All posts filed under: Reviews

Best spas in Wales - The Spa Man

Six of the best spas in Wales

The best spas in Wales. When I was set the challenge to collate the best of the best I didn’t realise there were so many great spas to include. Wales is renowned for its stunning scenery, rugged mountains and remote windswept beaches. It’s also an ideal getaway for the keen golfer, the thrill seeker and those serious about spa. Combining history with heritage and dramatic wind-swept scenery, Wales in a well-kept secret for holidays and getaways. Renowned for its outdoor lifestyle, it’s popular with walkers who flock to the Wales Coast Path, the world’s first uninterrupted route along a national coast, which opened in 2012. More recently it’s become known for its adventure and thrill-seeking experiences including caving, canyoning, gorge walking and coasteering. Cardiff, the capital is a complete contrast with a vibrant night life, historic castle and monuments and a buzzing café culture set on a quayside harbour. For the ultimate getaway, head to the picturesque countryside to experience some of its stunning spa resorts which make the most of the surrounding landscape. The …

Mountain Spa - The Alpina Gstaad

Review: The Alpina Gstaad, Switzerland

The Alpina Gstaad occupies a commanding position on a hill overlooking the small resort of Gstaad in the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland. It’s an award-winning luxury property for the discerning wellness guest. Built into the side of a hill, the hotel façade presents the traditional look of a Swiss Alpine hotel. Inside it’s all a little different. Blending traditional alpine chic with modern art and contemporary design, the hotel is cosy, contemporary and a chic getaway for a few nights or more. During winter time the main draw is skiing, but many guests visit for the spa or to enjoy one of the two Michelin star restaurants: Sommet and Megu (more of those later). Arriving at the hotel you enter underground and it sets the tone for the journey which is cocooning, modern and had an understated energy. Contemporary artworks are perfectly positioned throughout the hotel which catch the eye, adding a unique touch to the design but it doesn’t have a gallery feel. The dark reclaimed timer is a dominating factor in the design …

Euphoria Retreat Spa - Sphere Pool

Review: Euphoria Retreat, Greece

Euphoria Retreat offers something distinct, unique and a little bit magical. This healing hotel and spa is set on a hill, in a forest in the rustic town of Mystras in the Peloponnese. Between mountains and olive groves, the views are sublime. But it’s the energy of the land and the sense of history in the location that really add to the experience. Mystras is a UNESCO world heritage site and its just 5 minutes from the city of Sparta. Created by Marina Efraimoglou, the 45-room hotel at Euphoria Retreat is modern, yet calming with rooms looking across the valley or out to the forest. It is designed to look a little like a monastery and has a soothing calming effect. The rooms feature super comfy beds, walk in shower and lounge chair. The superior rooms and suites are larger with more features and benefit from commanding views of the valley. Divine dining Eating is a key priority on any retreat and the Gaia Restaurant at Euphoria Retreat serves fabulous Greek inspired food that is …

Natura Bissé Spa at the Village - The Spa Man

Review: Natura Bissé Spa at the Village, London

The new Natura Bissé Spa at the Village in Westfield London is a welcome addition to the London spa scene. It’s the world first stand-alone spa for the award-winning Spanish brand which brings its high tech, high touch treatments to a new audience. The spa is light and bright, with a contemporary edge. Think white open spaces, beautiful curved designs crafted with wood and calm tranquility within. The concept of the Natura Bissé Spa at the Village is a Mediterranean inspired spa which has a boutique area where you can discover the whole Natura Bissé skincare range in one place for the first time in London. There are three treatment rooms and each features the brands signature concept 99.995% pure air filtered into the space – ideal to purify skin, body and soul. The treatment menu features an array of excellent face and body treatments – all targeted to deliver results in an instant. There are express treatments offered in the chair for a speedy turnaround when time is of the essence. I loved that there is …

St Michaels Falmouth - The Spa Man

Review: St Michaels Falmouth, Cornwall

St Michaels Falmouth is a one of a kind get away. It’s a 4-star deluxe resort combining a welcoming and relaxed vibe hotel, two great restaurants and a fabulous spa – it’s a place to feel good again. That’s the strap line they use in the marketing and I can definitely say after a two-night break I did feel good again. Situated opposite the blue flag Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth, Cornwall, St Michaels has 84 bedrooms that feature contemporary coastal chic, and manage to pull it off without being cliched. There are great rooms in the main house with sea view suites and spa garden rooms (to name a few) but your best bet is to book the Beach House. Recently renovated, its rooms offer are comfy, spacious and sparsely decorated with white walls, the odd splash of colour with coastal prints and chic fabrics. Expects a kettle, Nespresso machine, Cornish tea, shortbread, the comfiest bed and Elemis amenities. Oh and did I mention the terrace – yes when its warm (or a touch cooler) …

Song Saa outdoor-massage-koh-bon

Review: Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

You arrive at Song Saa Private Island by speed boat and from the instant you step off the boat, you know you are somewhere very special. Situated 45 minutes from the south coast of Cambodia, the resort occupies two small islands and has created an exclusive environment with a laid-back feel.  Guests and staff walk around barefoot which makes you feel a castaway, but with the benefits of cutting-edge luxury at your fingertips. You feel like Robinson Crusoe most of the time and you can be as engaged or disconnected as you like. Many guests retreat to the privacy of their villas and stay put. You can indulge in spa and fitness or embrace your spiritual side with a monk blessing by the sea. It’s even possible to renew your vows in a commitment ceremony. This resort packs the punch of any resort in the Maldives, but gives it an Asian twist with a difference. Eco-chic sustainability at Song Saa Sustainability is at the heart of Song Saa Private Island, the buildings have been crafted …

Kohler Waters Spa at Old Course hotel St Andrews - Beach - the Spa Man

Review: Kohler Waters Spa at The Old Course Hotel, Scotland

With its unique location on the world’s most famous golf course, Kohler Waters Spa at The Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews is iconic. A mecca for golf fans, the hotel borders the renowned 17thRoad Hole of the Old Course and is situated in a prime location overlooking the famous links courses. Just metres away from the Scottish coastline, the hotel has commanding views across West Sands Beach, the renowned location for the film Chariots of Fire. Built in 1968, The Old Course Hotel features 144 rooms including 35 suites. The hotel has recently undergone a complete refurbishment of its bedrooms which feature Kohler bathrooms suites and picture-postcard views of The Old Course and the university town of St. Andrews. New facilities for a healing spa journey   The Kohler Waters Spa has created a whole new spa journey, adding new treatment rooms, a fitness and health centre, spa café, reception area, lounge, relaxation space and beauty studio. The renovation work has also added a large extension featuring a new 20 m lap pool as …

ilapothecary London, Notting Hill - the Spa Man

Review: ilapothecary, London

ilapothecary is a delightful little store in London’s Notting Hill that promotes health, wellness and happiness.  A haven of peace, calm and tranquillity, you will find the full range of ilapothecary products, developed by the inspirational Denise Leicester as well as a concise menu of therapies for the mind, body and soul. The shop is a little townhouse with retail area in the front and centre. Up a few steps and you enter the lounge space which is both the pre and post treatment area and doubles as a wellness workshop space. There are some enlightened workshops on offer throughout the week including: 432 Sound Healing Breathing Class and Inner Relaxation Wellness Workshop (which often includes sleep talks) Yoga Nidra and Gong Bathing These are £15 – Redeemable against products in store. The treatment at ilapothecary Whilst drinking tea I completed the consultation questionnaire which is distinct. It doesn’t follow the traditional format you would find in a spa and focuses on energy, mood and draws on the concepts of the five elements to work …

Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay - The Spa Man

Review: Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay, Ibiza

The Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay has firmly established itself as the right place to stay in Talamanca, Ibiza.  It’s perfectly positioned to make the most of views across the sea on one side and towards a protected nature reserve on the other. This open plan style is bright and breezy and lends itself perfectly to island life and instantly creates a sense of place. The view to Ibiza Bay on a sunny day is hard to beat and from reception you look across the main pool, sun loungers and then the azure blue sea beyond. It’s the beating heart of the hotel with lots of guests who want to see and be seen. It’s also the site of the Nobu restaurant. It really comes alive at night. Near the entrance is Celicioso – a cool cafe serving great coffee and gluten free cakes and light bites. The banana cake is a must. Throughout the hotel you will find simple lines with white walls and exposed timber punctuated with comfy sofas layered with coastal blue cushions. …

LUX* South Ari Atoll - The Spa Man

Review: LUX* South Ari Atoll, The Maldives

LUX* South Ari Atoll is the perfect tropical island getaway in the southern part of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. Bringing the LUX* concept of a lighter, brighter holiday, the island’s stylish beach villas (just a few metres from the warm sea) and the over water villas (many with private pool) offer the ideal escape for honeymooners (naturally) couples and families alike. The resort is family friendly, but you can escape from the noise with ease. The island of Dhidhoofinolhu is one of the largest resorts in the Maldives at 2km long, and is surrounded by pristine white sandy beaches, even at capacity the resort appears virtually people-free. Arriving by seaplane at LUX* South Ari Atoll Arriving by seaplane at LUX* South Ari Atoll you glimpse the atoll and reefs, home to whale sharks and an abundance of tropical fish. Do take the trips on offer as the whale shark is a must-see. On land the accommodation is light and bright, with pristine white furnishings and the occasional piece of art to bring a splash …

Amansara, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Review: Amansara, Cambodia

Aman properties are as distinct as their destinations and Amansara is no exception. The personalised, warm welcome begins as you enter the gated residence and continues throughout your stay. The catch phrase from the staff is “welcome home” and they are right. You instantly feel at home as you relax into the chic vibe of the place. The mod sixties design of Amansara is a highlight and you may well feel like an extra in a James Bond film (from the Sean Connery days). Originally built in 1962 as the guest residence of King Sihanouk, by French architect Laurent Mondet, it accommodated visitors unable to stay at the royal residence nearby. Dignitaries such as former French President Charles de Gaulle, Jacqueline Kennedy and actor Peter O’Toole stayed here during its heyday, so it definitely has star appeal. Reimagined as a resort by Aman in 2002, the property celebrates its design with low slung chalets and has expanded to add more guest rooms which retain the retro-chic feel of the main buildings.  It’s a peaceful oasis in …

Villa Stephanie - the Spa Man

Villa Stephanie at Brenner’s Park Hotel & Spa, Germany

Villa Stephanie is a modern medi-spa with wellness at its core. Part of the Oetker Collection, and adjoining Brenner’s Park Hotel & Spa, it has a rich history of wellness and has now positioning itself as a unique entity, a ‘House of Wellness’ for the stressed, tired and over indulged amongst us. It’s partnership with Brenner’s Medical Wellness under the direction of Dr Harry F. Konig ensures that the programmes draw on the latest scientific advances and not only deliver targeted, personalised programme; these combine the perfect balance of exercise, medical knowledge with spa and wellness treatments which cocoon and care for the mind, body and soul. Think of it not as a hotel with a spa, but as a wellness retreat with rooms. Detox and weight loss are the two main focuses for treatment programmes, but everything is tailored to the guest and the new programme developed by Dr König ‘The Kings Way’ takes this to a whole new level. The accommodation at Villa Stephanie comprises 16 rooms and suites in the main building …

Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra - The Spa Man

Review: Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

French elegance, colonial style and a warm Cambodian welcome ensures that any stay at the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, Phnom Penh will be a great one. It’s all rather glamorous arriving at the hotel and you feel like a celebrity as the staff rush to greet you from your car. You are instantly whisked inside and offered herbal tea or a cool glass of wine. It’s a great way to arrive and once oriented you can take in the surrounding view. The vast reception area captures the essence of the city’s colonial past with touches of carved wood, relaxing sofas, loungers and the most incredible chandelier as a centre piece. The front of house staff were fantastic and cocoon you in comfort during the check in process. It’s a big international hotel and the lobby is always buzzing with activity, with guests coming and going from their various sightseeing and shopping expeditions. The concierge team will expertly arrange a trip to discover the history of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, book a local speciality restaurant (crickets …

Phum Baitang - Siem Reap Cambodia - The Spa Man

Review: Phum Baitang, Cambodia

Designed to replicate a traditional Cambodian village, Phum Baitang is a luxury all-villa resort with traditional wooden houses built on stilts. Set in eight acres of lush tropical gardens, it’s a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap – the main tourist town for the temples of Angkor Wat. Complete with rice paddies (they harvest their own rice for their restaurants), swaying palm trees and resident water buffalo, all you can hear is the gentle sound of the breeze in the tree tops and the sweet sound of tropical birds. Apparently, Angelia Jolie is a regular guest, so it comes with the celebrity stamp of approval. The traditional private villas The 45 individual villas at Phum Baitang are modern, contemporary and chic with a rustic look and neutral colours throughout. It’s very chic, like something out of a designer magazine yet reminas understated, with bare wooden floors, crumpled linen, hand-picked antiques and polished walls. The bathrooms are worth the room rate alone with free standing baths, walk-in shower and double sinks. Each …

Mandarin-Oriental-Hong-Kong-Hotel-Harbour-View-Room - the Spa Man

Review: Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

One of the world’s greatest hotels, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is the flagship property for Mandarin Oriental and commands a prime position on Victoria Harbour. Situated in the heart of Central district on Hong Kong Island, it really does live to its reputation, combining elegance with refined warm and friendly service. Reception is always buzzing with activity, but our check in was swift and efficient and in an instant we were escorted to our room. Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is big hotel with 434 rooms and 67 suites. Our luxury room with harbour view was offered picture perfect views. It’s definitely worth the upgrade on the room rate. The rooms are decorated to embrace the hotel’s oriental heritage and it was very spacious, and I loved the double vanity unit in the bathroom, there’s a large bath (big enough for two). The comfy beds are perfect to sleep off any jet lag. Dining delights Dining is a delight at Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. The breakfast buffet may add a few inches to your waistline (check …