What spa would be brave (or foolish) enough to host the Spa Spies for a Good Spa Guide Christmas party? One that didn’t know they were coming, of course.
Supreme Spy had unearthed a local spa with a hot-tub just about large enough to hold all the Spa Spies at once. I could think of nothing nicer than spending time in a spa without having to whip out the audit sheet and mark every single aspect.
So, what kind of spa do Spa Spies pick? The Imagine Spa on Blofield Heath in Norfolk is set in a sweet arts and crafts style house with a spa garden. The drawing room is full of cosy sofas and chairs where we all met and filled out our forms, while lunch was served in the open plan kitchen where we could watch out chef create our delicious salads – a heavy Christmas dinner is not a good idea before spa-ing. My vegetable couscous was extremely tasty, which others loved their black sea bream or Caesar salads.
The changing rooms were a little crammed, but those who didn’t have public changing skills could use the changing cubicle or toilets. Some would find a semi-naked work party a little awkward, but you soon forget you’re all in swimsuits with no make-up as you set about enjoying the day.
The thermal area overlooks the garden and pond. Even in winter, this is very pretty. We bubbled away in the hot tub watching the sun splash orange on the trees, swapping spa stories – my Russian Banya experience always produces a giggle, plus we’ve had recent action packed missions to the Maldives and Lanzarote. It was a bit like the scene in Jaws where they compare shark bites, only we were flaunting the opposite: smooth spa-happy skin.
We dipped in and out of the very steamy steam rooms, doused ourselves in ice and jumped under the shower. After lots of heat, we wandered damply around the little gravel-pathed maze in the spa experience garden, chancing upon delightful water features, chimes, and eccentric sculptures. In autumn, there’s a sign inviting you to pick blackberries, in summer and spring there are herbs to smell and nibble. I was happy sitting on a bench watching robins hop about thinking: This is crazy! It’s December and I am sitting outside in my swimming costume!
The outdoor relaxation pods were equally charming, with a Romany/Bedouin feel: lots of silky, velvety cushions, draped curtains, beanbags and daybeds for lounging about and ordering hot chocolate or Prosecco.
We all had similar treatments – an aromatherapy Raindrop massage. My treatment room was in one of the house’s larger bedrooms and my therapist asked me to choose from six essential oils. I was drawn to fragrant rosemary and geranium. I lay down on the massage bed and my therapist massaged my feet, legs and back, splashing the oil on like rain. It was deeply relaxing. We reconvened in the relaxation room after, slightly dazed and happy, vaguely aware that it was already dark outside and the end of the Spa Spies’ Christmas Party.
Although I’m all for a boozy Christmas knees-up, this was for me a much more elegant way to slide into the holidays, in a state of utter relaxation and bon homie, and without the hangover. It was also a chance to hang out with fellow Spa Spies and plan for 2017. We’re pretty excited about what the New Year will bring.