Spa: what is it good for?
It’s that time of year when spas really come into their own and if you haven’t experienced a spa, I hope that this post will encourage you to give it a try. All those ancient civilisations knew what they were doing with their baths and hot springs!
I only discovered the joy of spa a couple of years ago when I went to the Aquarias Spa at Whatley Manor Hotel near Malmesbury with a small group of fellow students from a massage course. Previously I had dismissed the idea of going to a spa, thinking it wasn’t my sort of thing and that I would find it boring lying around all day (I’m not a beach holiday sort of person), but as the opportunity presented itself, I thought I would give it a go.
I remember feeling a bit awkward and disorientated at first, but soon relaxed into the experience. I especially enjoyed sitting in the warmth of a hydrotherapy pool out in the elements on a wintry afternoon chatting with my friends, and resting on a warmed stone recliner in the peace of the tepidarium. I had been feeling jaded when I arrived, but after four hours of steam, dry heat, warm water, bubbles and lying around I felt rejuvenated and wished I could go to a spa every day! I haven’t quite managed that, but I was fortunate enough to enjoy several hours at Nirvana Spa in Wokingham recently and felt that same gradual relaxation from tiredness to noticing that I was laughing more readily. It prompted me to write about it here in the hope of encouraging others to try something new and potentially beneficial.
A spa can be a bewildering place if you are not used to it, and the facilities provided vary enormously, but most have a thermal suite, hydrotherapy pool and tepidarium as well as treatment rooms.
A thermal suite usually includes a steam room, plunge pool and sauna. The idea being to stimulate your system by going from heat to cold. It is best to start in the steam room, which can be particularly beneficial for the respiratory system and skin, before taking a cold dip in the plunge pool and then spending some time in the dry heat of the sauna to sweat out impurities and toxins. Rinse and repeat as often as you like!
A hydroptherapy pool is like a giant jacuzzi with jets and bubbles at different heights to massage your body top to toe, easing tension and any aches and pains. The water is comfortably warm to promote relaxation. Some spas have pools or jacuzzis outside, which is a real treat whatever the weather.
The tepidarium is a warm place for quiet relaxation. Talking is discouraged, so that you can meditate or doze in peace on a warmed stone recliner, which is more comfortable than it sounds. The tepidarium is best enjoyed after the stimulation of the other spa areas or after a treatment or a meal.
My impression is that even just a few hours at a spa is truly therapeutic and a great antidote to the winter blues. I would highly recommend giving it a go, no matter what age you are or whether you go alone, with friends, family or a partner. You may be able to take advantage of a good value membership package at a local spa and treat yourself to regular sessions, whether that is daily, weekly or monthly. These are the local spa facilities that I know of, but alas I can’t claim to have tried them all out: Coppid Beech Hotel, Bracknell; Crowne Plaza Hotel, Reading; Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa, Newbury; Holiday Inn, Reading; Littlecote House, Hungerford; Milton Hill House Spa, Abingdon; Nirvana Spa, Wokingham; Regency Park Hotel, Newbury; The Swan at Streatley; The Vineyard, Stockcross.
I hope that you are suitably inspired to visit a spa near you or to go more often in order to relax and recharge!