Mother’s Day Gift – The Aqua Sana Spa. Ple-e-e-ease.
Considering I know that a day at a spa is all about relaxing, I wasn’t particularly relaxed at the idea of going to the Aqua Sana Spa at Center Parcs Whinfell. Partly because since I started working from home, I struggle to get up the enthusiasm for going anywhere at all, but mainly because I wasn’t sure of the “rules” and worried about making an arse of myself. But when I got to the spa, a nice woman showed me around and introduced me to everything (not literally – “Keris, this is the Turkish Hammam; Turkish Hammam, Keris”) and I felt much happier.
I decided to ease myself in gently with breakfast. After a lovely latte and a chocolate twist I felt more than ready for… a little snooze. First, I tried out the reflexology footbath, which was just lovely, but didn’t exactly liven me up so I made a beeline for the water beds. Now I don’t think I’ve ever been on a water bed before and they have such a dodgy 70s swinger reputation that I wasn’t sure if I’d like them, but oh my goodness. Unbelievably comfortable. Warm and cosy and, yes, womb-like. I knew I had to try out some other stuff, but I really didn’t want to get up. Eventually, I convinced myself to read a chapter of my book and then to get off the bed entirely, but I wasn’t happy.
I’d been keen for a swim in the outdoor pool, but it was actually rather disappointing-looking, just an oblong outside the building looking more like a council lido than anything particularly spa-like. I was hoping for something a bit magical and maybe grotto-esque and I just couldn’t convince myself to strip off and get in, so I headed for the indoor hydrotherapy pool instead. I gave myself a bit of a pummelling with the jets and then I discovered I could do what I call “tethered swimming” (after an episode of The Simpsons) – the jets were so strong that even though the pool was really small I could swim on the spot. Once I’d exhausted myself in there (about 5 minutes), I sat in front of the zen garden (but indoors) to dry off and read a bit more. I should just mention here that every seat I sat on in the entire place was ridiculously, blissfully, stupidly comfortable. I don’t want to keep going on about how hard it was to drag myself back up every time I sat down, so just take that as read from now on, okay?
I was a bit nervous about the steam rooms/saunas, since I’ve never really been in one before, but the nice woman who showed me round told me that they were arranged in order of heat, so I went back to the first one: The Laconium. It was nicely warm, brightly lit and sweet-smelling, but so pleasant as to be a bit boring, so I went next door to the Greek Herbal Room, which was lovely – warm and sweaty without being oppressive. Dark too, so I didn’t have to worry about my flabby bits/shaving rash (TMI?). After a ‘Tropical’ shower (you can have a cold shower too, but that was not fun) and more reading, I went looking for whichever room had a menthol smell, since I’ve had a cold for a few weeks and thought that might shift it. Well, I think I tried every single door in the place before eventually finding it was the Turkish Hammam (“You again!” it said.) (It didn’t really.) The air in there was like a physical presence (as was the hairy bloke sitting in the corner). I was dripping with sweat (and my nose started to run) almost instantly, which was a pretty odd sensation. Not unpleasant though. I would’ve stayed longer, but my feet felt like they were burning, so I hauled myself out, into the shower, and then for another sit’n’read to allow my face to go back to its natural colour.
At lunch – a gorgeous salad with roasted peppers and mozzarella – I tried to remember when I’d last felt so relaxed. I think it was under anaesthetic. After lunch – and more wafting, sitting and reading – I went for the pre-booked Harmony Massage. Now I love a massage and this one was one of the best I’ve ever had, but my already relaxed state meant that I almost nodded off a few times, which was a bit embarrassing. At least I didn’t snort awake or blurt out anything random (I once said “The kitchen bin smells of cabbage…” as I fell asleep) or if I did, the massage therapist was too polite to say. Post-massage, I was ushered into the ‘Relaxation’ room and then it was time to go…
And if I’d thought it was hard to get out of the chairs, I had no idea how hard it would be to leave the spa entirely. I kept picturing myself snoozing on the water bed forever. But I mustered enthusiasm by promising myself a walk through Center Parcs and a Starbucks at the gate while I waited for the bus. Center Parcs was lovely (we have to go back). The Starbucks was closed. And I fell up the stairs at the train station. Relaxation over. Back to reality. But it was glorious while it lasted. And now I have to convince David to buy a waterbed.
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Keris visited the Aqua Sana at Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, where a Spa Day costs £69 plus any Treatments you choose.