Cream teas and champers, or clean eating and chakras? The Spa Spies argue for and against Wellness or Pampering packages in our spas
The Spa Spy
I would honestly shiver with horror if I found myself at a hen party spa day with cream teas and Champagne: it’s so clichéd. And have you ever tried to sip a (plastic) glass of bubbly in a Jacuzzi? I have, and I didn’t feel glamorous, at all - just a bit naff. Pampering makes me think of poodles: wellness is contemporary and stylish.
Wellness is not about being excessively virtuous but feeling balanced and beautiful rather than bloated and bleary. Wellness can make you feel pampered, but in a good way: it’s more about nurturing than indulging. Around the world, spas are embracing wellness and luxury combined – often with an eco-element, too. Pampering is about waste and excess; wellness is about sustainability and long-term thinking.
To create a spa around sustainability and holistic health demands more thought than simply using brand-based treatments and a hotel lunch menu. I like to be inspired, whether by food that is going to give me energy and make my gut microbiota happy; or wellness rituals, such as setting intentions while inhaling a balancing spray, or practising mindfulness in a massage to deepen the experience.
Wellness may be the mot du jour, and some places are jumping on the bandwagon without much thought; but if done properly, wellness brings a creative and innovative element to the spa day. I’m thinking gorgeous décor; beautiful settitngs; locally-sourced, healthy food prepared with care and attention to detail; and treatments that truly take care of you.
Chakra healing with Tibetan singing bowls sounds bonkers but feels divine as well as deeply emotional. You can even have a virtual reality mindful experience – or a real one, sitting in an outdoor pool and appreciating the natural beauty surrounding you. And you don’t need a Prosecco or a scone to feel blissed out. Frankly, I’d rather be a Gwynnie than a Kardashian. Give me wellness over pampering any day.
I feel surrounded enough by people gramming their superfood salads or showing off their lycra-clad bodies. There’s too much ‘wellness’ going on for my liking, most of it ridiculous and a total rip off: spas are places to escape this po-faced puritanical insanity.
In a world gone mad with austerity, and lots of depressing stats about diabetes and obesity, I crave pampering. I want treatments with the words diamond and truffle in them, massages that ease my aching limbs and make me snooze - not stay awake so that I can focus on my calf muscles, as one meditation asked me to do. Why on earth would I pay good money to think about such boring things as parts of my body? I want to drift away on a decadent cashmere-covered cloud imagining I’m gazing into Chris Hemsworth’s twinkly eyes (he plays Thor, by the way).
From where I’m sitting, pampering looks a lot like ‘self-care’ but way more enjoyable. Life can be fast-paced and stressful: some people want to punish themselves further with wheatgrass. I want to relax and feel like a Hollywood starlet. The element of fantasy and indulgence is part of it - pampering is playful and fun, like dressing up as a princess and eating too many Smarties when you’re young.
Wellness belongs outside a spa in the real world. Health shouldn’t be a fad but something you do every day and have fun on your days off. It’s all about balance (to borrow an over-used and somewhat nonsensical phrase from the wellness lexicon). I don’t want to splash out on eating less and having a wispy treatment that does nothing. I have had my chakras realigned, thank you very much, and it was frankly underwhelming. And I won’t tell you where you can stick your kefir and kale smoothie.
The Spa Spy
12th December 2018
Intuitive masseurs, inspired or outlandish treatments and design, posh products and celeb spotting.
Anyone po-faced (guests and therapists) or stupid, boring design and treatments.
Behind the scenes