Cape Town in a British winter is a sunny haven from chill winds. You can see whales migrating across the horizon, soak up some sun, and watch the ocean turn pink in the sunset. Delightfully, you can do all this without suffering undue jet-lag if you're from the UK or pastures similar, as you fly north to south rather than across time zones. (Although you might wonder just which time zones you've crossed if you're a Brit on arrival and see a sign to Llandudno.) Paradise thus far but, more importantly, what about the spa when you get there?
On a recent trip, two of our Spies checked out the spa at The Twelve Apostles. The hotel itself is pretty swish. It's built into the mountainside under the peaks of the same name, overlooking the southern reaches of the Atlantic Ocean. The views are fabulous both out to the ocean and with the clouds and mountains behind.
The spa itself is hewn out of the mountainside. The light and bright entrance, where staff greet you with a refreshing drink, is the gateway to a subterranean experience. We didn't stay in the hotel, so can't comment on the swimming pools or outdoor experiences, but concentrated on the spa itself.
The spa is neat and tidy. Through from the entrance is an area with chairs, tables, healthy snacks, fresh fruit juices and herbal teas, then a white-sofa waiting area where you fill in your consultation form. Along a small corridor are the changing rooms -- shared with hotel guests coming in and out from the pools -- which are also small but perfectly clean and stocked with all the lotions and towels you need.
Down some steps are the plunge pools, which nestle underneath the white-painted rocks which form the walls and ceiling. These have internal water jets and you can use them if you've booked any treatment. Sadly, the warm pool was cold on our visit; one of the staff agreed and set off to call an engineer. Neither of us was inclined to use the cold pool on its own or to brave the salt water floatation pool. I certainly wanted to prepare for my treatment with a restful liquid, reduced-gravity experience, but wasn't brave enough to clamber over the slippery steps, into brown water, and lie there with the white-painted mountainside threatening to collide with my eyebrows just above my head. Sorry.
My treatment was very pleasant. I'd booked the Apostles Touch signature treatment (105 minutes, R1 250) as I wanted to have a unique experience, not available elsewhere. The treatment involves the stones of Table Mountain, hand-picked fynbos (vegetation) and ocean shells. I enjoyed it very much. The hot-stone foot massage was deeply relaxing, the back-of-the-body exfoliation thorough, and the lava-shell massage moreish. There are nine treatment rooms -- obviously I didn't visit them all, but mine was on the small side, which meant my therapist was doing my welcome foot ritual (bathing my feet) in an uncomfortably small space at the foot of the treatment bed. I felt she deserved more space.
Afterwards, the Spies met up in the Tranquility Lounge, which has four lounge chairs, magazines and teas. Decorated in silvers and greys, this is a calming space in which to relax, recuperate or meditate.
Sadly, we didn't see the two mountain gazebos for outdoor treatments with ocean views on our treatment plan or visit. Not to be thwarted, we had a drink on the hotel's terrace instead. We have to count this experience, rather than our spa day, as one of the wonders of the world. Sunset, ocean, mountains, whales -- that's what we'll go back to the Twelve Apostles for. And a bit of lava-shell massage.
If you're spa-ing at The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, we push you in the direction of The Sunset Mountain Serenade (180 minutes, R1 350 per person). Breathtaking views of the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range and the Atlantic Ocean as you and your partner are relaxed and then revitalised in outdoor spa mountain gazebos. Includes a champagne picnic, foot ritual and your choice of 90 minute massage. Best enjoyed during a summer sunset. (Weather permitting.)
The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa, Victoria Road, Camps Bay 8005, CAPE TOWN, South Africa, T: +27 (0) 21 437 9000
Visit the website here.
4th April 2014
Warm floors when you put your bare feet upon them; heated treatment beds; soft towels; attention to detail, so that your treatment room looks and smells beautiful when you arrive in it.
Cold floors when you put your bare feet upon them; therapists who use your treatment time to write up a list of product "recommendations" that they hope you will purchase.
Behind the scenes