From fancy spas in the Seychelles and Zanzibar, to elegant luxury hotels in the UK and success at the Good Spa Guide Awards 2018, here are some of the Spa Spies favourite spa experiences revisited.
One of the highlights for me this year was heading to Zanzibar to review the Bazara Resort & Spa (pictured). Full of exotic charm, this luxury property faces a sandy white beach, and consists of individual white villas with private plunge pools. I loved the gold accents, our Frangipani Signature Massage and my history teller experience, listening to stories about Zanzibar, past and present. bazara-resort.com
I was also lucky enough to visit Alphonse Island in theSeychellesthis year, a remote island resort accessible only by 18-seater propeller plane. An island paradise, we spent the week snorkelling, fishing, relaxing in a hammock, eating local food and, of course, enjoying the spa treatments. alphonse-island.com
Closer to home, I loved my visit to the South Downs to review the 5 BubblePark House Spa. I swam in the outdoor 15-metre pool, sipped beer on a lounger, enjoyed lunch in view of the countryside and had a Voya Mindful Dreams massage. That evening, while watching the summer setting sun, I sipped Gin and Tonic from an honesty bar and watched guests play tennis. Very Chamomile Lawn.
One of my favourite experiences this year was spending a day at The Bulgari Spa in Knightsbridge (pictured). I started my day with a personal training session in the Workshop gym. Normally this would fill me with dread, but Celebrity trainer Lee Mullins guided me through a workout using my own body weight to combat the effects of me sitting at a desk all day. It turns out not all gyms are scary places! My treatments were fantastic too – I especially loved the David Peters Signature Revitalising Body Experience (a combination of acupuncture and Chinese massage) the perfect treatment for anyone who loves results! Take me back…
As a fan of results-driven facials, I loved my facial at the flagship Dermalogica Store on Duke of York Square. It made a huge difference to my skin, not only did I look better, but the products I used afterwards have continued to make a huge difference to my problematic skin all year. I learnt a lot, too. I also loved my Hypno-Reiki treatment at Ragdale Hall Spa, this unique holistic treatment is something that I would have again and again. It really helped me make positive and lasting changes to my life. The only thing missing from this year was a trip back to Mauritius…there still a few weeks left of the year so a girl can dream!
Two spa trips have really stood out for me in 2018, despite - or maybe because of – the political unrest and insanity around the world. The first last January was the beautiful Burgenstock resort in Switzerland (pictured), one of my favourite European countries, especially when it comes to spa, wellness and scenery. What a spectacular setting, with its massive outdoor hydro-pool wrapped around a glass-walled swimming pool dangling several hundred feet above Lake Lucerne. Whenever I am stressed, I close my eyes and imagine I am bubbling away in steamy water in the clean, icy air, gazing at the snow-capped mountains.
The second, at the end of Summer, was Lucknam Park, a quintessentially English country hotel with bags of eccentric charm, an equestrian school and heavenly food (I was lucky to try both restaurants, and a five-course veggie taster menu). The spa isn’t half bad either; indeed, I’d place it as my favourite in the UK.
The best treatment(s) I had were at Sequoia at The Grove – the ESPA Blissful Rest Massage (£145, 120 minutes) followed by the Natura Bissé High Definition Face Lift (80 minutes, £170). I was stunned by the effect of the facial; it stripped years off me and continued tightening for 24 hours, so I woke up looking radiantly airbrushed. So good that even Mr Spa Spy noticed (a first).
2018 has been a year of striving for optimal health and wellness - taking up running and completing my first 10k in the summer, finding a love for boxing and working on strength with weights. All of this was supported by some Comfort Zones Active range. If you feel good when you start exercising, it impacts your performance.
I loved discovering Hoar Cross Hall, the happy and helpful team and wonderful treatments. Another highlight was exploring the grounds at Cowley Manor(pictured) - 55 acres of woodland and parkland with the occasional quirky piece of art or original feature: the perfect mindful escape.
This year finished on a great high with our Good Spa Guide Awards - over 100 finalist spas came to celebrate the UK spa industry and see 18 winners collected a bubble statuette.