Came as a day spa guest with my husband on a special offer at the end of September 2012 which included use of the spa and also a treatment, and had been looking forward to the visit. The upfront booking team were excellent and very professional and I had high hopes of the visit. I am an experienced spa visitor and have been fortunate enough to visit some of the the best spas in the UK - this is not one of them. The spa building itself is very nice, a lot of effort has gone into the design, and it was very clean, so credit to the housekeeping staff, however the lack of care and attention, noise and poor management really let this place down.
On arrival, we were expecting a warm spa greeting in line with the excellent pre arrival service, instead we were greeted in a very brusque manner by the receptionist who gave us a single towel and took our vouchers with little or no explanation of the layout or treatments etc. We had to ask for robes, slippers were not offered and the towels were of poor quality, very thin and when I asked for a second towel I was told it was strictly one towel per person or I could pay £2.50 for another towel - this was reinforced with notices in the changing rooms. We were told very dismissively to go and fill in a form on a separate table - no explanation and very DIY - overall not a good start, and we were very taken aback, especially after the very good pre arrival booking service. Reception was also full of people chatting and gossiping - mainly men who seemed to know the receptionists and be talking about cars and local stuff - not customers, and we were made to feel like they wanted to deal with us as quickly as possible so they could go back to chatting.
We made our way down to the pool only to be greeted by a screaming baby for the next 20 minutes, and at that point we found out that they let children and babies in - not what is usual in an upmarket spa. Nothing against children or babies, but not in a luxury spa. This is when we realised that this is more of a hotel leisure facility with treatment rooms than a proper luxury spa. To add to the 'family values' there was also a very unsavoury health warning sign on the ladies changing room door before you enter the pool warning about the health risks of both adults and children swimming with diarrhoea- again not quite in the spirit of a luxury spa - made one wonder why the sign was there - yeuck. The pool itself is nice, and well designed, looking out onto a pretty walled garden and there is a small sauna and a larger steam room on poolside, but the jacuzzi part of the pool was too cold to sit in. It was also very noisy as sound carried, and there were no spa staff in sight, and no signs asking patrons to keep the noise down. Changing rooms were OK - again nothing special. Overall we were disappointed as the reality did not quite match up to the web descriptions.
However we decided to go with the flow and head off for our treatments - something we had been really looking forward to. Unfortunately due to the design of the spa you have to leave the pool area, walk up stairs, go past reception and then up again to a spa waiting area on a mezzanine floor directly above reception. The waiting area was a miserable space - nasty green 'trendy' plastic chairs, opposite a nail bar, the floor of which was covered in red laundry bags and no refreshments (in fact no water coolers in the pool area, changing rooms or waiting area), and no one to help or direct you. It was also in a corridor so people walking past, there were DIY consultation forms (never referred to once filled in), and as it was a mezzanine (with a glass wall so very 'exposed') above reception, all we could hear was the reception staff gossiping below with a series of their friends and generally being very noisy - not remotely relaxing - in fact really fustrating. There was one receptionist who was trying to be professional and who kindly got me a glass of water, but she was the exception. It was clear there was no management in place to make the space quiet and serene and also the staff still seemed to have huge amounts of time to chatter.
Due to the layout, I choose not to wear my robe as it felt too public so I had to get dressed all over again which was a total pest. When we were finally called for our massage (10 minutes late) then the girls were very nice, but it was impossible to fully enjoy the massage due to the continual noise from the reception and also the corridor outside the spa rooms as every time a member of staff went past it sounded like a herd of elephants on the laminate floor - not what you want when having a relaxing treatment - one member of staff was continually backwards and forwards and seemed very flat footed. Such a shame as the massage rooms were actually quite nice and the treatments nice.
When the massage was finished, we were ushered into a relaxation room to help ourselves to drinks and to relax. No chance of this - there was no chilled water, tea bags were still in their twinings cardboard boxes, it was a DIY kettle (empty) and no water source in sight and the beds were covered in towels that looked pre used and yet again you could hear the noise from reception. Eventually, totally frustrated we decided to cut our losses and leave. As part of this offer we should have also got a glass of prosecco, at no time was it offered and by that time we did not even want it. Usually by this time at the spa I am relaxed and happy and wanting to spend a fortune and purchase oils and lotions - not this time. When we left, nearly 3 hours after we had arrived, the same chaps were still chatting at the reception desk and the same amount of noise was present. We did consider complaining but by that point we just wanted to leave. This is not a cheap place and it is clear that a lot of effort has gone into the design, but it is the little things and the management which let it down.
Good spas should be welcoming, quiet, very professional and a relaxing space. The only good things I can say for this establishment is that it was very clean and the pool was a nice design, however the management need to focus on making this into a customer orientated and quiet/relaxing space. We had been looking forward to this for weeks and left very annoyed and feeling like we had wasted our money. My normally liad back husband was incensed we had even visited and wished we had not.
Overall, we were exceedingly disappointed and won't be back - we don't live near by so we had made a 100 mile detour to visit for our spa day on the way back from holiday. I would imagine if you just want to use the leisure facilities it is fine, however after my experience I would not recommend the spa. Which is a real shame as they use Aromatherapy Associates products which are excellent and they usually vet the spas that use them - what is more frustrating is with good management and a few refinements this could be really nice. The only benefit of the visit is that as it was an offer then it as a reduced price, however even this was too much. On a more positive note, the spa at Trelowarren on the Lizard in South Cornwall is excellent as are the holiday cottages. The other spa I would recommend is The Carrick in Scotland which is the same price and so much better if you are seeking a destination spa.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Relax, unwind and rejuvenate in the luxurious surroundings of The Cornwall Hotel, Spa & Estate; an exquisite 4* hotel & spa set in 43 acres of tranquil, wooded parkland in St Austell. Just a breath away from many of Cornwall’s most popular sandy beaches and attractions; The Cornwall Hotel is the perfect base to explore the best of Cornwall. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Cornwall Hotel, Spa & Estate St Austell