The act of indulging in a bit of spa time has been around for centuries. The Romans are generally credited with the idea – as they marched across their empire they established baths as they went – along with the Ancient Greeks, who also liked to indulge. But the belief in the curative powers of bathing in certain waters actually goes back to prehistoric times.
Archaeological investigations near hot springs in France have revealed Bronze Age weapons and offerings. In this country, ancient legends credited early Celtic kings with the discovery of the hot springs in Bath, now one of our best known spa resorts.
To be specific, a ‘spa’ is defined as being a location where mineral-rich spring water – or in some cases, seawater – is used to give medicinal baths. The word itself is derived from the name of the town of Spa in Belgium, whose ancient title from the Roman era was Aquae Spadanae, which may have taken some of its meaning from the Latin word spargere, meaning to sprinkle or moisten.
"It’s no longer
to visit a spa"
Dip a toe in
Today a spa means so much more. It didn’t take our forefathers long to work out that there was a lot to be said for spending a bit of time relaxing, rejuvenating and generally indulging in a bit of me time. Before too long, entire towns and resorts dedicated to bathing and other treatments were popping up, with Bath, Harrogate and Leamington leading the way.
For centuries, anyone who could afford it would make time to ‘take the waters’ and entire royal courts would decamp to resorts, intent of curing every possible ailment as well as generally boosting health and morale.
Once it was clear the concept of spas was here to stay, they became the preserve of the affluent and glamorous. For decades only the rich and famous could afford to swan around in a white robe being pampered from head to foot, while the rest of us only dreamed of what went on inside those hallowed and heavily scented buildings.
More recently, there has been a shift in perceptions and spas are at now the forefront of the holistic health and wellness movement. They are no longer exclusive to the, well, exclusive – people everywhere are enjoying the benefits of maintaining a balanced body and lifestyle.
Armed with some of the latest pioneering treatments and research into nutrition, mindfulness and wellbeing – and sometimes offering everything from perfectly tailored treatments during refreshing spa breaks to intensive boot camps for those determined to get leaner and stronger – the modern-day spa is so much more than a special occasion or hen-do outing.
Something for everyone
The first day spa was introduced by Elizabeth Arden in Manhattan in 1910 and the number of establishments that have popped up since is thought to be in the thousands in UK alone. Customers are no longer just wealthy women looking to be pampered, but encompass all demographics including men, teenagers and even children, looking for experiences at a range of price-points.
Whether you go with a group and stay for the weekend or pop in for a treatment on the way home from work, it is no longer considered unusual or decadent to visit a spa. And with the global industry worth almost $100bn, demand increasing and the range of treatments growing at speed, spa season isn’t going to end any time soon.
Over the next few pages we take a look at what’s spa options are on offer around the Shire area, as well as some treatments options you can have in your own home.
FIVE STEPS TO HEAVEN
There are so many lovely spa locations to choose from, knowing where to indulge can be tricky. In no particular order, here are a few of our favourites
1. The team at Lion Quays Hotel & Spa in Shropshire have created the perfect haven for you to escape and unwind. A warm and friendly welcome awaits you as you embark on a journey of wellbeing to soothe your mind, body and soul. Choose from a range of treatments included in the spa day and spa break packages, or book the treatments of your choice.
2. The Wild Pheasant Hotel & Spa in Llangollen has a warm hydrotherapy pool with thermal effects and powerful jets that will help to ease away life’s stresses and muscular tension, as well as a range of treatments and packages guaranteed to leave you feeling relaxed, refreshed and revitalised.
3. Quay Hotel in Deganwy is home to the Marina Spa, which offers a range of truly amazing experiences. You can de-stress and relax in the Relaxation Room, indulge yourself and allow the demands of your busy lifestyle to float away. Renew, relax and restore your energies with a sumptuous treatment or two.
4. Tucked away inside the Grosvenor Pulford Hotel, which itself is nestled in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, is a luxurious health, beauty and wellbeing oasis – Spa by Kasia. Ultimate relaxation is at the core of everything here and the spa team are specialists at helping you to unwind in luxury.
5. Visit Tre-Ysgawen Hotel in Anglesey to experience the latest in holistic and beauty therapies by ESPA and Guinot, as well as the spa’s very own signature treatments using Anglesey Sea Salt. Allow experienced therapists to indulge you in ultimate relaxation, allowing your mind, body and soul to be rejuvenated, revitalised and rebalanced.
Why you should hit the Spa
When swept up with the realities of work, family and everyday life, it can be all too easy to forget to take time for ourselves. But the benefits of doing so can be endless, and when escaping on a spa break, this ‘me time’ can feel so much more precious and valuable. Opposed to just taking a hot bath after an eight-hour working day and a two-hour commute, or having a glass of wine after the school run, after-school club and preparing three different dinners, a day spent in the spa can offer the mental and physical break we all need.
A break from everyday noise to a peaceful soundscape of waterfalls and whale calls allows your mind to switch off, releasing those all-important endorphins and allowing your body to let go of the tension and stress it so eagerly clings on to. The ambience and warmth of a spa are additional aspects that allow those shoulders to drop inches.
We call this experience the ‘domino effect’ – where one thing affects another and so on. As your mind switches off, your body does too, allowing you to recuperate not only physically but also mentally. And as I think we can all agree, mental health is just as important as physical.
BEST FOR STRESS
Massage is one of the most beneficial treatments for stress there is. Mental relaxation has its place, but we feel so much more at ease when our body gets the attention it requires.
A massage reduces muscle tension, improves circulation and provides relaxation, in turn reducing those stress hormones than can make us feel weary. That being said, everyone has their own preferences when it comes to unwinding, so while as a massage can be beneficial to all, some guests find taking an hour out of their day for a foot pampering pedicure to be just as relaxing.
NO EXCUSE NEEDED
The spa industry is always developing and improving, not only in terms of what individual spas have to offer their guests but also in how they sell themselves. We are always finding new ways in which to appeal to different clients.
Spa days, for example, used to be seen as a luxury and only for those with a disposable income and lots of free time. But they are now popular with a range of people, from those who realise how important it is to take time out for themselves to people looking for an alternative way to celebrate a special occasion. We’re always giving people that perfect excuse to unwind!
Do It Yourself
If you love a steam, dream of spending time in a Jacuzzi, can’t resist a sauna and can’t always get to your local spa, why not bring the spa to you?
An ever-growing number of companies are giving people the chance to bring relaxation into the heart of their homes with the installation of a home spa. It’s now quite common for people to rent a hot tub for a garden party or even while in a holiday rental, for example, and if you have the space having one permanently installed may be well worth the money. Saunas are another popular choice, with garden-based installations available. Here are a few local businesses making the most of this me-time boom time!
This company is the brainchild of Olly Davey, who wanted an outdoor wood-fired sauna that would last through the worst of the UK weather, offering the luxury, heat and enjoyment of a sauna right outside the house. ‘I wanted a beautiful, natural design that complemented the surroundings, allowing us to relax and enjoy the views from our garden while sweating nicely at 80°, before dousing ourselves with ice cold water,’ he says.
The majority of Heartwood timber comes from a privately owned, sustainably managed woodland on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park, and saunas are available to buy or hire. heartwoodsaunas.com
Better Living Outdoors
Award-winning dealer Better Living Outdoors supplies and installs high-quality hot tubs, saunas and garden products, offering amazing value and excellent customer service throughout the UK. The team can help you decide on the product for you, taking into consideration factors such as your reasons for buying a spa (relaxation, pain relief, partying or socialising) and whether you really need a six-person spa if you’re a household of two. They can also make sure you choose the right one for your space and budget. It is the area’s sole distributor for Be Well and Platinum hot tubs, and is also happy to rent one out to you while you’re on holiday. betterlivingoutdoors.com
Huts & Stuff
Best known for its shepherd’s huts, Huts & Stuff has been developing a sideline in the spa industry. The idea of using one of its huts as a sauna and hot tub came after the team delivered a hut to Norway. The combined Shepherd’s Sauna & Hot Tub hut – on wheels, of course – is a popular part of the range. It is wood-fired, heating up in about 30 minutes for the sauna and four hours for the hot tub. The lighting is solar-powered, so the whole thing can be completely off grid with only a water supply required for the hot tub. Both features are also available separately and since the huts are on wheels, they can be moved around your garden or field as required. hutsandstuff.co.uk
Established for more than 13 years, ABS Pools can cater for all your wet leisure needs. The team builds and maintains swimming pools and has a beautiful showroom with Jacuzzi hot tubs, chemicals and supplies.
ABS can assist you in the design of any new pool and take you right through to the end of your indoor or outdoor pool project. It also provides pool opening, or closing, maintenance and parts, and if you have an old pool it can refurbish it and bring it back to life.
The company is a main dealer for Jacuzzi hot tubs,
which are excellent for a bad back, insomnia, arthritis, or any other medical need, as well as just good family fun! It also supplies Endless Pools – small pools with an inbuilt counter current, giving an excellent swim or providing a professional training pool. abspools.com
LOCAL PRODUCTS TO TOP IT OFF
Many of spas in the Shire area are keen to promote those local products and businesses that can bring the finish touches to their guests’ spa experiences. Here are a few of the best
Llan Valley Soap
This small company produces a range of natural skincare and household products created with goat’s milk, honey and beeswax in the Vale of Llangollen. The gorgeous soaps, creams, balms and hair care products all, in the words of the business, ‘do what they’re supposed to without harming people, animals or the environment’. You can also try them out in your own home thanks to reasonable postage costs, and parcels come wrapped in beeswax rather than plastic. Check out the range at llanvalley.co.uk.
Elegance Natural Skincare
This family-run business was established almost by accident in 1985, after one member of the family found that spraying a little goat’s milk on her psoriasis while milking the family goats helped to smooth and speed up the healing of her irritated skin.
The first product the family developed was Goat’s Milk Moisturising Cream, which has gone on to help thousands of people across the world with eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and dry sensitive skin. A rich hand cream with honey was later added to the range, which has also proved popular with gardeners and people who work with their hands.
As the company’s range has grown, its ethos has remained the same. The family still make all the original products and more by hand to the traditional closely guarded ‘secret’ recipes, using the minimum of equipment. For full details of the range, plus stockists, visit natural-skin-care.com.
This business was founded on the common ambitions of its Shropshire-based owners to create a range of incredible products that promote positive change in the world. The philosophy behind the products is simple: to use the power of natural and organic ingredients to make you look and feel better.
The range is as natural and organic as possible, free of harmful chemicals, and responsibly and sustainably resourced. The products are as good for you as they are for the planet, and all the rich and indulgent soaps, creams, butters and balms are certified organic, vegan and cruelty free. For more information, visit powerfulorganic.co.uk.