To Spa Or Not To Spa?

I was recently invited on a spa weekend by two very dear friends of mine. For the cost of a weekly shop, we were promised a night away of pure indulgence, revitalise time, total relaxation and many other descriptions that made us sound like shower gel.

We arrived at a very modern looking building in the middle of nowhere, where all staff were required to be beautiful, skinny, have permanent botoxed induced smiles and a very fabricated orange skin colour. We were escorted to our rooms by a perky “Spa Technician” who gave us a pep talk on how to ‘embrace the experience of our stay’. Once in our room, we were encouraged to change into our swimwear and Spa white complimentary dressing gown and slippers and remain in those for the time of our stay ‘for total comfort’.  We were given our itineraries as we were all booked in for a massage each, unfortunately because 2 of us had delayed our departure on a very important mission (buying chocolate, wine and trash mags from the shop) it meant that 2 of the massages had been missed due to our lateness. So a little disgruntled, we shuffled (really that is the only way to walk in those slippers) to the relaxation pod to try and rebook our missed massages.

We entered the treatment reception, feeling like a cast member of a glamourous remake of the film 1984, to join in with all the other dressing gown clad inmates. After a quick argument between my assertive friend and a heavily hair extensioned “Beauty Technician” we were informed they were fully booked so 2 of us would have to wait until the next day to have our treatments. Luckily for me, my massage was still on and I had 10 minutes to wait for ‘Stevie’ to come and collect me. So I waited nervously in the chill out zone hoping Stevie wasn’t some enormous sweaty man about to pummel my limbs. We chatted and giggled in our threesome until we heard a few tutts and huffs coming from other inmates. One of my friends pointed at the wall above our heads where in large lettering the word SHHHHHHH!! was emblazoned. We stopped talking, sniggering like a bunch of schoolgirls as a  ”Barista Technician” squeaked past in a pair of noisy trousers disturbing the enforced silence.

Thankfully a very female Stevie collected me for my massage, she led me to a darkened room with panpipe music playing and instructed me to make myself comfortable. Once I had laid on my front and wedged my head through the hole of the massage table, so I was now looking at the floor, I really didn’t feel very comfortable! Stevie got to work on “encouraging my tension to leave”. She was very capable and about 50% of the massage was enjoyable, but the other 50% was a bit painful or just really really tickled, so involved me flinching, then apologising, Stevie telling me not to worry, then her doing it again. Once the 45 minutes was over, the last 15 minutes of which I spent trying to ignore the fact I needed a wee, I did feel really relaxed. I shuffled past a few dressing gown clad inmates oddly wrapped in blankets on sofa’s. Then I was once again back in the chillout zone where I found my 2 friends in massage chairs, heads shifting from side to side while they winced at the pressure massage in their backs. We all agreed it was time for some pre-dinner drinks in our room!

According to our itinerary we were to dine at 7pm, so we quickly chucked on our glad rags, slapped on the make-up and hairspray and replaced our shuffling slippers for heels. Convincing each other there must be a atmospheric restaurant and happening bar where we could spend our evening, we found ourselves in a dining room with dressing gown clad inmates eating their dinners. We suddenly felt like we were wearing clown costumes as we received a few bemused looks from the relaxed diners, one lady even had a towel wrapped round her head while she tucked into her risotto, there has to be a line to cross here? Thankfully, after we were seated, some other inmates arrived in normal clothes, although we were still in the minority. After 2 bottles of Chablis, we soon didn’t care and the food was delicious. We then headed to the bar, which we almost walked past mistaking it for a cloakroom, it was only the dressing gown clad drinkers propped at the bar that made us look that way.

So, after a few more wines, our extremely helpful (tip hunting) barman Henry explained that the bar was closing soon and after we stopped wailing to let him finish, he informed us that most people came here to drink vegetable juice and not get drunk. Well, we had included our wine consumption in our relaxation needs so we obviously had to find somewhere else to continue our evening. Henry then explained that we weren’t really supposed to leave the site but he knew of a wine bar in the local village that we could go to. We glanced at each other, we really shouldn’t, we’re responsible Mum’s, we couldn’t sneak out of a spa and go gallavanting to strange bar’s in an area we didn’t know. So as my friend hissed “wimps” at the last guests heading back to their rooms, we had got the address and harrassed the night porter for a cab number. Henry wished us luck and made us promise not to tell anyone he suggested this plan as he got in trouble for this once before. So ignoring the warning bells going off in my head, we staggered past the begrudging night porter who helped us escape into the night.

The wine bar was like a party in someone’s front room and as we stomped through the entrance, everyone stopped to look our way and I had the distinct feeling that tumbleweed had passed in front of us. The next half hour (that is all it was open for) were rather sketchy with the high point being the free shots as a welcome for the fact that Henry had brought more customers. Low point was the lack of toilet door and no light (seriously) so we had to make a human door for each other’s ablutions. After half an hour our daring adventure was over, so we rang our cab to ferry us back home. A few hours later, the alarm went off and our room resembled a rock star’s abode, clothes scattered everywhere, empty wine bottle on the floor and 3 half full vodka cocktails brought back from the ‘wine bar’. We dragged our severly hung over bodies into the shower and back into our dressing gown uniform and shuffled off to breakfast. And although we were greeted with a plethora of cooked wonders to choose from, all of us opted for a coffee and a bit of dry toast.

My friends crept off to their massages, both very aware of the wine/vodka toxins escaping from their bodies. I attempted to plunge into the swimming pool to cure my hangover, which only made my head pound more. We did feel guilty as our sheepish dark ringed eyes were met with the healthy complexions of the other imates, but we reasoned that you can relax anytime but can you break the rules every weekend? We know who had a better time out of all the guests. We’ll just have to make sure next time we do a spa weekend we rebook a different spa, preferably with a pub next door!

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