You may recall that I said one of the things I was looking forward to in September was a twilight spa experience with my sister. I bought us both a pampering package from Travelzoo, as a birthday treat for her way back in July, and we’ve only just got round to booking it.
We went to the De Vere Village Urban Resorts in Bournemouth, where we got a package which included:
- Two of the following 25-minute treatments: ESPA Radiant Facial; ESPA Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage; ESPA Salt and Oil Scrub; Jessica Express Manicure; Jessica Express Pedicure; Hot-Stone Foot, Leg and Ankle Massage.
- A 2-course meal is also included. This includes the soup of the day, plus one of the following options: a baked potato with either cheese and coleslaw or egg mayonnaise, a hummus and feta wrap, an egg mayonnaise sandwich, a fish finger sandwich, penne arrabiata or ½ rack of BBQ ribs.
- Also includes access to the spa facilities from 12pm-8pm as well as full use of the gym, pool and classes during these times.
A Lounging Lunch
We booked our treatments for 5pm so that we could both work half days, then meet in Bournemouth for a nice leisurely lunch. We ended up in Conto Lounge which is part of the Lounge chain of restaurants. We have two in Southampton – Santo Lounge and Trago Lounge, and they are firm favourites.
I had a pulled pork panini which unfortunately was a major let down. I opened it up to pick out the jalapenos, and saw that there was hardly any pork in it at all! So I sent it back and asked for more meat. I normally just shut up and eat the food I’m given as I hate complaining, but this was a ridiculously small amount of pulled pork, in my pulled pork panini. When it came back out, there weren’t any big jalapenos in it anymore (as I had already picked these out), but I swear they had chopped up extra jalapenos super finely and spread them in with the meat, as it was the hottest panini I’ve ever had! So that wasn’t a great start to the day.
Anyway… so we got to the spa about 3ish, where we planned to use the pool and just chill out before our treatments. I have to report that the pool area was very nice. The pool itself was really very big, and had two lanes cordoned off for fast and slow swimmers, with a lot of space still remaining for those of us who would just be flapping about like idiots (me). They also had a jacuzzi and hot tub, as well as a sauna and steam room. At the end they had some wooden loungers and access to a little courtyard/patio garden, which would have been nice if it was hot and sunny. The changing rooms were also nice and big, with lockers, toilets and nice big showers.
Just before 5pm we headed up to the spa area for our treatments. We had both decided to go for the ESPA Radiant Facial and the ESPA Back, Neck and Shoulder Massage, and after my amazing ESPA experience at the Solent Hotel & Spa recently, I was super excited!
Yes… if I could summarise my back massage in one word, brutal would be it. I’m the kind of girl who goes to a massage for relaxation. I hate it when they find a knot in your back and start working on it like there’s no tomorrow. Normally they spend a minute or two on it, then move on. But not this time. Oh no. My beauty therapist spent pretty much the full 25 minutes trying to get one stubborn knot out of my upper back. It was hell!
Not once did she ask me if I wanted such an aggressive massage. I guess it’s partly my fault as I should have piped up, but I was just hoping she would stop and move on to the more relaxing part of the massage. But there was no relaxing part. Just pain.
So how was the ESPA facial?
The facial was better. Again she didn’t ask if I had any skin concerns or what kind of skin I had. Just straight into it. It was nice enough. She used Elemis products which felt lovely on my skin and smelt gorgeous. But I just found it hard to relax after having such a butchering during my back massage.
Plus, every other minute she was back round by my neck and shoulders, trying to work out even more knots that she’d missed last time.
I didn’t even think I had many/any knots in my back. I don’t get muscle pain in my back and I’m a pretty relaxed person. If I did have loads of knots, they certainly weren’t causing me any bother. We were co-existing quite happily and there was no need to try to get rid of them!
So the whole thing was rather traumatic.
Making things even worse, my therapist had extremely long nails. I could feel them scratching up and down my back, sometimes when she was massaging I could feel them pinching at my skin, and during my facial I could feel them dragging across my skin. It was a bit gross and distracting really.
Relaxing Dinner. Not
abuse massage and facial were over, we headed down for dinner. We thought that we’d be eating in a nice restaurant or maybe a chill-out area in the spa. Nope, we were told to head down to the hotel pub, where we could order our food. The hotel pub turned out to be something like Wetherspoons, but with Classic Clubmix 2013 pumping out at full blast. Not quite the relaxing dinner we were after. The barman had no idea about the food options we were allowed, so had to go away and check (even though we told him what they were). Then we got charged the best part of £6 for two cokes. I opted for the baked potato with cheese and coleslaw, which was a bit of a mistake as it was just so greasy.
It’s not all doom and gloom
I think I just got a bit of a bad run of things. My sister said that her massage and facial were both brilliant. She said she actually feel asleep for a bit during the facial, so she must have enjoyed it. She then opted for the hummus and feta wrap, which she said was tasty. I’m not a big feta fan, but I was a bit jealous when it all came out.
So that’s it really. Not all bad, as the pool area was nice, and Anna had a lovely couple of treatments. It’s just a shame that my therapist didn’t ask me what I wanted from my massage, instead of just driving straight into some kind of intensive massage for people that like pain! That and a pair of nail clippers wouldn’t go amiss.
Has you been let down by any massages or beauty treatments recently? What do you think? Am I just as at fault for not piping up? Or is it their place to find out what the customer does and doesn’t want first? Let me know your thoughts below.