All posts tagged: travel

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 …

Les Prés d'Eugénie

Review: Les Prés d’Eugènie, France

Les Prés d’Eugénie is a classy country house hotel in the south west corner of France that mixes old world charm, a warm and friendly welcome with world class cuisine and a thermal spa that is authentic and most memorable. Part of the Relais & Chateau group, the hotel is unequivocally French, decorated with furniture and art from the owner’s personal collection that dates from the 18th to 20th centuries. The rooms are warm and cosy and breakfast is served in the privacy of your own room each morning. The large drawing rooms in the oldest part of the building are perfect for a pre-dinner aperitif. Large sofas and intimate spaces are punctuated by period pieces and rich colours. And the main event is the three Michelin star restaurant. Holding this accolade for over 40 years, the food is outstanding, innovative and one of life’s great experiences. Aside from this haute cuisine, spa guests can enjoy a programme that includes the Eugenie Slimming Cuisine, prepared by world renowned Michel Guerard. He developed the programme in …

Therme Bath Spa in Bath , people relaxing and enjoying the experience, steam rising off the water with Bath Abbey in the distance

The best places to spa outside on a bank holiday weekend

It’s a bank holiday and the weather looks set to be sunny and rather glorious. The Spa Man has picked the best places to spa outside. What better way to enjoy an extended bank holiday weekend than to enjoy relaxing spa treatments and the great outdoors. The UK has some brilliant spas and what’s more – lots of them have an outdoor pool or patio. Book it now. The Scarlet The Scarlet in Cornwall is renowned for its fabulous green credentials. Modern design touches and sustainability are evident throughout the hotel and spa. But what captured my attention is the clifftop outdoor swimming pool filtered by reeds and the clifftop hot tubs that look out across the ocean. I have not been to The Scarlet as yet, but friends who have give it glowing reviews. www.scarlethotel.co.uk Rudding Park Rudding Park has one of the most impressive landscaped spa gardens in the UK. Complete with outdoor hot tub and sauna cabin, the infinity pool looks out across the woods – and there’s places to sit and …

Shinta Mani Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia - The Spa Man

Review: Shinta Mani Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Shinta Mani Angkor in the bustling tourist town of Siem Reap in Cambodia is the perfect spot for temple touring when visiting Angkor Wat. The heritage site at Angkor Wat covers an area roughly the size of Birmingham and the temples are jaw-dropping. Shinta Mani Angkor is just 15 minutes away from the temples.  The hotel is a modern, slightly quirky boutique offering with a great little spa on the side. It’s situated in a smart part of town, on one of the best kept streets in the French Quarter and is an Instagrammers dream. Bill Bensley Design at Shinta Mani Angkor Designed by acclaimed architect Bill Bensley, there are 39 contemporary rooms in the hotel which draw on elements of Khmer inspired design. The eye catching monochrome colour scheme is punctuated with splashes of colour, which makes for a refreshing change from hotels that follow the teak-heavy style of many South East Asian hotels. We were greeted with a glass of fizz on arrival which was a nice touch. Check-in was seamless and we were …

Brighton Harbour Hotel - The Spa Man

Review: Brighton Harbour Hotel, Brighton, UK

The Brighton Harbour Hotel brings some much-needed coastal chic to the hotel scene in Brighton. The rooms are light, bright and breezy with white walls and modern fabrics giving a splash of colour to each room, with a nod to the coastal vibe of this buzzing seaside resort. Artwork adorns the walls and many rooms are sea facing with freestanding baths. It’s all very impressive, but be warned, Brighton is a busy town and Friday and Saturday night on the seafront can get a bit raucous. Bring earplugs and you will sleep soundly. Free gin and sherry in the rooms is a nice touch – what’s not to like? Oh and rooms also have tea and coffee making facilities which includes a Nespresso machine. Didn’t try dinner during the stay, but breakfast was an easy going affair with healthy buffet and on-trend breakfast choices including lots of avocado (tick). Vibrant fabrics and modern furniture with sea views. It’s brilliant fun. The Sunday Times Travel section listed it as the No.1 Seaside hotel and I have …

Four Seasons Seychelles - The Spa Man

Four Seasons Seychelles

Four Seasons Seychelles is a picture of paradise personified. Occupying one of the most beautiful beaches in the Seychelles, the villas (most with private pools) are discreetly built into the surrounding hillside and seamlessly blend into the trees offering an air of exclusivity and privacy for guests. From one room villas to four bedroom residences, the villas are designed with dark wood and modern fixtures and make the most of the views. A highlight is the outdoor shower, terrace and decking area. The beach is where the main action happens with sun loungers set amongst the palms along the shore. There’s guided snorkelling with Wise Oceans marine conservation which has a partnership with the resort and is working to restore the reef. Sipping cocktails on the beach, a spot of lunch by the pool or lazy walks along the shore, it’s a heavenly location and most definitely Instagram ready. There’s a large gym on site, just below the lobby and breakfast is served at Zen which also doubles as a great evening restaurant. There’s a …

Hotel Metropole Hanoi

Review: Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi, Vietnam

The Sofitel Legend Metropole, Hanoi is situated in the Old French Quarter of the city, and you are right amongst the hustle and bustle of what is a frenetic city. The hotel harks back to the colonial era in ethos and design. Behind its classical white façade with green shutters and original wrought iron details, it gives way to a plush interior with neo-classical references and lots of stately wood paneling. Most rooms look to the streets or to the internal courtyard with garden and pool. When booking check whether you are reserving a room in the historic Metropole wing or the newer Opera wing. rooms in the Opera wing are larger and a touch more modern in style. Guests over the year have included the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham and it still attract prominent politicians and celebrities when the are in town. It is the number one address. It’s all very elegant with butlers and doormen on hand at every turn. Dining experiences are many and varied. Breakfast is a …

LUX* Grande Gaube - The Spa Man

The best new spa openings in 2018

The spa industry is set for a big year in 2018 with great places to escape to for health, wellness and relaxation. In the UK there continues to be huge investment in country house hotels and we will see the unique partnership between Champneys and Marella Cruises from May 2018. Angsana (renowned throughout Asia) makes it European debut in Corfu in Greece. It really is a big year. You are already spoiled for choice, now there’s even more on offer as properties look to raise the bar for spa in the UK and abroad. The first opening is LUX* Grande Gaube which just sneaks onto this list (opening late December 2017). So, it’s hot off the press and benefiting from a total overhaul. Here’s where to spa in 2018! The best new spa openings in 2018 including: UK, Europe, Asia and the Indian Ocean. The best new spa openings in 2018: UNITED KINGDOM   Kohler Waters Spa at The Old Course Hotel, Scotland Kohler Waters Spa at the Old Course Hotel has relaunched its spa and fitness offering …

Galgorm Resort and Spa - the Spa Man

Good Spa Guide Awards 2017

The Good Spa Guide – the UK’s leading authority on the spa industry – has unveiled the winners in its annual Good Spa Guide Awards 2017. The Spa at Gleneagles by ESPA, Scotland was named best UK spa, while further awards were given for customer service and design, through to best country retreat and top newcomer. A total of 12 awards were also given for the best spas in each UK region. Winners of the 2017 Good Spa Guide Awards – in association with Spabreaks.com – were announced at a glittering gala dinner sponsored by Temple Spa on 14th November 2017 at Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel. Over 101,000 consumers voted in the Readers’ Choice National Awards, while the Best UK Spa and the Regional Awards were based on audit scores from annual reviews conducted by The Good Spa Guide’s own ‘Spa Spies’. THE RESULTS IN FULL Good Spa Guide Awards 2017: Regional Awards Best UK Spa (sponsored by Temple Spa): The Spa at Gleneagles by ESPA, Scotland Best Spa in London: The Bulgari Spa Best Spa …

Iceland Beer Spa - The Spa Man

New beer spa opens at Bjórböðin in Iceland

Iceland has launched a new beer spa at Bjórböðin, located on the north coast of the island. The new beer spa (which is a Beerspa & Restaurant) offers spa treatments in Kambala wood hot tubs filled with beer, water, hops and yeast.  I’m told that each of the tubs comes with its own beer tap with ales provided by the associated Bruggsmiðjan microbrewery. As it’s International Beer Day today (4th August) I thought it was the perfect time to post this story. Beer spas seem to be growing in number. There are a number in Prague and the Czech Republic and a few spas in the UK tried to jump on the trend by launching beer-lite spa treatments. These were ‘inspired’ by brewing and hops. you didn’t actually soak int eh beer though – but could enjoy a pint before or afterwards. The new beer spa on the block is called Bjórböðin, and is located on the northern tip of Iceland in the village of Árskógssandur. Guests can take a relaxing soak in giant tubs of beer, which is …

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 …

Nordic sauna Center Parcs Sherwood Forest

The best saunas with a view in the UK

Saunas have been popular for years and saunas with a view really are something special. Much more preferable than a closed, dark box room, now the trend in sauna design is to open them up, add windows and provide stunning views across the rest of the spa area and to the landscape beyond. Saunas with a view of natures, the forest, rivers or the seaside make the whole experience much more enjoyable. The Finnish discovered that pouring water over heated rocks in a small enclosed room created a very hot, dry heat – the sauna. An essential component of any good spa, saunas come with a variety of benefits for the guest.   Saunas can cleanse the skin, increase circulation, open up the airways and sinuses, ease muscle and rheumatic pain, strengthen the immune system, improve joint movement and act as a great stress release for tension. Sweating opens up the pores, lets out toxins and impurities and increases circulation. A sauna can also speed recovery time for injuries such as strains, sprains, arthritis and muscular pain. Here is The Spa …

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 …