Why fly to Thailand? Lose the spa miles and go to the New Forest instead. The authentic Thai influence sets SenSpa apart from other spas, as does the impressive hydrotherapy area. True flavours of Thailand are delivered in every aspect of your journey: The Zen Garden’s Thai eating experience; the Thai-trained therapists; the beautiful decor. And possibly the most authentic Thai massage you’ll find outside of Thailand. We loved the Thai massage so much we crowned SenSpa with our Good Spa Award for “Most Marvellous Massage 2010”.
- XXL robes available
- 19 treatment rooms with two double rooms
- Rasul mud room
- Relaxation room
- Quiet room
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Herbal sauna
- Crystal steam room
- 14m swimming pool
- Experience showers
- Ice room
- Hammam room
- Vichy showers
- Thai Temple Studio with classes
- SenSpa boutique
- AlphaSphere Deluxe
- SenSpa Organic Therapy
Our Spa Spy review
SenSpa at Careys Manor is in the heart of the New Forest. In these quiet pastoral surrounds, SenSpa is a sumptuous and authentic Thai-themed retreat. Inside the red-brick Careys Manor Hotel, two Buddha statues signal the entrance to the spa.
What's on offer?
SenSpa is a veritable maze of Thai-themed goodness, scented throughout with a signature fragrance with hints of lemongrass.
SenSpa's reception is large, with lots of seating. A receptionist offered us a drink as we filled in our consultation form. To one side is an extensive boutique selling products including SenSpa's own range, and the caring staff were happy to help.
The changing rooms have high ceilings draped in creamy fabrics with dark wood accents. They have private changing cubicles, banquette seating, two vanity areas stocked with SenSpa products and hairdryers, and lots of lockers with a robe and slippers inside. The showers are quite cramped but were clean when we visited. They were well stocked with shampoo and conditioner so you can wash off after your swim.
The first wet area has a 14-metre ozone-treated swimming pool, a large rectangular Jacuzzi and a small sauna and steam room hidden behind bamboo panelling. A skylight lets in the passing sunshine, while slick dark tiles and twinkling lights in the ceiling add a modern touch.
Spa guests can also use the lovely thermal suite. Swipe your electronic wristband and head through the glass door to two floors of spa heaven. On the ground floor is a sunken hydrotherapy pool with swan jets, submerged loungers and a whirlpool. A moody steam room has a huge amethyst crystal at its centre to promote healing. You can also try the herbal sauna and a wonderful shower experience room with options to cool off in a tropical storm, sea storm or ice storm.
Before your treatment, you can try out SenSpa's new AlphaSphere Deluxe (at an extra cost). The space-age-looking pods combine sound and colour therapy, aromatherapy and vibration to encourage deep relaxation.
SenSpa has two further traditional relaxation spaces. Pre-treatment, you can wind down on wicker loungers under a bamboo ceiling in the sprawling and bright relaxation room; help yourself to herbal tea, coffee and juices. Post-treatment, the dimly-lit Quiet Room is perfect for snoozing with long, comfortable loungers and blankets to stay warm.
The Thai Temple Studio with ornate mirrors has a full schedule of classes throughout the week, ranging from yoga and Pilates to circuit training. The gym is not huge, but is well equipped.
Tell us about the treatments
We had the Sen Fusion Massage (90 minutes, £110); a full body massage which combines Thai, ayurvedic, shiatsu and Swedish techniques using one of SenSpa's own-brand essential oils.
My Thai therapist, Vassana, collected me from the spa reception and took me to our large treatment room. This was decorated in traditional Asian style with patterned textiles, teak accents and leafy clouds of bamboo.
I settled on the massage bed beneath the printed sheet and Vassana began by wiping steamy hot towels on my feet and back. She started the massage kneading my back, shoulders and neck, with particular focus on the areas she sensed needed extra attention. She moved on to my legs before I turned over, so that she could tend to my stomach, arms, hands, feet and scalp.
The combination of techniques made for an interesting massage: Japanese shiatsu used finger pressure, ayurvedic techniques added tapping, squeezing and kneading, Swedish targeted the deeper muscles, and Thai provided utter relaxation.
I left feeling well aligned and alert; the Sen Fusion is certainly a good option if you want to upgrade your usual relaxing massage to something a little more intense and effective.
SenSpa at Careys Manor has an extensive treatment menu, with many Asian massages including Thai and ayurvedic specialities. Organic facials use either Willow or SenSpa products. Body treatments include rasul and hammam rituals, Vichy shower, and traditional wraps and scrubs. SenSpa has options for men and beauty finishing touches, too.
SenSpa has a fabulous Thai restaurant, Zen Garden, which is mostly used by spa guests. We were very comfortable in our robes at lunch, but the restaurant is more formal in the evening. The menu offers a broad range of fresh, flavoursome dishes including Asian meat and fish dishes, salads, soups and vegetarian options. We enjoyed a light papaya salad followed by chicken satay and Pad Thai. The juices and smoothies are tasty, too; we recommend the watermelon, strawberry and lime.
Overnight guests can try the hotel's AA Rosette Cambium Restaurant, where Chef Alistair Craig creates modern British dishes in a chic space; our lamb three ways was perfectly cooked and beautifully presented.
We loved / we didn't love
We loved the Thai theme that runs through every element of the spa; it feels very authentic. If it was a hot day, you might even be able to pretend you had made that 11-hour flight to Thailand.
We loved the experience showers: The tropical storm, sea storm and toe-curling ice storm options made us screech and giggle like rather unrefined Spa Spies.
SenSpa seems to be a victim of its own success. Quite a lot of people were enjoying the spa and, while it didn't affect our enjoyment of the larger spa spaces, the changing rooms felt a little crowded.
Who do you think would like it?
SenSpa is very flexible so fits well for solo spa-goers and couples, all the way up to larger groups. The spa has a friendly atmosphere and we noticed that other spa guests were quite happy to chat.
The treatment menu is very good, so even the most experienced spa-ista will find something lovely to try.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We gave SenSpa at Careys Manor a Good Spa Guide rating of 5 bubbles. The facilities are well kept and varied, the customer service is attentive, and our authentic treatments were a delight. It really is like finding a slice of Thailand in the New Forest.
SenSpa’s Zen Garden Thai restaurant serves authentic Thai cuisine.
Ten room styles available in Careys Manor Hotel, from Manor Rooms to The Manor Suite. Room rates from £189 per room per night (double occupancy)
Weekdays: 7am - 9pm; Weekends: 7am - 8pm