Mum and I went for a Spa Day at the Devonshire Spa today. Here’s how it was.
We arrived at 9am, were given a robe, towel (too small, I like BIG towels, this was just a towel, it did wrap round me so it wasn’t tiny and it was fluffy and soft and nice but if it had been bigger it would have been perfect) and some flip flops each and shown the changing area and lockers and told to come back down to the lounge when we had got changed. Hm spa days. This means getting pretty much naked in a place that, in my mind at least, is likely to be full of skinny people. Hm. Remind me why I thought this would be a good thing to do. I reluctantly put on my two piece swimming costume pulling the vest as far down as it would go and making damn sure that my belly was securely tucked into the shorts. Then I laughed at myself, walked out of the changing cubicle, caught a glimpse in the mirror and decided it was all fine. I still have thunder thighs and hippo hips and there’s a sort of miniature spare tire round the middle that wibble wobbles a bit (ok, a lot) BUT these thunder thighs and hippo hips have taken me round two marathons this year and there are definite signs of muscle, of quite a pleasing shape in the lower leg and above the knee. I look like an athlete because I am one.
Anyway, I digress. We sat in the lounge and were given a health and lifestyle questionnaire to fill in – how much alcohol do you drink, do you smoke, how much water do you drink… bla bla. We also got coffee and a biscuit. Then we had a little nosey around the pool area and the steam room etc. Quite soon it was time for our treatments – you get 2 25 minute ones included in the price of the day. I was taken to one of the downstairs treatment rooms and had my salt scrub first followed by a back, shoulder and neck massage. Both were divine but these things also come with dilemmas. This is not something I do very often so I never know what to expect. What to take off and what to leave on is always tricky. Thankfully the therapist (is that what you call them?) was lovely and carefully explained that because the salt scrub tends to get everywhere she had left me some disposable paper pants out on the table. She left the room leaving me to strip (easy bit) and put the paper pants on. Who knew paper pants could be so anxiety inducing. What if they don’t fit? They’ll be made for skinny people! Breathe! I freed the pants from their wrapper and looked at them. It is impossible to tell which way round they should be and which are the leg holes and which the top. Trial and error (3 times) eventually revealed the right (possibly – in any event the only) way to get them on but I couldn’t really tuck my tummy in. Hmph. I jumped on the table and pulled the cover over me with seconds to spare. It must have been ok unless of course they train these people to not laugh come what may. The salt scrub was absolutely lovely and I was totally relaxed and un self conscious until the therapist suddenly said ‘Would you like your tummy doing?’ WTF? You can’t rub salt scrub into my tummy – you’ll sink, you’re hands might get lost in layers of blubber forever; and there’s not enough salt scrub. ‘Yes please’ I said. And now I have a tummy that is as smooth as a baby’s bottom.
The treatment rooms are nice and have a shower cubicle built in so after the salt scrub I could just rinse off before the massage. That gave me the chance to abandon the paper pants and put my own little shorts back on. Much better with the (now totally smooth and lovely) tummy tucked in. After the treatments we sat in the rather grandly titled relaxation lounge which is actually a little room upstairs which leads to the two upstairs treatment rooms. It has 3 deckchair like loungers in it. We sat absorbed in our books for a while and then decided to go for a swim. We moved downstairs and bagged two of the 4 loungers by the pool. We had the pool to ourselves for quite a while and when people joined us we moved to the whirlpool for a bit. The pool is small – maybe 10m x 6m so when you have 3 people in it trying to swim it’s full and with 4 it’s too crowded really. Otherwise it is lovely though and because the whole things is like a barn with stone walls and wood ceiling I spent a fair bit of time on my back just looking at it.
We spent a bit more time just lounging around, popping back into the pool, using the steam room and finishing off with another session in the whirlpool. Then we got showered and dressed and sat in the lounge for a little while before heading over to the Devonshire Hotel for afternoon tea (included in the Spa package for an additional 10 quid).
I had a lovely day and now I am home I am quite tired. I swam for a total of about 90 minutes today in 3 blocks and I never felt like I was working hard, I was just swimming along lost in my own thoughts, watching the light play on the wood above or listening to the water around me. Now though I can feel the exercise, I’m a happy sort of physically tired.
So the Spa. At 99 quid per person it’s not cheap but that does included the two treatments, drinks and a light lunch (which we didn’t have because we upgraded to afternoon tea instead). The Spa itself is small and there are bits of it that are beginning to look a bit tired – the shower door in the upstairs shower had a chunk out of the wood, the decking at the end of the pool where the loungers were is looking tired, the locks on the changing cubicles were temperamental. Because of the small size of the spa there are other things which aren’t perfect: I felt a bit like we were perhaps hogging the loungers by the pool a bit – there are only 4. The pool is full with 3 people in it and the sauna and steam room are also small – too small to spend any time in with people you don’t know very well really. There are only 3 showers – 2 downstairs and one upstairs and the changing cubicles are tiny. It made me long for the space of communal changing rooms – none of this privacy to get changed nonsense. It’s all very British – no nakedness please. Funny how I get concerned about not being able to tuck my tummy into paper pants but am more than happy to get changed in communal changing rooms. Anyway, I’m being picky here – I had a lovely day and it was never really crowded. There are water taps and plastic cups outside the relaxation lounge and in the pool area and you can get warm drinks as well as water in the lounge. The lounge is a lovely place to sit and look out over the gardens and tennis courts.
There is a gym too but I didn’t bother. I had vague ideas about popping onto the treadmill for a bit but I was just happy sitting, swimming, drifting…
I’d definitely recommend a day at the Spa for a special occasion and if you’re going, upgrade to the afternoon tea – you might as well. Who knew doing nothing could be so exhausting. I’m ready for bed!