What did I miss during lockdown? Being with people, having a haircut, reading real newspapers, and, of course, going to spas. Five months without a spa trip has reminded me that time at a spa it is so much more than a simple beauty treatment, whatever smirking MPs think. Spas are about wellness, about recharging batteries, about taking time out to think, and plan one’s health and life.
We were keen to see how spas are managing now they can open again, so headed to Weavers' House Spa at The Swan Hotel in Lavenham. This is a small boutique Five Bubble spa that the Spa Spies have reviewed regularly since it open five years ago. The spa has published details of its Covid prevention procedures on its website, so I could read up before my visit.
It’s easy to focus on what you cannot do or have under the Covid rules. Like all spas, Weavers’ cannot open its steam room or sauna yet, but it has introduced a new Re-invention Spa Menu. There’s a good range of treatment packages on offer that focus on relaxation and wellness. All sessions include 90 minutes of treatment time and solo use of the hydrotherapy pool for 30 minutes at £100. Nice and simple!
I filled in a detailed health questionnaire online before my visit and was pleased to find that it had been read and my therapist was prepared to handle my pesky lavender allergy.
A notice on the door of the spa reminds visitors to put their face mask on before entering the spa reception area. I dutifully did so and went in to be greeted by Laura, the receptionist. Laura (wearing a mask) took time to explain all the precautions they have taken to keep the spa Covid free. Once past the reception area it is not necessary for guests to wear a mask unless they wish to.
First, I had my temperature taken and was then invited to wash my hands at a handwashing station in the boutique area with Temple Spa cleanser. Laura escorted me to the changing room and pointed out the one-way system that has been marked out to enable guests to social distance. Two people at a time are allowed in the changing room, and each individual locker is cleaned after use. I only overlapped with one person for a couple of minutes as I changed.
In the relaxation room there was only one other guest, so we could easily social distance. Even later when there were four people in the room, we were able to remain at a distance. The doors were propped open so there was plenty of fresh air as well. I settled in with a berry smoothie. No magazines or newspapers of course, so worth taking your own reading matter.
The sauna and steam room are closed, but the hydrotherapy pool in the sheltered garden is in use. Guest are allocated 30 minutes of personal use. Laura cleaned the handrails between guests and came to tell me when it was my turn the use the pool. It felt quite luxurious having the pool to myself: the bubbles, the sunshine, the peace all allowed me to relax deeply. I just had enough time to dry off before my treatment.
My 90-minute Repair treatment combined a back and neck massage with a manicure and pedicure. Months of neglect meant I felt ready for some repairing. Chloe, my therapist, wore a visor and apron. There was a label on the door of the treatment room to confirm that the room had been cleaned prior to my session. Chloe washed her hands several times during the 90-minute session.
It is amazing how quickly you adapt to being with someone using a visor. In many ways it is easier than someone using a mask as you can see their complete face. I suspect it does get very hot for the therapist, but it did not affect how Chloe delivered the treatment.
The treatment bed had a water mattress (I love the gentle support these give) and cool cotton sheets instead of towels… perfect on a hot day.
I had forgotten just how good a proper back massage can make you feel. Chloe worked hard on my shoulders. Days of sitting at the computer and doing online meetings have not been good for my posture, so getting those knots worked out felt good.
For the manicure I sat in chair and Chloe positioned a cushion behind my neck. I got back on bed for pedicure as Chloe offered to angle the back of the bed so I could relax. I did and almost fell asleep!
By the end of the treatment I felt both relaxed and renewed, and looked much smarter. I also felt safe. There was enough Covid prevention in the spa (one-way systems, social distancing, handwashing) to be effective without it dominating my afternoon. It felt like I had the spa to myself… a bit like traveling business instead of economy.
Spas have not forgotten that we go to a spa to relax, refresh, and feel well. Did I feel safe? Yes, completely. Will I go back? Yes, as soon as I can! Spas need us to go back. They have all reduced the number of spa goers per day which will make staying in business hard. I hope and expect that all spas will take the sort of care that Weavers’ has to look after its guests, so the Spa Spies look forward to seeing you in a spa soon.