Some of the best spa experiences I have ever had have been in the exotic surrounds of South East Asia, so when I was offered the chance to pay a visit to SenSpa in the New Forest* (part of the luxurious Carey’s Manor Hotel) I jumped at the chance. It promised an exotic Thai-style retreat, inspired by age-old traditions, combining eastern and western treatments and philosophies – a perfect escape from the stresses of daily life in the capital.
I knew the spa had won several awards (Best Spa in the South at the Good Spa Guide Awards, to name but one) so my expectations were high. I wasn’t disappointed. On arrival, I was immediately whisked off for the treatment of my choice (Relaxation Massage) to a dimly-lit and spacious treatment room. The flickering candles and relaxing tinkly music playing softly in the background made me feel immediately at ease and I felt a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. My Thai masseuse was excellent and I felt fully refreshed after my hour of pampering.
My favourite part of the spa was their hydrotherapy facilities, which you needed a special pass for. I hopped from one room to the next, from the bubbling hydrotherapy pool with powerful jets (perfect for loosening tight shoulder muscles) to the Herbal Sauna, Crystal Steam Room and Laconium.
So far, so spa you could say. However, one room was particularly fun and unique – the Experience Showers and Ice Room, where you could choose between a Caribbean Storm, Sea Storm or Ice Storm. The water effects (either misty and cold, or gloriously warm depending on the theme) even came with sound effects and a light show (think lightening and whistling winds, or swaying palms and monsoon-like rain). Plus there’s a bucket of ice-cold water and ice chippings for those that are brave enough to dunk it over their heads.
The spa also houses the Zen Garden restaurant (again with an eastern theme), where I dined at breakfast. For a real vitamin kick I tried their Vitality Smoothie – a nutritious blend of banana, pumpkin seeds,wheat germ, yogurt and peanut butter – accompanied by smoked salmon and scrambled egg. It was a satisfying, healthy breakfast in a lovely airy setting.
After my spa experience I was really looking forward to exploring the New Forest, an area I had never visited before. As soon as I left the building, nestled in the quaint village of Brockenhurst, I was almost surrounded by adorable New Forest ponies (they were even walking down the main road!).
We set off on foot to really experience the expanse of emerald-green and ancient forest, first created by King William the Conqueror in 1079 for the pursuit of the ‘beasts of the chase’ – red, roe and fallow deer and wild pig.
There were plenty of routes to take in whatever direction you fancied, and we picked a circular route which took you past a tree trail, where you could marvel at the sheer enormity of the areas Redwood trees; one of which was the tallest in the UK. Every so often you’d see a flash of brown and a small pack of ponies would trot past you, camouflaged by the verdant wilderness.
All in all, my visit to SenSpa in the New Forest was blissful and I highly recommend a visit for those that want a spa experience to remember in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK.