Stylish Spy tries an ila Shorodhara Third Eye Ritual
Take me with you…
Cheshire’s Aria Spa is part of Apollo Park, a large retail area just outside Warrington. Despite the rather unusual setting, Athelis Club & Spa is a new addition to the site, boasting a gym, a restaurant and a spa, which opened in 2019. Park up outside and walk into the large reception area.
Shall we spa?
On arrival we were offered a hot towel, a welcome smoothie and chilled grapes, followed by a tour of our spa. We headed through the turn-styles and straight into the female changing rooms, which are large and stylish with grey floors, marble vanity bars, twines of pretty faux pink blossom and gold accents.
Three banks of wristband-operated lockers are separated by vanity areas accommodating two spa-goers at a time. Beyond here, you’ll find five showers with glass doors and Malin + Goetz products.
Use your wristband to open the door at the end which leads to the indoor/outdoor swimming pool. At 20 metres, the inside section is long enough to swim lengths. Push open the waist-height glass doors at the end to swim into the outdoor pool, which was delightfully warm on our visit. This is 15-metres long and surrounded by a wide patio with bright orange plastic chairs for sunnier days. Warm up in the rectangular vitality pool afterwards.
You’ll find the spa’s thermal facilities on the second floor – head up the stairs or push 2 inside the lift. You’ll immediately be met with an attractive Lava Sauna with orange Himalayan salt brick wall and two levels of wooden seating accommodating 10 at a time. A wall of glass from here looks out onto the indoor/outdoor infinity pool.
To use this, step into the water on the inside and push the waist-height glass doors open to head out. At 37 degrees, this is super toasty with an infinity edge to lean on. Look to the left to watch bunnies playing in the grass (rather than right for the large retail area).
Around the corner from the Lava Sauna is a Zen steam room seating eight which was citrus-scented on our visit; use the foot stools to settle in and relax. We loved the eucalyptus-scented Fire and Ice room - which is curved with 12 seats – and regularly grabbed handfuls of ice from the fountain to cool down.
After a treatment, head to Hibernate to relax or participate in some guided meditation.
We tried an ila Shorodhara Third Eye Ritual (110 minutes, £190).
Carla, my therapist, met me in the Champagne Lounge and led me to one of four treatment rooms. She then invited me to place my feet into a bowl of hot water and scrubbed them with a blend of freshly-squeezed lime juice and pink Himalayan salt.
Carla then left the room so that I could get comfortable on the treatment bed, lying face down. Carla began the treatment with a full body scrub, beginning with my back and shoulders, and ending on my legs. She then ran the shower and invited me to enter and wash the scrub off.
Back on the bed, Carla massaged my back using warm oils and hot poultices to get into the muscles. Turning over, Carla moved onto a facial, and combined nourishing ila products with some targeted massage.
The third eye element of the treatment is hot oil which is drizzled onto your head and massaged in – Carla’s firm touch sent me into oblivion.
Coming to, Carla fetched me a lemon sorbet drizzled in mango coulis and a glass of water to enjoy on the bed before leading me into the Hibernation room for a post-treatment snooze.
How did it measure up?
If you aren’t sure whether to have a scrub, a massage, hot stones or a facial, this is a good choice. Carla is an incredibly experienced therapist, and two hours went by in a flash.
Spot of lunch?
Lunch is served in the Champagne bar with its grey herringbone floors, dusky pink chairs and faux blossom – the slim fire embedded into the wall gives it a cosy feel. Six heated Italian marble chairs around the corner allow guests to relax overlooking the outdoor vitality pool. Or climb in one of two hanging rattan chairs for two.
The menu here is Asian with small plates - such as chilli Squid - and larger plates - such as spicy glazed salmon. We chose four small plates to share and tucked into king prawn tacos, sticky chicken wings, Tempura prawns and Sushi with chicken and avocado, washed down with a glass of pink fizz.
Got all day?
Stay put – there’s plenty here to keep you occupied.
Short on time?
Head straight to the second floor and combine a wallow in the outdoor bubbly pool with a spot of lunch.