A lot of hotels seem to add a couple of treatment rooms, and a pool to their existing gym facilities and call themselves a spa. I've been looking for a day spa in Sussex for ages, and was recommended this one, by a friend, but I was a bit disappointed. Im a member of the local Bannatynes so could have just gone there - but thats not really what I was looking for.
Im not fussed by luxury treatments to be honest. An Elemis facial or a thalgo body massage is the same no matter where you go, and you are never far from a Bannatynes if this is what you want. Plenty of salons have treatment rooms where you can have these things done.
What Im looking for is somewhere which is luxurious in itself. I want to be on my own, with my Kindle. Somewhere you can relax, and walk between the hydrotherapy area and steam room, then doze on the beds, before a quick sauna and a relaxing tasty lunch.....you get the picture. I want lovely bath robes and slippers, an abundance of fresh clean towels and peaceful music. I'd like tea and coffee and iced water available for me to help myself to. I want a relaxation room and maybe I will book some treatments, but at the end of the day, I want the place itself to be the treat.
What I got was a hard plastic lounger by the tiny pool. It was cold in there as well, and I ended up with a towel and my robe over me as I tried to keep warm and relax reading my book. The relaxation room was small and quite peaceful, but the chairs were fixed in one position and I ended up with a crick in my neck. Someone elses tea and coffee cups were left in there all day.
I used the gym which was small but well equipped, and I had a bit of a swim but it was a bit grubby in there, and I just didn't feel comfortable.
The sauna was tiny and right inside the changing rooms. It felt a bit like sitting in a garden shed, and was a bit tatty. The steam room was bigger and a good temperature, but it was one of those plastic ones which felt cheap and nasty, and when you shut the door, the whole thing shuddered sending water raining down on you from the ceiling. It was like sitting in a container!
There is no hydrotherapy area (which to me is the definition of a "spa") so having left the steam/sauna there was no plunge pool. The only option was to use the showers in the change room which were pretty grotty and the supplied shampoo was nasty.
I booked a spa day which came with lunch. I had to order at the start of the day and the options were very limited. Sandwiches and jacket potatoes or a salad. I ended up with a caesar salad which was made with chicken that was clearly bought in ready cooked and was watery. It had been shown a grill as it had those neat grill lines - but it tasted like the stuff you get in Tesco. The lettuce was brown around the edges.
I didnt want dessert which was included, so I had a coffee instead.
I paid £75 for the day which was quite cheap. Included were 2x 30min treatments, and I had a facial and manicure - both of which were well done by the therapist who was lovely. I had wanted 2x 1hr treatments when I booked but was told they couldn't fit me in for them - although who knows why as I seemed to be the only person there on a spa day. There were occasional visits from people using the gym or having treatments so it looks well used.
I had the treatments at the very end of the day which was my choice, I like to be able to relax beforehand.
In short, the staff were the real shining light in this place. Nothing was too much trouble and they did all they could to make me happy. The day was nice - but mainly as it was my opportunity to sit all day and read on my own without thinking about my 9 month old baby, the housework and the fact that Im about to return to work after maternity leave.
Was I disappointed? Yes. Would I go back? probably not. I'm fairly certain I will be able to find what Im looking for somewhere else. Otherwise I will get myself to Ragdale and be done with it!
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