All posts filed under: Reviews

Banya No.1 London - The Spa Man

Review: Traditional Russian Banya at Banya No.1 London

Tucked away on a quiet little back street in Shoreditch is the traditional Russian Spa, Banya No. 1. Offering a truly authentic take on the Banya experience, it’s all about the sauna and you are assured of getting all hot and sweaty. Most guests come to try the Parenie treatment which is set in the specially designed sauna. You literally lay down on the sauna bench and get whipped with leaves until your blood boils. It’s much more pleasurable than it sounds and it is a gentle therapy (to start) with light tapping of the leaves (mostly oak) accords the body. The banchik uses the leaves the gather hot air from the sauna and wave this across the body. Focussing on the back, legs and then feet, it’s somewhat soothing and comforting to begin with, then your body temperature starts to rise. Resting your head on the beech with a pillow of eucalypt and birch branches, these have been dipped on cool water and give a little relief. It’s when the focus shifts to the …

Vair Spa at Borgo Egnazia - The Spa Man

Review: Vair Spa at Borgo Egnazia, Italy

Pioneering a psycho-emotional approach to spa, the team at Vair Spa at Borgo Egnazia has created an award-winning wellness offering that focusses on happiness, drawing on the culture and traditions of Puglia, Italy. Choosing to visit a wellness destination that bills itself as a psycho-emotional spa raises just as many questions as it does gives answers. I will guide you through my experiences. It was truly life-changing. Deeply rooted in the traditions of Puglia, the resort and hotel of Borgo Egnazia has been designed as a traditional local village constructed from tuff stone and is surrounded by millennia-old olive groves. It subtly blends old world charm with hidden contemporary touches that gives the property a true sense of place in the heart of the Italian countryside. You may have read about it in the press already. The hotel shot to fame in 2012 when Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel chose the property for their exclusive celebrity wedding. Beyond the notoriety of the celebrity press, the hotel and spa have received numerous international accolades. But its how it …

LUX* Belle Mare Pool - The Spa Man

Review: LUX* Belle Mare, Mauritius

Modern, light and airy, LUX* Belle Mare is a welcoming hotel, refurbished by designer Kelly Hoppen and is quite contemporary in its look, but remains comfortable and homely at the same time.  The taupe palette used throughout ensures that the decor has raised the bar for Mauritian hotels and will stand the test of time in the design stakes. The resort boasts the largest pool on the island which is at the heart of the hotel complex.  It has four stunning restaurants which not only offer plenty of choice for informal dining by the sea but they excel in more high cuisine at the Indian smart by Vincent or the fabulous modern Chinese Duck Laundry. The food was excellent. Staff are personable, friendly and efficient and always on hand to help. Highlights, like at any LUX* property include Café LUX*, ICI for delicious homemade ice creams in the afternoon and the Rolls Royce food cart in the gardens. It’s the unique touches that make LUX* resorts so special and truly memorable. The beach scene is more …

Blue Lagoon Iceland

Review: Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The famous waters of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland are rich in minerals and algae that are excellent for time out, relaxation, healing and skin conditions. Famed for its blue-tinged geothermal seawater (which hovers around 37-39 degrees Celsius), you can bath outside, breathing in the pure fresh air of the Arctic Circle. It is a most incredible experience, and one which was made more amazing for me when combined with an in-water massage. Positioned on a floating mattress and covered with a blanket (yes, in the water), I was expertly manipulated and massaged until I drifted into a state of pure bliss. It was snowing and zero degrees, but I was completely unaware of the outside elements. This really did set itself apart from any other treatment I have ever had. It only lasted 30 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity. Afterwards I was left to float around the lagoon, experience the steam cabin, sauna rooms and the exhilarating waterfall massage. Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater is a part of a unique system where Iceland’s …

Jurlique Store London - The Spa Man

Review: Jurlique, London

Jurlique has opened a smart new concept store in the heart of London, right on Oxford Street. Walking through the door you are instantly transported to a place of calm and serenity. The heady scents of the natural products helps to lower the anxiety levels win an instant. For even greater calmness you can book in for a facial or spa treatment using Australia’s favourite natural brand – Jurlique. It should be high on your list of must-visit destinations. Especially as you traverse the crowds of Oxford Street. Treatment Review I booked in for a Best of Both Worlds Treatment which combines a back, neck and shoulder massage with a relaxing and revitalising facial. The treatment begins with a foot soak then a much-needed relaxing back and shoulder massage using Japanese Mint Oil. I was given a choice of three but this one really hit the spot. You then experience a thoroughly pampering facial using the natural products from the Jurlique range. Deep cleansing and light exfoliation prepare the skin for a fabulous mask and some …

Banyan Tree Lang Co., Vietnam - The Spa Man

Review: Banyan Tree Lang Co, Vietnam

Banyan Tree Lang Co is situated in a quiet, remote stretch of coastline in central Vietnam about an hour north of Danang. Isolated and peaceful the all-pool villa resort is a tranquil retreat from the crazy daily life in Vietnam’s main cities and tourist hot spots. It provides the perfect getaway for a few days or even longer. There’s plenty to do for the active traveller, with watersports, cycling and day trips to the imperial city of Hue and the heritage town of Hoi an. For a more leisurely break you can laze by the main pool, sun bathe on the beach or retreat to your private pool villa for total harmony. Take a cooking class, yoga, archery or more, there are over 140 activities on site available, or take some time out in the spa. With the sister property, Angsana just next door, it increases the choices for food and daily activities. The service is friendly, warm and attentive and remains faithful to the Banyan Tree concept. The main buildings are modern and a little …

Thai Square Spa London - The Spa Man

Review: Thai Square Spa, London

Thai Square Spa brings a touch of Thailand to a new location in Northumberland Avenue. Situated in the beating heart of London, it’s a great day spa where you can spend a few hours relaxing and revitalising mind, body and soul. Housed within a beautifully converted Victorian Turkish bath, it’s more spacious than its former site in Covent Garden and gives a great sense of space for relaxation post-treatment. The decor evokes visions of modern style Thai spa. It’s not a cliche with heavy wood and fake artefacts. In some places it is lively and vibrant with bright tiles in hues of copper and red. There are a few traditional wood carvings, gilt-hued murals and a well placed buddha or two. The facilities include five Thai Massage treatment rooms, six Ritual Massage rooms and one vast VIP Suite Treatment Room with private relaxation zone and steam room form just part of this restorative haven. Other standout highlights include a Vichy Shower Treatment Room, Himalayan Salt House and Ice Fountain. Signature treatments include the Temple of Jade Hot Stone Body …

Angsana Balaclava Mauritius - the Spa Man

Review: Angsana Balaclava Mauritius

Angsana Balaclava Mauritius occupies a stunning spot on the scenic northwest coast of Mauritius on the tranquil shores of Turtle Bay. The all-suite resort is a romantic getaway emulating a traditional Mauritian style with thatched roofs and natural stone. Rooms have sea or mountain views and showcase the sunset every evening.  Owing a great deal of design inspiration to its Asian heritage, Angsana Balaclava is a bright and breezy boutique resort that’s a perfect sunshine escape. With a small beach and a selection of sun beds and a boat house for water sports, you could easily spend your whole holiday here, but just beyond the gates are some of the major sights including the Pamplemousses Botanical Gardens, Grand Baie, La Bourdonnais and the capital Port Louis. The central feature of the Angsana Balaclava Mauritius resort is the main pool. The rooms benefit from large sitting areas, terraces, a huge comfy bed, spacious bathroom and large bath. There are a couple of restaurants (one for lunch by the pool and Oryza for breakfast and evening meals). It’s …

House of Elemis - The Spa Man

Review: The House of Elemis, London

The House of Elemis is the showcase for Elemis, one of the spa industry’s great British success stories. The House of Elemis (on the site of its former flagship day spa) has totally reimagined the space creating a new iconic location for a brand that is aiming for the stars. Positioned as the creative heart of Elemis, the Mayfair townhouse retains the warmth and charm of the brand with a totally new look and feel. Modern, light, airy and contemporary, every element of the The House of Elemis has been thoroughly considered, designed and conceptualised for the client, ensuring that it matches the original brief to reflect the brand pillars: the very best that science and nature can offer. New ideas, new concept, new look From the treatment menu to the design, fixtures and fittings, nothing has been left untouched and The House of Elemis has introduced innovations including the Speed Spa, a new retail concept and the launch of the VIP Penthouse Suite which all provide a new vision for the Elemis brand. The …

Four Seasons Anahita - Mauritius - Spa Villa

Review: Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita

Situated on a quiet stretch of coast on the east coast of the island, Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita is a luxury personified. With its own private island, calm lagoon and pristine white beaches guest accommodation includes a range of secluded private pool or garden villas. The resort makes the most of its coastal setting offering water sports and diving activities for all ages. The pristine beaches with comfy loungers and attentive waiter service ensures that there’s little more to do than enjoy a cocktail or two. Dining is a relaxed affair in the main buildings looking across the fish ponds with a choice of Italian, modern grill, or the relaxed beach bar restaurant Bambou. THE SPA: FOUR SEASONS MAURITIUS AT ANAHITA: A highlight of any stay at Four Seasons is the spa and Four Seasons Mauritius at Anahita doesn’t disappoint. The Spa is set amongst luscious tropical spa gardens with fragrant Frangipani trees, a host of Hibiscus trees in full bloom and stunning Bird of paradise flowers. The team makes full use of the …

Elemental Herbology at Ockenden Manor

Elemental Herbology at Ockenden Manor reviewed

Ockenden Manor has launched a new spa menu featuring a range of treatments from Elemental Herbology and it’s a match made in spa heaven. Ockenden Manor is a cosy Elizabethan manor house with exposed wooden beams and low ceilings situated in the picturesque village of Cuckfield, East Sussex. The spa is built inside a 19th century walled garden and the modern design of the building is a complete contrast to the main hotel building. And as a stand-alone spa it’s is one of the South East’s most impressive. It’s a true countryside setting which benefits from nine acres of parklands and gardens plus all the mod cons you would expect from a contemporary spa. I visited in November 2016 to experience the new partnership with Elemental Herbology. The team at Elemental Herbology has developed a brand new treatment menu, connecting guests with the five elements through a series of bespoke treatments which feature its award-winning products and unique rituals. Elemental Herbology at Ockenden Manor The crowing glory on the spa menu is the bespoke new …

Galgorm Resort and Spa - the Spa Man

Review: Galgorm Resort and Spa, Northern Ireland

Galgorm Resort and Spa is just over half an hour from Belfast and is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Situated by the gorgeous river Maine, and set within 163 acres of lush parkland it’s billed as Northern Ireland’s premier luxury hotel and spa. You will most certainly be greeted with a warm welcome and attentive service, it’s a big property with a big heart and passionate staff. It’s recent expansion and the launch of the Thermal Village has added an additional 48 guest rooms but at no point do you feel crowded or over run with people. Three restaurants and two bars (including a gin and champagne bar) means there are plenty of options for dining and drinking. The River Room offers a classy menu with refined service, Gillies has more hearty fare and Fratelli Restaurante has an Italian menu featuring pasta and pizza. Countryside walks or day trips to the north coast are within easy reach or you could simply lounge in the spa day in day out. …

Finca Cortesin - The Spa Man

Review: Finca Cortesin, Spain

THE HOTEL Opened in 2008, Finca Cortesin is an elegant, refined country house hotel that’s both relaxed and welcoming, offering five-star service in a subtle, personal style. A world away from the typical Costa del Sol hotel, it offers a modern mix of hacienda style retreat with a definite nod to its Andalusian roots. Boasting beautiful landscapes gardens, magnificent views to the mountains and sea and a causal air of exclusivity, it’s a perfect escape for a few days – or even longer. The hotel has 60 suites which are tastefully decorated with calming neutral palettes. The junior suites experiment a little more with splashes of colour and patterned wallpaper. Each with its own terrace, complete with table chairs and sun loungers. You could easily stay in the confines of your room, but with lots of activities (including golf) plus five pools and a beach club you will never be bored. The beach club had a great causal beach side dining restaurant. Pool and sun lounges it’s the best of both worlds and the shuttle …

Park Hotel Igls, Austria - The Spa Man

Review: Health Retreat Parkhotel Igls, Austria

Health Retreat Parkhotel Igls has a global reputation for delivering quality and excellence in the field of Modern Mayr medicine. Situated just outside of Innsbruck in the Austrian Tyrol, the medical retreat has adapted the traditional Mayr cure for the modern age, combining the best of western and complementary medicine. Cutting edge technology and medical expertise are complement more traditional therapies like massage, yoga and Kniepp treatments for the targeted regeneration of the digestive system. Blending detox, cure and escape, the team at Health Retreat Parkhotel Igls have developed a programme that balances diagnostic medicine, with a professional approach and caring attitude. Managing director, Andrea Gnägi explains the philosophy, “We are not a wellness centre or medical hospital, but are very specific medical health centre combining both quality and a commitment to find solutions to the problems that people have.  It’s a perfect combination between medical expertise and the comforts of a resort. We are the best at giving people friendliness whilst attending to their individual needs.” The medical team consists of a select group …

Casa Velha do Palheiro, Madeira

Review: Casa Velha do Palheiro, Madeira

THE HOTEL Set high on on the hills above the capital, Funchal, Casa Velha do Palheiro is a former summer residence of a local dignitary built in the early 1800’s. Set amongst the lush green trees and alongside the famous gardens of the same name, it’s a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of Madeira’s main city. The sound of birds and the trees is pretty much all that disturbs the silence. It’s an elegant hotel, country-house in style with antique and period furnishings and just a touch floral in its accent colours. It all works and makes for a peaceful retreat. Taking tea and breakfast on the terrace is a joy and the hotel’s award-winning restaurant is highly recommended, serving quality gourmet food with style and elegance. Gentle walks through the gardens or lazing by the pool, days are relaxed and restful on the Palheiro Estate. The food is impressive, the staff are helpful but not overbearing and it makes for a totally relaxing stay. THE SPA at CASA VELHA DO PALHEIRO Spa lovers …