What is a destination spa? It's quite simple. The spa is the destination. You go there for the spa. And you're not going anywhere else.
A destination spa is somewhere where every guest has turned up to spa. Just that. You can stay at a destination spa for as long as your need or budget prescribes (anything from a few days to a few months). You can relax. Or have fun with a friend. A destination spa is not a hotel with a pool that's a nice base for touring the Cotswolds. It's all about the spa.
A destination spa can offer everything from beautiful surroundings to comfortable beds, delicious food, friendly service and the highest quality of spa facilities - swimming pool, hydrotherapy pools, hot tubs and steam rooms - and spa treatments, which themselves can range from manicures and pedicures to Tui Na (Chinese medical massage).
A destination spa aims to hit every "restore" button you have. People tend to visit because they want to relax and unwind, and the emphasis is often just as much on pampering as on health and wellness. If you want a wrap and to eat cake -- or even to wrap yourself in cake -- there'll be a destination spa for you.
Some destination spas are set in remote countryside or mountain areas, without telephones, TVs or other things that can distract you from your focus on well-being.
Destination spas often let people in just for a day spa, too. But the difference between a hotel spa and a destination spa is that, at lunchtime, everyone will be in towelling robes. They will be for breakfast, as well. These are people seriously chilling, not fitting in a gym spree or sauna after their management consultancy. They are here to put their own needs first.
There are several varieties of destination spa.
There's the just all-out gorgeous. Here the setting is not Spartan or forbidding. The focus in on you, looking after you, and doing what's best for you. These destination spas are often like well-appointed country-house hotels, with the difference that anyone not in a towelling robe looks odd -- not the other way around. When the day guests go, those staying congratulate themselves on their wise choice of putting off a return to the real world for at least another night.
To name a couple: Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa, Leicestershire; Stobo Castle Health Spa, Peeblesshire.
Another type of destination spa is the health-focused retreat, beloved of so many. These spas take a "let's improve" approach to your health and well-being - think of them as wellness resorts. Destination spas with a focus on health offer personal medical assessments, body and facial treatments, complementary therapies, and diet and exercise advice, all tailored to your individual needs. Quite often, people choose to visit because they want to lose weight or make permanent changes to their lifestyle.
Many of these destination spas aim to nurture you in a more thorough way than simply pampering. They offer an opportunity to look at your whole lifestyle, and to work on a range of different aspects of yourself. The range of treatments on offer may sometimes be narrower, but a lot of energy goes into finding out about you, and your specific issues and needs. You're more likely to go for a series of visits or a residential stay so that you can have some consistent input into your overall health and well-being. Some holistic spas run meditation, yoga and other workshops and short courses that you can take when you're there, and take with you when you leave.
Choose your destination carefully; what do you want to get out of your trip. Pampering? Weight loss? Yoga before breakfast? All is on offer. Call ahead. If you get there and find activities or treatments you want are already booked up, you'll be disappointed.
When you arrive, do what you want to do. If that's to walk through natural surroundings for four hours every day before lunch, do it. If you want to eat alone, do that. Use your stay as a time to explore all the ways you can release your tension and stress. You can be as focused or as open as you want; you'll often find that, while you're there, there are opportunities to try out and learn about new things. Be honest about your lifestyle, and your priorities for your visit. The more you tell your therapists, the more appropriate their advice will be.
Resort spas offer a large range of activities and family experiences in extensive grounds. You'll find something for everyone in the family to enjoy, and get plenty of fresh air while they're doing it. Spa-ing is just one of the available options for pleasure. Which you can book in advance. For you. On your own. By yourself. Or with your partner.
22nd April 2013
Warmth and sunshine; spas which take me away to another country; fruit infused waters; beach-worth pedicures; deep tissue massages.
High footfalls; treatments that over promise and under deliver; heavy lunches; loungers drapped in used towels.
Behind the scenes