THE VIBE: Is 100% Thai. The spa might be found in Hampshire but everything about it is rooted in the calming well-being philosophy of Thailand. You’ll subconsciously long for the scent of lemongrass once you leave.
BEST BRIDE-TO-BE TREATMENT: It has to be the traditional Thai massage, which doesn’t see you stripping off and having oil worked into your skin, but rather it’s like a super relaxing and revitalising physio session. Wear Thai pyjamas (it can be a struggle to get them tied) and have an expert slowly pull and push your limbs, and knead your muscles to give your body the ultimate in deep massage. Fantastic.
HIS ‘N’ HERS TREATMENTS: Out of the 19 treatment rooms SenSpa boasts, two of these are double rooms so it’s perfectly doable to enjoy a treatment alongside your fiancé or new husband. You could both opt for the same treatment on perfect unison (perhaps the Complete Harmony Face and Body Treatment if you both want to be pampered from head to toe) or he could go for a Bao Jai men’s facial while you indulge in one of the more female-friendly facials.
BEST AMENITY: I’ve got two words for you – hydrotherapy area. Over and above the Thai-inspired treatment rooms, temple studio (offering regular yoga classes) and pool/Jacuzzi area, SenSpa’s crowning glory are their hydrotherapy facilities which add another dimension to your spa visit. There’s a giant hydrotherapy pool which has water jets placed at different heights and angles to work on any combination of your tired muscles, cooling ice showers to invigorate (and entertain!) and my new favourite thing – the tepidarium, which is a dimly-lit room with heated tiled loungers that are just perfect to lull you into sleep.
MUST DOS WHILE YOU’RE THERE: Even if you’re booked in to stay at Careys Manor, the lovely countrified hotel attached to SenSpa, I’d recommend requesting a meal at the Zen Garden restaurant within the spa. Although I haven’t visited Thailand myself, so can’t fully testify to it’s authority, it felt pretty damn Thai to me. From the music and the aromatic oils to the fresh smoothies and tinkling waterfalls, it’s just the ticket to fill your tum without losing the Zen feeling.
WHO GOES: I was surprised to see no female-only groups, although I’m sure that was a one-off as the spa would be perfect for mother-daughter duos or hen parties, but it was great to see so many couples enjoying some spa time. I can’t speak for all men, but I know my other half found the experience far more enjoyable than other spas I’ve dragged him along to and that was largely due to the variety of experiences on offer in the hydrotherapy area. Honestly – jets shooting water at high speed, heated marble loungers and ice showers with thunderstorm-inspired lights and sounds are much more interesting than a standard swimming pool.
THE BEDROOM: We enjoyed a stay at Careys Manor, rather than a spa day, and arrived to find a wedding in full swing! After being shown to our room – champagne on ice and a box of chocolates which lasted all of two minutes – it was the clear the hotel was a luxury affair. The bed was massive and super comfortable, the bathroom spacious and a sweet view over the hotel gardens. We were lucky in that our bedroom was just next to the walkway through to the spa, so we never saw any hotel guests on our way to and from the spa area in our robes!
DETAILS: SenSpa offer a great range of spa break packages and have their own range of spa quality products, so you can take the Thai experience home with you. I snapped up an oil burner and some of the SenSpa Signature Scent essential oil, but their body therapy range is coming to Waitrose in October, too!
WHAT’S INCLUDED: Spa treatments, food and drinks and access to the hydrotherapy are extra but several packages are available.
LOCATION: Slap bang in the middle of the New Forest, Careys Manor Hotel is just a little walk from Brockenhurst train station. The small station is served by South West Trains and it’s an easy 1.5 hours journey from London Waterloo.