Royal Yacht is a wonderful place to hang out, eat damn fine food and people watch. The spa is the same. Sirene means mermaid, and thus the pool area is lit like an underground grotto. The swimming and hydro-pools gleam invitingly, while around the edge are swirly ice-cream cone seats and doors leading to various thermal rooms. We rather enjoyed listening to local gossip in the glass fronted sauna. The staff were outstandingly friendly and attentive, like they were genuinely happy to be there. We loved our Aromatherapy Associates massage and adored our exceptionally tasty spa lunch and smoothies.
What a splendid beach-front hotel this is, with pretty much every room facing out over the bay and Elizabeth Castle jutting out into to sea. Okay, the spa is in the basement, but maybe that’s why every time we went down, we had the lovely, atmospherically lit pool all to ourselves. Treat yourself to a transforming Elemis facial, or luxuriant body treatment then recline on one of the plush, plump couches in the decadent relax room – one of our favourites, it has whale music! And cakes! – and do some mindfulness colouring-in. Make sure you have a spa lunch as the food is divine and served in the beautiful Champagne Bar, where, at last, you can drink in the views.
You can’t talk about Jersey Hotels and not mention the five-star Longueville Manor, a stylish family run boutique hotel with beautiful gardens, delicious locally sourced food and an Italianate heated outdoor pool. It also has the only spa in the world to offer the de Mamiel Rhythmn of Nature Holistic Facial. The cult brand, as featured on Goop and in the Vogue 100, is created at home by Annee de Mamiel, acupuncturist, aromatherapist and healing facialist. Annee personally trained the spa manager at Longueville to deliver the treatment, a seasonally inspired, unique and gorgeous experience.