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Seek Your Bliss - The Guide to Spa Breaks and Escapes from Pearl Escapes 2015

Seek Your Bliss - The Guide to Spa Breaks and Escapes from Pearl Escapes 2015

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Seek Your Bliss - The Guide to Spa Breaks and Escapes from Pearl Escapes 2015

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364 pagine
5 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 18, 2014
ISBN:
9781326110925
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

This is not a glossy spa book with publicity photos and reviews provided by spa's PR teams but an honest first hand account of some of the world's most wonderful, as well as best value spas and escapes.

This is the book for you if you want to know which hot tubs are worth the price of a day visit, which hotel's breakfast buffet is worth forking out for and, most importantly, where to find treatments, escapes and facilities worth going the extra mile for – even if they're not in the most traditional venues.

With spa breaks and escapes in Florida, New York, Iceland, Bath, London, Hampshire, Sussex, Kent, Paris, Barcelona, Tuscany, Croatia, Morocco and China this is a guide that can help you find your perfect escape around the world.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 18, 2014
ISBN:
9781326110925
Formato:
Libro

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Correlato a Seek Your Bliss - The Guide to Spa Breaks and Escapes from Pearl Escapes 2015

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Seek Your Bliss - The Guide to Spa Breaks and Escapes from Pearl Escapes 2015 - Pearl Howie

Seek Your Bliss - The Guide to Spa Breaks and Escapes from Pearl Escapes 2015

Seek Your Bliss - The Guide to Spa Breaks and Escapes from Pearl Escapes 2015

By Pearl Howie

Copyright © Pearl Howie 2014

All rights reserved

ISBN 978-1-326-11092-5

The moral right of the author has been asserted

New In This Edition

Sadly, as well as new spas this edition also sees the loss of a London spa institution – the Sanctuary Spa.  Although it had become a little over priced for the quality of the day spa, it's just a shame that ladies will have to look elsewhere for somewhere you can swing naked over a swimming pool.

Buddhapadipa Temple, Wimbledon, England

Cannizaro Park, Wimbledon

Mayfield Lavender Farm, Surrey

Pink Dolphins, Hong Kong

Bamboo Raft Ride and Impressions

The Bund – Shanghai

Yellow Mountain, aka Huangshan, near Tunxi, China

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Livingstone Lodge, Port Lympne, Kent

Northern Lights, Iceland

Thai Spa Association

Dolphins – Caladesi Beach and Little Toot, Clearwater (and near Clearwater), Florida

Clearwater, Florida, USA - Full Moon Fall - update

Zumba Convention, Orlando, Florida

Hilton Orlando, Florida

Key Largo – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (pronounced Pennay as in the pasta, Kamp)

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center – Boca Raton, Florida

Chuan Spa, Langham, London, England

Fairlee Pharmacy Treatment Rooms, London, England

Lomi Lomi

Akasha, London, England

Watsu – Treatment Review

No. 1 Traveller Spa Gatwick Airport, England

Lifehouse Spa & Hotel, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, England

Massage Angels

Tried & True, Putney, London, UK

Triyoga, Chelsea, London

Mandarin Oriental, Miami, Florida – Hotel & Spa

Versailles, Little Havana, Miami, Florida

Gulf Stream Water Dance Massage

Bahia Honda, Marathon, Florida Keys

Turtle Hospital, Marathon, Florida Keys

Tranquility Bay Resort, Marathon, Florida Keys

Key Lime Inn, Key West, Florida

The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, Florida

The Seaside Amelia Inn, Amelia Island aka Fernandina Beach

Amelia Island, Florida

Holiday Inn Express – Crystal River

Snorkelling With Manatees – River Ventures, Crystal River

Introduction

The past few editions of this book have focused on spas and spa breaks, but this year it struck me that I really needed to include some of the escapes I've written about on my website as they can be as healing and relaxing as any spa break and, more than that, they can be the most life affirming and inspiring experiences.

After deciding this I visited Florida for the third time in November 2014 and had one of the most incredible experiences of my life; swimming with manatees.  Although I could have done this in August it was a bit of a drive and something held me back, then I met my boyfriend in Clearwater and it was the perfect weekend trip from his new home in Jacksonville.  As we said so often about the escapes we went on; right time, right place.  As we got into the water I felt a decided anticlimax this is boring, I'm not going to see anything then minutes later a manatee approached first him and then me.  It looked me directly in the eye, and I felt an incredible connection, then it swam underneath me.  I panicked a little (you're not supposed to swim above them) and I literally held my breath as it rubbed my tummy with its back.  My thoughts in that moment were a huge blast of gratitude to be alive, to experience something so intensely moving, to be so blessed.

This is what I so often feel on my spa breaks, but not always, and not solely, and it has always been my philosophy that Pearl Escapes is about sharing many different types of escape so that everyone, even when they are broke or disabled or emotionally broken or sick or needing to be stretched and inspired can find something that will help them in my books or on my website.

For more escapes do check out my website as not everything is included here and if you find any of the treatments confusing please read my companion book; Seek Your Bliss – The Guide to Spa Treatments and Massage from Pearl Escapes 2015

Buddhapadipa Temple, Wimbledon, England

If you’ve ever felt like temple hopping in Thailand but the airfare, time or vaccinations have held you back, you’ll be delighted to know that there’s an authentic Buddhist temple right in London (across the road from Wimbledon Common) that you can visit.

But it’s important to remember that this isn’t just a temple, or a monument like the Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park where you might be disturbed by personal trainers running their clients around it (! why would you do that?), no, if you plan on visiting this temple please remember that it is in fact part of a Buddhist monastery, with the orange robed monks to show for it.

The energy of the place is incredible, but for me it’s not the gold and ornate temple (which you will have to take your shoes off to enter) but the small garden, with stream and bridges behind it that I find is the best place to meditate.

Many people who meditate believe that the energy or vibrations of other people meditating nearby help in the search for peace, which may be why I have been able to find the answer to my more difficult problems, or let go of strong emotions when meditating here.  It is also why, from time to time, the temple is closed to the public, to allow the monks to retreat and not have those energies sapped by people like me, I guess!

The temple website has some wonderful resources, and you can also find information on when to visit, as well as courses, many of which are free, on meditation and Buddhism - so a really wonderful resource, even if you can only visit online.

Free to visit and many courses are also free (or have nominal fees) to attend. 

www.buddhapadipa.org

14 Calonne Road, Wimbledon, London SW19 5HJ

The opening time is from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm: weekdays for the temple grounds and weekend for the main temple.

Barcelona, Spain – Rituels d'Orient

It had been a rough couple of years and one of the few things that had really helped me through was my first visit to a traditional Moroccan hammam in Agadir.  It was my first experience of the traditional gommage technique where a Moroccan lady in T-shirt and shorts had washed me all over (and I do mean all over) in a little hot room with black soap, scrubbed me to within an inch of my life, smothered me in rasul mud and left me to bake, before washing it all off and sending me upstairs for the most relaxing and blissful massage of my life.

So, when I was planning a little sunshine break in March 2010 I was intrigued by the spa offering a similar treatment in Barcelona:

Rituels d’Orient is a beautiful, simple spa, with lots of Arabian touches.  I particularly liked all the water sources in the hammam or Turkish bath; rain showers, a tiny plunge pool and Moroccan water bowls, so I could cool down.  There was also a super hot steam room if the main room wasn’t enough!

As soon as I arrived with my sister they introduced us to the changing rooms and fluffy bathrobes and slippers.  The hammam was huge, and we had it to ourselves for a good half hour, which was nice, as we hadn't brought our swimsuits, but luckily it was a ladies only time of day.  We sweated in there for about 45 minutes (I was quite happy to be naked, but a group of Spanish girls came in in their swimmies.) 

I had to actually pop out for a minute to ask them for another bottle of mineral water, as I’d already got through one, and they were more than happy to oblige.

Just as it was getting too hot for me our therapists came in, and took us to an anteroom and asked us to lie down on stone beds.  First they washed us with gorgeous, strong eucalyptus soap and then scrubbed us down (our gommage) using traditional scrubbing mitts (unfortunately not as effective as the Moroccan gloves).  They didn’t speak English but it’s pretty clear when someone wants you to turn over, which is all we had to do.

There’s a little cloakroom outside the hammam where we slipped back into dressing gowns for our massages.

Again, our masseurs didn’t speak a word of English, but it really didn’t matter; all I had to do was pop on some paper knickers, slip under a towel, choose my massage oil and turn over halfway through.  I don’t know if it was the quality of the massage, the treatment beforehand, or the fact that I was on holiday, but it was one of the most relaxing massages I’ve ever had.

Unlike massages I’ve had in the UK I completely lost track of time, I could have been in there an hour or 3 hours, and I didn’t feel rushed or that I wanted another half hour, it was just right.

What I especially loved, even though it was so simple, was the way the masseuse massaged my hands.  I thought it was just so relaxing because I spent so much of my time working on a keyboard, but my sister said the same thing.  I almost asked the masseur to carry on with my hands, but I’m glad I didn’t because the rest of the massage was fantastic as well!

Chilling out in the Arabian lounge afterwards there was no rush for us to leave - even though they were probably closed by then, so we just lay back on the pillows and enjoyed our mint tea.

The walk from Rituels d’Orient to our hotel was about 10-20 minutes and it’s all downhill.  When we got back we popped into the shop across the road to pick up snacks, ordered some pasta and herbal tea from room service, put on some chilled out music and were sleeping like babies by 9pm!

But just before I fell asleep I had a moment of inspiration; to share experiences like this, one way or another, to help people find their own healing escapes.

€59 each for 2 and a half hours of spa treatments, entry into hammam, gommage and massage: Mid week March 2010

Spa-Hammam Rituels d´Orient www.rituelsdorient.com

C/Loreto, 50, 08029 Barcelona, Spain Tel 93 419 14 72

Barcelona - The Hotel - Vincci d’Arena

Arriving soaking wet in the middle of the first snowstorm the city has seen in 50 years is probably a good test of a hotel.

The hotel staff made us feel very welcome, even though we were dripping on the floor (and had to drape all our soaked luggage round our room).  Then they sent up fluffy white dressing gowns so we could visit the sauna and steam room, which was absolutely necessary to warm us up!

As we headed out for dinner we asked the concierge if he knew a particular restaurant.  I was a bit perturbed when he didn't answer, then we realised he was looking it up on the internet to check the reviews, and he even called them to check they were still open (considering the snow!)

The highlight for me though was the artisanal cakes for breakfast.  Normally I wouldn’t order room service breakfast when there are so many cafés around, but my sister suggested it and it was a winner!  Huge jugs of great coffee, with sumptuous creamy cheesecake, apple cake and some honey cake that we just couldn’t finish.  We did try the eggs and bacon the next morning but it didn’t really cut it for me, so we went back to the cakes for the last day!  (Just writing about it makes me crave some great cheesecake... mmm...)

It was also really quiet, apparently they’ve done something cool with the walls, the mini-bar prices were reasonable, the staff friendly and the cost of the hotel was pretty much unbeatable, possibly because it’s in the business district.  Transport is excellent it's maybe 5 minutes on the metro to the centre.  Not only that, it was about 10 minutes walk to the main train station (Sants Estacio) and 20 minutes to our fabulous spa.

Very, very hard to beat!

The only thing I would say is that, like a lot of hotels these days, the room has its own climate control.  Unfortunately for us we didn’t figure this out before we went to bed, so we spent a lot of the first night jumping up and down trying to switch it on because it was minus 2 degrees outside.  We ended up sleeping with our fluffy bathrobes over us!!  Of course we made sure to get it right the next night, but please, check your climate control before you tuck yourself in!

Also, although the hotel raves about its toiletries, these don’t include conditioner, so I had pretty dry, unmanageable hair all weekend.  I would bring my own next time.

£51 per room per night, 3 nights in the hotel: Mid week break March 2010

£286 each for the spa break including flight, 3 nights in the hotel and 2 and a half hours of spa treatments: Mid week break March 2010

Cannizaro Park, Wimbledon

A sunken Italian garden, a hidden Roman folly, a trickling water garden, a heavenly rose garden, a cottage herb garden, a rolling lawn in sight of a classic country house, and, of course, a duck pond, are some of the many features of Cannizaro Park.

And, even though Cannizaro House is a very posh hotel, bar and restaurant, the gardens are public, which means they are free to enjoy year round.

There are even some public loos (dismal but generally useable) tucked well away, although you can always choose to stump up for a pot of tea on the terrace and use the hotel’s sumptuous facilities or pop down to Wimbledon Village to one of the delis, coffee shops (or even Tesco Express) or bring your own picnic. 

Zadar, Croatia - Acquapura Thalasso and Spa Centre

The Acquapura Thalasso and Spa Centre is part of the Falkensteiner Borik resort at Punta Skala - just a short taxi ride from Zadar town centre, and next door to Hotel Adriana.  I was told it is only for guests of Hotel Adriana and Club Funimation, but you could always try and book a treatment; they’re so helpful that they might make an exception!

The spa is mixed, with most people opting to keep their swimwear on, except for in the sauna and steam room which is an unclothed area, and so you do have to get naked in front of the opposite sex.  Which, in this environment, feels perfectly natural.

Even without treatments (we were too late to book) there is a lot to explore in this huge spa.  We waded through the cold water canal and relaxed in the outside Jacuzzi, before enjoying the steam room.  Then I moved on to the shower area, with about six different kinds of showers and plenty of ice crystals. I think some showers even had sea water (thalassotherapy).  My favourite was one with six showerheads for a fantastic back massage.

There are also some Kneipp dipping pools, two vast relaxation areas, waterbeds and a wonderful, gently heated indoor/outdoor pool that, although popular with very small children in the day, is empty at 7pm.

The spa is dotted with smaller muslin screened lounges, where you can relax and enjoy your herbal tea, and it'd be quite easy to stay here all day, which you're most welcome to do.

Entry into the spa is free for guests of the hotels.  Treatments are extra - you can download a price list here:

http://www.falkensteiner.com/static/cms/hotels/borik/files/Spa-PLBorik32sen-hr.pdf

Zadar - Falkensteiner Hotel Adriana

It’s never good to arrive at a hotel and be told that you have no booking.  However as I had booked the hotel online that morning, and it was a Sunday, it was understandable.  Our receptionist was very helpful and organised us a room in no time, and one with the most amazing view; pine trees, the pool and the sea beyond it. 

Our Junior Suite was lovely, including a bathroom with a separate shower and bath, and a window through to the bedroom and the incredible view.  There’s a walk in cupboard, fluffy dressing gowns (you will pay €1.90 for both of these to be laundered at the end), a mini bar, a bag with beach towels and flip flops for us both (you're supposed to leave the bag and flip flops at the end of your stay but our receptionist told us to take them if we felt attached), a lounge, a small bedroom with chocolates on the pillow and a balcony that runs the whole length of the suite, with floor to ceiling sliding windows... outside living at its best.

The hotel’s pool and loungers are just sumptuous, although once in the pool you can’t see some of the walls of the pool, meaning you can literally swim into them.  There are also Jacuzzis and showers in the pool, but they’re only switched on during the day.

Hotel Adriana is next door to the Club Funimation Borik, a family hotel, with a busy pool and flume ride, don't worry you can’t hear any noise. 

One of the best things about the location is the incredible sunset.  We walked outside the hotel to sit on the end of the quay and watch the sunset and I’m so glad we did.  Then we walked back in for dinner... excellent service... excellent food... 

The only annoying thing at night was that I could hear next door’s TV as I was trying to sleep, but that’s what earplugs are for!

And the breakfast... the best breakfast I’ve ever had without a doubt.  As I walked along the enormous buffet table I kept waiting for the array of treats to end, but it just kept going... and going... 9 types of juice, 10 types of cheese (at least), cooked breakfast, pancakes, 6 types of honey, 10 types of jam, 5 types of bread, apple strudel, fig cake, nuts, berries, fresh fruit... 

I would absolutely recommend this hotel, but I would recommend that you read the guest information properly.  We made the faux pas of going topless by the pool, as we saw others doing it, before realising swimwear is always worn in the pool area.

Also their toiletries are wall mounted and not luxurious (but not bad) so I would recommend you bring your own.

And finally, if you book this hotel I recommend you check which view you have, we had the double bonus of sea and garden, but some have garden views, some have sea and some have no view at all, check you're not in one of these.

We arrived and left by taxi as we had our luggage with us and didn’t venture out to Zadar again once we were there, but we did meet some of the hotel staff at the local bus stop on the main road, which is just 5 minutes (and 9 krona - about £1 each) to the other side of the Zadar footbridge, which brings you right into the town.  The danger of course, is that once here, you won’t venture out at all, but that would be a shame as Zadar itself is just lovely.

£163 for one night at the hotel for two people including 1 night in a Junior Suite, incredible dinner (excluding wine), the biggest breakfast buffet I've ever seen, and spa entry.

£140 (no, that's not a typo!) each for the spa break including flight, 1 night in a Junior Suite, including half board, and entry into the spa (although I would recommend spending more than one night!): Weekend break June 2010

Mayfield Lavender Farm, Surrey

If you've ever seen the photos of the lavender fields in Provence, you'll be very pleased to know that it's an escape you can enjoy in England, and for free.

Mayfield Lavender is situated in Banstead, once the heart of the international lavender industry and is open from 25 April every Friday 11am – 3pm, and then seven days a week from 30 May to 27 July from 10am to 7pm (although the lavender can flower early or late so you may find seasons slightly altered.)

It has fantastic views and is a great place for a walk, a little rest stop and a browse of all things lavender.

Overall, smaller than you would expect from their excellent website http://www.mayfieldlavender.com/contact-us/directions/ the shop is more of a stand (and the nearest toilets are in the neighbouring park), but it is still a wonderful place to be.

There's a small picnic area underneath a tree, so you could even bring your own lunch.

I took my niece there in July 2010 and we enjoyed some lovely lavender shortbread and a nice cup of tea.  Apparently lavender essential oil is very good for treating insect bites, so one of the very helpful ladies there dotted some on my niece's bug bites - I am still waiting for the verdict!

http://www.mayfieldlavender.com/

Mayfield Lavender Farm, Banstead, Surrey, UK

Spa London, Bethnal Green, England

Lie back on the spacious cream and turquoise surfaces of the main hammam and you’ll understand why so many people are in here.  The gentle warming from beneath is so inviting that I very nearly fell asleep (and this was not the only room where it would be easy to doze off).

There are the three marble Turkish Baths, each of a slightly increasing heat, which are lovely places to lie back and succumb to the relaxing music playing gently in the background.

Two dimly lit intense aromatic steam rooms beckon, (although I didn’t notice any particular fragrances) where you can soak up the heat, until the ice plunge pool, ice crystals and even the refreshing bucket of cold water on a rope or Kouble Douche (which you pull over your head!) seem like a very good idea.

Step into the monsoon shower if you can’t make up your mind, and press either hot or cold to suit your mood... and you can always dry off, if you like, in the searing heat of the sauna.

When you need to relax from all the relaxing, step into the lounge area, where you can lie back on a cushioned lounger in your towelling robe and sip a glass of lemon or apple scented water, and get ready to take the plunge again.

With towels, plastic flip-flops, towelling robe, water and occasional light refreshments on hand, all you need is your swimwear (compulsory for all).

On a women only day (when I went) the atmosphere is giggly and very friendly.  Every little group of women wanted to adopt me and make sure I was okay.  People here are so down to earth, perhaps because it’s in the East End?  If you really want quiet you can either move to a different room (there’s a lot of choice) or go to a mixed session; apparently the guys are a lot quieter.

With uniformed attendants on hand and very well kept decor, this really is a luxurious spa break for a bargain price.

Although you can’t use products in the spa, which is a shame, you can use them in the changing room showers afterwards, so I went for The Sanctuary Warming Charcoal Body Mask, followed by my own extra virgin olive oil all over to get the full spa experience.

Unfortunately once you leave the spa the surrounding area isn’t so great, so it was straight back on the tube afterwards, and I did just about manage to stay awake all the way home.

Booking is recommended.  The reception is very helpful and, although they normally charge if you cancel less than 24 hours in advance, they reorganised my visit for free because the Northern Line was down one weekend.

Don’t worry if you mix up your dressing gown and towel, everyone does it.  Although, as it was their 3rd birthday party when I visited, and there were special birthday refreshments, I soon solved the problem; my dressing gown was the one with chocolate cake on the sleeve!

As at Summer 2010: see end of review for pricing

August 2012 Update

Visiting the spa on a weekday morning is a little quieter.  Once again my friend and I left it too late to book massages, but one treatment we could indulge in was dry flotation as this doesn't require an attendant, apart from tucking you in.  The dry flotation room is opposite the steam rooms with a hospital style curtain to protect your privacy.  You lie on a flat bed and are tucked in with a heated blanket, plugged into headphones with relaxing music and left to float.  The best bit is when the water surges in, lifting you up and giving that great weightless feeling.  My friend who had lower back problems had half an hour and didn't feel it was enough.  I had booked an hour and, although it felt good, I wasn't enjoying it as much as I had enjoyed lying in the hammam, so after 50 minutes I squeezed the release button, unlocked my treatment room and headed back out into the spa.  On this occasion the ice pool wasn't very cold (which some people complained about) but it was just about the perfect temperature for me to enjoy a quick float in.

March 2013 Update

I organised a spa day for a group of ladies here on a Tuesday (one of the ladies only days) and finally got to try out their massage treatments (which are nearly always booked up in advance). 

The good news is that all of the massages were exceptional and I couldn't believe how much more relaxed I was after just a 15 minute back massage - truly world class!  The wrap treatments had a slightly less positive response from the ladies but it was wonderful to see everyone leaving with a new air of relaxation - and these ladies deserve every second of pampering as they all do so much for everyone else!

The bad news is that the spa has stopped serving food and you're lucky to even be able to order a coffee or tea (herbal tea is always on hand for free).  When fruit is put out it is snapped up immediately and we were relieved we had smuggled in snack bars.  (Sitting eating them in our dressing gowns we felt like naughty ladies at an old school health farm.)  Some other guests were blatantly eating crisps in the hammam, which is not really the vibe we were looking for.

The other negative is that although the reception team are efficient at dealing with email requests and were fab with our bookings, it proved impossible to contact them by phone, which would be a major problem for most of my ladies as many of them do not use email.  On the upside some of the ladies have already been back to the spa, opting to use the heat treatment rooms, but they would have loved to have been able to book treatments in advance too.

Also there were some discrepancies between the online menu and the printed massage menu and they also had additional treatments that I found out about via email - which makes it hard for anyone not online to make the most of this spa.

2010 Professional Beauty Awards Day Spa of the Year

3 hour entry £24 (this is plenty of time and you may be allowed to stay for longer if it’s not busy) includes robe, towel and flip-flops, or £23.50 for an annual card £3.50 and cardholder's entry £20.  As at March 2013.

Dry flotation is £20 for half an hour and £35 for an hour.

Discounts are available with membership only, which is £3.50 standard, £1.80 concessionary and rates go swiftly down to as little as £8.00 - but only until 4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 2.30pm Friday / Saturday

For more details visit http://www.spa-london.org/subpage.asp?id=208&mainid=63

Thermae Bath Spa, England

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