WHEN I first heard a spa had opened at Malvern I pictured a glorious old manor house set in the Worcestershire country.
So I was unprepared for the box-like structure that we found on the edge of a retail and business park.
It has to be said that MalvernSpa from the outside is unprepossessing. But it also should be said that once inside the doors, as long as you don’t look out of any windows, you can cut yourself off from the world.
The complex houses a hydrotherapy pool with thermal spa experience, suite of treatment rooms with a range of face and body treats, lounge, relaxation rooms, bar area and first class restaurant.
Checking in on Saturday afternoon we were quickly into our swimming costumes and down to the water spa where the heated pool takes centre stage. Using Malvern Spring waters, it extends out to a walled exterior garden where the steam rises into the air.
The pool is compact so there is not a lot of room for any vigorous keep fit swimming but it is filled with a variety of different water jet experiences. These offer both relaxation such as lying on the jet beds or invigoration – try swimming against a jet of bubbles for exercise.
Alongside the pool is the Thermal Spa Experience, a suite comprising hot and cold rooms including a crystal steam room, arctic and herb saunas, ice buckets, foot spas and tropical rain/cold fog showers.
Trying every experience in this pool area takes well over an hour and certainly stimulates the body from top to toe.
The only downside is that on the two occasions we visited the hydrotherapy area on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning the area was very busy. In fact all the lounge chairs were taken – either with other people or with towels saving the space.
So once we had come out of the pool there was little option but to have a shower and head back into the dry areas. A shame as lazing by the pool with a good book is surely one of the pleasures of a spa weekend.
My husband John and I had also been booked into the therapy suite and we had both opted for the ESPA Holistic Back, Face and Scalp treatment.
And so for 75 minutes I was in my own little heaven. Given the choice of calming or revitalising oils I went for the former and was soon leaving all the cares of the world behind.
A back exfoliation was followed by massage of the back, neck and shoulders with plenty of pressure. Then it was on to the facial with cleansing, exfoliating, acupressure massage and moisturiser with the addition of a head massage while my face soaked in all the benefits of a mask.
The time disappeared in what felt like minutes and by the end I was totally relaxed and sweet-smelling. In the relaxation room, complete with images of waterfalls, I found an equally chilled out husband.
In the restaurant chef Steve Rimmer has put together an imaginative and colourful menu packed with local produce. And what is more, it is not all healthy thank goodness.
For dinner I went for deliciously soft sauteed scallops served with toasted quinoa and smoked orange butter sauce. This was followed by wonderfully moist slices of guinea fowl with a chorizo mousseline served with tarragon potato, vegetable bake, spinach and tarragon and red wine jus.
John and I split the desserts, going for doughnuts with chocolate cream and a cheese board with five cheeses from a choice of ten.
And that was after polishing off an equally tasty lunch just a few hours earlier!
All in, we had a relaxing and enjoyable 24 hours at MalvernSpa. It may not be the height of luxury but certainly offers a welcome break.