Aqua Sana Whinfell Forest provides a friendly, sociable space for day guests, and a perfect retreat for parents wanting an afternoon’s grace from their activity-filled holiday. Nestled on the edge of the Lake District in the Cumbrian countryside, this Aqua Sana has one of the region's only combined wet and dry spas. Take in the beauty of the ancient forest and listen to the soothing sounds of nature as you unwind in the outdoor heated pool. Enjoy the range of experience rooms and relax in a large thermal suite that is fun to share, with good Decléor and Elemis treatments, and spa days at affordable prices.
18 air-conditioned treatment rooms
Balinese multi-steam bath
Greek herbal bath
Indian Blossom steam room
Indoor and outdoor pools
Japanese salt steam bath
Our Spa Spy review
In a pine forest on the edge of the Lake District, Aqua Sana is part of Center Parcs Whinfell Forest. The spa is a 15-minute walk from the visitor car park and is housed in an attractive timber and glass building with full-height windows.
What's on offer?
Sliding glass doors open to reveal a light, bright reception area with plenty of seating and cabinets filled with spa goodies to buy and take home. Staff warmly welcomed us, handed us a locker key and invited us to help ourselves to a fluffy robe from a shelf. Aqua Sana flip-flops are for sale here, too, should you forget to bring your own.
Large wooden lockers line the walls of the changing rooms; there are plenty of faux leather benches, a spin dryer and bags for wet swimwear, as well as a toilet and several individual showers containing Aqua Sana shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. Mirrored vanity stations have hair dryers, tissues and hand lotion. The whole area is immaculately clean with a contemporary feel.
Aqua Sana's World of Spa is made up of 15 different spa experiences. Our spa host, Victoria, showed us the best way around, explaining the benefits of each experience as we passed by (there are also helpful descriptions on the walls outside each experience room).
We loved the foot spa, with its tension-relieving hot and cold water jets, as well as the numerous dry sauna experiences, including a gently-heated Laconium; Greek Herbal Bath with fragrant sage, camomile and rosemary, and a hot Tyrolean Sauna.
There are four steam rooms in the World of Spa: a black amber and citrus-infused Indian Blossom Steam Room complete with Hindu statues; a Japanese Salt Steam Bath which exudes positive energy; an azure-tiled Turkish Hammam with revitalising menthol and eucalyptus scents; and a Balinese Multi-Steam Bath with rainbows of mood-enhancing light, exotic aromas and Balinese artefacts.
Beside each room is an experience shower -- choose your experience from "fresh" to "bracing" -- to cool off between heat rooms.
Aqua Sana has a small outdoor pool heated to a balmy 34 degrees C and a large hydrotherapy pool with powerful water jets and gentle bubbles. Try to find time to step out into the pretty Zen garden, a peaceful spot to feel the sun on your face between experiences.
Aqua Sana takes relaxation seriously, with regular opportunities to sit down, lie down or even sleep. Try one of the rattan-style loungers dotted around, or climb inside a hanging pod and gently rock back and forth. One of the most popular features is the "quiet zone", a room containing waterbeds; perfect for a quick (or long) snooze between treatments. Hosts serve glasses of water, and there are bowls of fruit to munch on and magazines to read, too.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Decléor City Detox Face and Body Ritual (55 minutes, £79), a deep tissue massage and relaxing facial.
My therapist, Sara, led me to a cosy treatment room with stylish wooden floors and we talked through my consultation form.
As I lay face down, Sara smoothed massage oil over my back and used long, firm Balinese strokes to warm up the skin and relax my muscles; she even used her thumbs and elbows to ease areas of tension. She also paid some welcome attention to my tight calves.
Sara asked me to turn over onto my back and began the facial, cleansing my face with an oil cleanser and toner. Next up: an exfoliating scrub which she removed using warm mitts. Sara then firmly massaged my face with a light oil.
Sara applied a mask and, as it worked its magic, massaged my scalp. She cupped my ears -- an unusual sensation that caused a whooshing sound reminiscent of the sea -- then used hot mitts to wipe off the mask. Sarah finished the treatment by applying a serum, eye cream and moisturiser to my skin. My face felt smooth and looked glowing, with the effects lasting for several days afterwards.
During your spa day, you can eat in your robe in the bright and airy Vitale Café Bar, which serves a range of soups, tapas, salads, ciabattas, paninis, pasta dishes and indulgent desserts. We enjoyed a tasty Moroccan chicken salad followed by a naughty-but-nice pastry and cup of fresh coffee.
We also spotted several spa guests enjoying a fabulous traditional afternoon tea…
We loved / we didn't love
The variety of thermal rooms: Make sure you leave enough time to try them all out.
The size: Aqua Sana is a large spa spread over two levels.
The waterbeds: We may have dozed off for a few minutes after our relaxing treatment.
We didn't love:
The lack of attention to detail: There was no make-up remover or moisturiser in the changing rooms and no member of staff in the treatment lounge to answer any questions.
Who do you think would like it?
Couples, families and groups of all ages: Aqua Sana is a very sociable space.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded Aqua Sana Whinfell Forest a Good Spa Guide rating of 4 bubbles. The busy spa has lots of fun and interesting facilities and makes a great sociable spa day. The facilities are looking a little dated, though, and the spa can get crowded if you visit during a weekend or school holidays.