Tag Archives: treatment

Health | The budget spa experience you have to try

13510960_10153587157897617_7263956946886594826_nI’m pretty good at living on a backpacker’s budget now, but sometimes you just fancy a bit of luxury. I’ll never be the kind of girl who wants to spend thousands on an expensive getaway when I could make my money spread a bit further and still treat myself. For me, the real luxury is being able to escape and live well for longer instead of enjoying a short blast of freedom, but not everyone has the option of taking a year out to go backpacking, nor does everyone like the idea of budget travel. Now I’m back in the UK, I don’t plan to stop travelling and until my return to Australia, I’m breaking up my time with trips away. Before I went away, my mum and I used to have regular spa days together, every few months we would head away for a day of complete rest, relaxation and a heavy dose of pampering. Both working stressful jobs, it was lovely to just have a day where we didn’t have to think about work, or anything else other than where our next massage was coming from. I really believe in the importance of looking after your own health and well-being by keeping fit, eating well and allowing time to really relax and recuperate. Visiting a spa is a great way of really giving you a day off from life, a chance to turn your phone off and really get some space.

I’ve posted about this spa experience before but I still can’t believe how many people don’t seem to know about the amazing deals available. Even when you need a day of pure indulgence, there is always a great offer that can help you get the most out of your money. So, what am I on about? I’m talking about Aqua Sana Spa at Centreparcs, now it may not be the first place you think of when you start planning a spa retreat but perhaps it should be. I’m not usually one for chains but in this case I’m happy to make an exception for such an amazing experience, I have yet to find a spa that rivals the quality I’ve found there, and trust me, I’ve done the research. We always go to the Elveden retreat, which is our closest, and I convinced it’s the best one after experiencing the Sherwood spa and finding it a bit lacking. Surrounded by woodland and beautiful countryside, even the drive there is relaxing, and from the second you walk in the door you are being endlessly pampered by the amazing staff there. We always say it must be a wonderful place to work, so relaxing. We always check out the deals available at the time on the website, but usually end up paying around £100 each for a full day in the spa, with breakfast and lunch included, and a luxury treatment.IMG_6553This time, we went for the Brighten and Glow spa day for two, which gave us the chance to try out the Elemis skin brightening facial and luxurious Frangipani hot stones massage – and yes, it is every bit as fabulous as it sounds. I love that the treatment pampers every bit of your body and uses only products not tested on animals and using minimal parabens – it’s much better for the environment and it’s much better for your health. Before our treatment, we were treated to a delicious breakfast in the Vitale cafe where we indulged in pastries and coffees before hitting the spa. We had a few hours before our treatments so we decided to start with a swim in the outdoor heated pool, this is always such a treat when the weather outside is rubbish. We stood with the high pressure jets massaging our necks and floated around the empty pool before heading into the steam rooms. Now this is the bit that sets Aqua Sana apart from all other spas I have experienced, it offers 15 different spa experiences including a range of steam rooms with essential oils and herbs from all over the world and saunas. My favourite rooms are the Japanese Salt Steam room, the Balinese and the Indian steam rooms – I just love the gentle floral aromas and they really feel like they’re doing your skin good. You can rinse off afterwards with one of the multi-sensory showers to rejuvenate your skin and refresh before checking out the meditation room or zen garden.

When you’re taken through to your spa treatment, the ladies give you a completely relaxing experience tailored to your skin type and preferences. They’re extremely attentive and some of the best beauty treatments I’ve had have been at the Aqua Sana, with sensitive skin like mine it’s important to have a therapist who listens. The whole experience is utterly luxurious and you come away feeling like a new woman, my skin felt like a newborn baby’s and my muscles were finally relaxed after two years of hostel beds. After a tasty lunch, it was time for a waterbed nap – always a highlight of the day – especially if you can score one of the bigger outdoor beds which are especially nice when you’re wrapped up in your complimentary robe. Throughout the spa, there are several stations where you ca reapply products throughout the day and test others, sometimes the therapists will also bring round products for you to try which is lovely. Everything is thought of when you are at the spa, you don’t spend a single second thinking because everything is already as special as it could be. There are limited numbers allowed in the spa, which really helps to keep the exclusive feeling as some just come for a morning or afternoon session.IMG_6625One top tip not to miss out on during your visit, the Discovery Sessions are something I had never attended until my most recent visit but are something I wouldn’t miss in future. These short sessions take place periodically throughout the day and led by a beauty therapist, they teach you about the Elemis and Decleor products and how to apply them. As a big beauty product lover, this was a good excuse to try out some of the other amazing products they have to offer. But it also meant we found out about an amazing deal on a Decleor multipack of products – normally selling at over £50, it was reduced down to £19 with further discounts for attending the session. It was an amazing deal, so I treated me and my mum to a pack each – we would never have known about the dramatic price reduction had we not been in the session, so they’re definitely worth attending for discounts on the ranges. All in all, it was a fabulous day, and long overdue as a birthday present to the both of us. If you ask me, you can’t beat a mummy-daughter day spent eating delicious food, being pampered and relaxing on waterbeds. Click here to book your spa experience at Aqua Sana, or to read more about what treatments are available.

Can you recommend any other luxury spa experiences for those on a budget? What’s your favourite spa treatment?

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Review: Heading to the Aqua Sana Spa to feel revitalised after a busy weekend

After a busy weekend meeting up with my university friends, a crazy night out of dancing in high heels, drinking cocktails and a day of eating food that is very bad for me, it was time to detox. With Friday and Monday off either side of the weekend, I was excited to have a few days off work to really relax and let my body catch up on itself. A big part of this was booking a spa day at the Aqua Sana at my closest Centerparcs (Elvedon).

My friend and I booked the pair’s Spa Day with Decleor Aromatherapy Mind and Body Re-energiser treatment. This gave us all day to enjoy the spa and all of its gorgeous steam rooms, sauna, outdoor heated pool and waterbeds. My favourite steam rooms are the Turkish Hammam to start because the menthol scent is great for clearing the lungs with some deep breathing. This followed by the Indian Blossom room, which is my absolute favourite – the scene is divine! Then the Japanese Salt Steam which is also  gorgeous and great for building up a sweat before a cool shower and heading outside to the newly-refurbished pool.

We enjoy a spa day every few months as a treat, but it has been closer to a year since the last one – life just got in the way this time! But it was great to go back after a longer break because the pool had clearly been replaced with brand new pressure jets, seating areas and massage sections which were amazing. Plus the fact that this time it was rather cooler outside meant the heat of the pool was completely enveloping like a warm blanket. But I think one of my favourite parts has to have been the nap I had on one of the water-beds – I definitely need one of these in my life! They offer total relaxation and within seconds of laying my head upon the pillow, I am drifting away into a deep sleep.

We had breakfast and lunch at the Vitale restaurant in the spa, both provided as part of the deal we booked. We enjoy a delicious raspberry and vanilla pastry with hot chocolate and coffee. Later, at lunch, we enjoy fresh paninis in soft, white bread with fillings such as roasted vegetables with grilled halloumi and pesto, and roasted peppers with brie accompanied by fresh juices and water. We followed this with a treat of a chocolate, hazelnut praline truffle cake each – to die for.

After a few more hours relaxing around the spa and warm showers, we headed to the treatment rooms for our Decleor Aromatherapy Mind and Body Re-energiser. Described as “A heavenly massage of easing the tension from mind and muscles. Skin is treated to the wonderfully soothing sensation and exquisite aroma of a warm Decleor Aromaessence Balm. The expert touch of your therapist’s hands melts away stress and eases tense, tired muscles to unwind body and spirit leaving you with renewed energy.”

The treatment was divine, it started with a back massage that led to arms and legs being moisturised and massaged with oils, before finishing with a facial. For one hour I was truly in heaven and my muscles were oh so grateful after the stresses and exertions of the last few months. My shoulders appreciated the massage more than anything and it was lovely to have my face pampered and left softer than a baby’s you-know-what after the oils, masks, creams, lotions and potions had been applied.

I had a wonderful time at the spa and for the money we paid – £90 each – it was incredibly good value. We had a treatment worth over £70, two meals, access to the spa, steam rooms, sauna and pool all day and robes and towels provided. I have been to other spas in the area and have yet to find one that offers quite as good a deal, and such good quality  every time. Elvedon also offers far better a spa than the Sherwood Forest spa in Nottinghamshire, from my experience. I’m already counting down to when I can book the next one!

Pictures from The Good Spa Guide.

Panorama – Dying for a bargain

Last night’s Panorama was particularly horrible and even now I am still thinking about it. I usually watch the programme on Monday nights because of the content and also for shorthand practice, but this episode stood out to me for some reason.

Panorama investigates how our clothes – including those of some big high street brands – are really made. It finds evidence of shocking working conditions and an industry that still puts profit before safety. More than a thousand garment workers died when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed in April. But reporter Richard Bilton discovers people working 19 hour days, security guards who lock in the workers and factory owners who hide the truth from western retailers.

Although focusing on a topic that is already well-known among consumers, just continually ignored, it was shocking to have the extent of the problem highlighted in the investigation. Hearing in detail about the Rana Plaza collapse and how the workers had been locked in and unable to escape was both tragic and sickening at the same time.

It became worse as the investigators discovered that locking the workers in was in fact common practice, as was forcing them to work 13 hour shifts without a break and countless hours of overtime that was never officially clocked, nor were they paid enough to justify it.

The treatment of these workers is criminal and horrific to see, but it still doesn’t stop them from going to work because they are trapped in the never-ending cycle of poverty that keeps them coming back to earn a pittance that barely covers their rent or bills.

Sadly, it also fails to stop the majority of shoppers, myself included, from buying the items made in these sweatshops. Despite knowledge of these practices – why is it still so easy to forget when faced with that new item from Topshop or Primark?

I am as guilty as anyone of this.

But it certainly gets me thinking about what my life would have been like, had I been born in Mauritius and raised there instead of in the UK – I could have been scraping buy on pennies earned on 13-hour shifts in factories instead of working for a newspaper and educated in a university. Amazing really. Essentially the difference between Third World Problems and First World Problems.