Carden Park is a golfers’ paradise in the Chester countryside. The light and spacious spa offers ESPA treatments alongside a pool, thermal facilities and two relaxation areas with tropical fish tanks. Set over two levels, the 20-metre swimming pool is the hub of the spa with a sauna, steam room, monsoon showers and warm hydrotherapy pool with swan fountain. There are ESPA and Jennifer Young treatments, plus two relaxation rooms: one dark for snoozing, the other light for reading.
13 treatment suites including two dual rooms
Two relaxation rooms
Private ladies lounge
Complimentary refreshment area
20m swimming pool
Heated Tepidarium Beds
Our Spa Spy review
Close to the England/Wales border, Carden Park is a large resort covering over 1,000 acres of countryside. As you approach the hotel, a mile-long drive bends though a golf course and finally reveals the modern hotel, which was built in the 1990s.
The estate has a huge amount on offer, including an aerial rope course, an off-road driving course, laser clay shooting, mountain biking and crazy golf. If that sounds like too much work, try the spa. Set over two floors in the main hotel building, the heat facilities, pool and changing rooms are downstairs, while the treatment rooms, relaxation rooms and gym are upstairs.
What's on offer?
The spa reception uses bold maroons and reds to accent a calming space. A small seating area, with shelves stocked with ESPA products, is where you fill in your consultation form on arrival. The reception desk overlooks the swimming pool, giving a glimpse of what's to come.
The main changing rooms are spacious with plenty of wooden lockers, benches, three showers with a basic body wash, a vanity area with hairdryers and mirrors, and a private changing cubicle. Female spa guests are encouraged to use the ladies-only changing lounge upstairs -- perfect for a girly get together. To one side is a changing area with large lockers; to the other is a vanity area with mirrors and hairdryers. A lounge area has armchairs, sofas, a fridge stocked with water and fruit juice, and a television on the wall. Apparently, groups like to have music videos playing when they're getting ready to go out in the evening, but we turned off the daytime TV shows.
The 20-metre swimming pool is the hub of the spa; a double-height ceiling and blue lighting give a sense of calm and space. There are wicker tables and chairs along one end of the pool and thermal experience rooms just around the corner. Drift between the traditional wooden sauna, which would comfortably sit six, monsoon showers, heated tepidarium beds, and the deliciously warm hydrotherapy pool with a swan fountain to pummel tired muscles. Unfortunately, the steam room was out of use when we visited.
The two relaxation rooms upstairs offer some more serious chill out time. Both rooms are painted purple and have similar purple seats and loungers. One room is kept dark -- perfect for snoozing -- and the other is lighter so you can read or flick through a magazine. There's also a refreshment station with hot teas and cool fruit juice which you can help yourself to, a purple nail bar and a gym.
Tell us about the treatments
We had the ESPA Thai Poultice Massage (55 minutes, £69) and the Jennifer Young Facial (55 minutes, £60).
My therapist, Claire, collected me from the relaxation room and took me to our purple treatment room. Claire explained that she would use both her hands and coconut poultices during the massage. I stepped out of my robe and settled on the treatment bed.
Claire started the treatment massaging my back with her hands, then introduced the hot, fragrant poultices. She quickly tapped the poultices over my back, then moved into a slower rhythm: rolling, kneading and stroking. The heat and pressure felt great on my tired muscles. Claire worked her way down the backs of my legs and asked me to turn over. She used the same pattern, alternating hands and poultices, on the front of my legs, arms and décolletage. My skin felt very smooth and, with the coconut poultices, I was cocooned in the smell of an exotic, faraway land...
The Jennifer Young facial is designed for people who are receiving treatment or are in remission from cancer so is very gentle on the skin. Claire explained that she would use only three organic products which are very nourishing.
Claire cleansed my skin with a rich, unscented balm using slow, considerate and feather-light touches. She used warm mittens to remove the balm and massaged my face with a silky serum, again using very gentle and relaxing stokes. Claire left the serum to sink in and massaged my arms and hands with a body oil -- I could choose between one for "smooth skin" and one to calm "itchy skin". Claire removed the serum with warm mitts and used the cleanser again, this time as a soothing moisturiser. The facial was super nourishing. My skin felt like it had soaked up all the moisture and was glowing.
Lunch is served in the Vines Brasserie. This is just outside the spa, but most people eat in their robes. The menu offered four options when we visited: chicken caesar salad; salmon; goat's cheese with a cous cous salad; and jacket potatoes. Our package only included one course so we opted for the goat's cheese and cous cous -- very pretty and filling. You can also order sweet treats, wine and champagne, coffee and tea, and fruit juices.
We loved / we didn't love
The hydrotherapy pool and tepidarium beds: We visited midweek and had them all to ourselves for a little while.
The unusual treatments on offer: There's something to suit everyone.
The huge amount of activities at the resort: Combine an action-packed morning with a soothing afternoon in the spa.
We didn't love
The television in the lounge: When we arrived, it had daytime TV playing: something we want to get away from when we go to a spa.
The spa décor is bold and quite dated: A little bit of updating could be in order.
Who do you think would like it?
Social spa goers and hens: The separate lounge is geared up for groups; you could even book in for afternoon tea here.
Families: During the school holidays, Carden Park offers lots of activities for children and there are kids' swim times in the pool. We'd love to return with our little ones in tow.
Shoppers: Carden Park is only 30 minutes from the Roman city of Chester.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded Carden Park Spa a Good Spa Guide rating of 4 bubbles. The wet and thermal facilities are comprehensive and well thought-through, the spa has a good range of treatments, and all the staff we met were down-to-earth and friendly. Carden Park is one to bring your girlfriends to, so you can enjoy the spa together.
visited in November 2016 and awarded it .
Fine dining in Redmond’s Restaurant; informal dining in The Vines restaurant, two bars serving light bites and afternoon tea.
196 rooms and four room types available, from King Rooms to King Suites.