A couple of weeks ago I took my mum off for a morning at SenSpa, the spa at the Carey’s Manor Hotel in Brockenhurst close to the New Forest in Hampshire. It’s not the first time I’ve been – it’s the third, but I’ve never got round to writing it up on here – about time then I thought.
I booked my mum and I on the £75 each Morning Spa Escape. This gives you full access to all the water based spa facilities, the gym, the pool and a 30 minute facial or massage – between the hours of 8.30-12.30. That’s just enough time to soak yourself into oblivion, have your treatment and lounge about in the relaxation room before it’s time for lunch. Admittedly I haven’t got to the gym yet on any of my SenSpa visits!
Bubble, Soak, Steam – Repeat
We spend our whole time in what I like to refer to as the Bubble, Soak, Steam part of the spa. This consists of a steam room, a sauna, massaging showers, a very exciting (but blooming freezing) shower with flashing lights and storm sounds – and a big pool full of various massaging jets. Between us we can happily hop between these for a good 90 minutes. Sadly you can’t take photos in there, so there’s no photos of me bubbling my morning away, but I would have looked very relaxed if there was!
Although here comes my first useful tip : Get to SenSpa as early as you can and head straight to this area. This is what we normally do when we come and its normally deserted and blissfully peaceful – but this time we were running a bit late, got lured into having a pastry and coffee (also included) and had our treatments before we ‘took the waters’. This meant by the time we got to the BSS area it was closer to 10.30 and it was pretty busy in there, probably because it was a Friday and lots of weekend guests had arrived. It certainly wasn’t unbearable but we did have to squish up a bit on some of the jets.
The treatments included are either a 30-minute facial or a 30-minute massage – I normally book a facial as I’m not a fan of massage, but for some reason this time I didn’t do that and ended up getting a massage. It was actually very good – once we got past the bit on my back that every therapist is determined to attack, but that’s agony when they do. I’d gone in with a headache and a slightly out of place neck but I walked out feeling completely normal. SenSpa’s USP is that it is a Thai spa and all of therapists I have had offer me treatments have actually been from Thailand- which kind of makes me feel like I’m on holiday which is a nice added touch.
Useful tip 2 If there’s something you don’t like being worked on tell the therapist, and they will often avoid it. I never do this and spend a good 2-5 minutes of a massage clenching every single muscle in my back to try and avoid the pain as they dig under my shoulder blades.
Once we’d been massaged and bubbled until we were pruney, for my mum and I there was only one thing left to do – head up to the room on the second floor have a cup of tea and lie around in fluffy white robes for a while having a chat. In the summer there’s a nice outdoor area you can sit in to this instead. If you wanted to make your day more active though you could visit the gym or you’re in the middle of the beautiful New Forest so, if the weather is right, you could go for a wander round outside and try and spot a pony or two.
Useful tip 3: Pack flip flops, or something similar: The spa do give you little sandals to wear but they are very small – and, while you can go and get larger one, it’s quicker to just pack your own. Also, for some of the add on treatments you’ll be offered Thai pyjamas to wear. If you’ve never worn Thai pyjamas working out how exactly you stop them falling down is quite the feat. Here’s a mini guide
- Put them on with the long tie at the back. They will look huge – like one of those successful slimmer photos where they stand in their old trousers
- Pull them to one side so they are snug on one side and you have lots of material on the other. Now fold that material across your stomach toward your other hip.
- Now tie the ties round your waist.
At this point we are suitably chilled out and it was time to head home. If you can though book lunch at the SenSpa Thai restaurant as an add on to the package for £22. We had but there was a bit of a mix up with the booking and so we missed out this time, but it’s delicious.
Useful tip 4 Print out your booking confirmation as phone signal is never great in the forest. I couldn’t quite remember if I had booked lunch and when we got there my phone couldn’t pick up wifi to get my mails. The spa staff checked and were told there was no table for us, which wasn’t the end of the world – but actually turned out to be a mistake. I let them know and did get a very apologetic phone call from the spa manager that evening (and no, they had no idea what I do for a living or that I was reviewing them on this blog so top marks for caring about your customer). Had I not relied on technology though and printed out the booking I’d have known what I’d booked for and I wouldn’t have missed out on my yummy Mussaman curry!
So, that’s what to expect if you book a morning at SenSpa at Careys Manor. You can of course book whole day stays, or even longer packages as there is a hotel attached but as my mum lives very nearby a morning is just perfect for us. Find out more on their website or you can book packages via spabreaks.com