“ Doubletree Hotel & Spa in Chester, England. „
==THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE SPA ONLY==
I took my mum to this spa last year for her 60th birthday. She had never been to a spa in her life, and had shown some interest in the fish pedicure as she suffers with dry skin on her feet. I booked us both in for the day, along with treatments, for some relaxing mother-daughter time.
==Why I chose this one==
I chose this spa because it was quite close to my mum and dad's house, so I thought by omitting the travel time we would get a good day in the spa, uninterrupted. It also offered the fish pedicure which my mum had been reading about, which a lot of places in the area don't seem to offer unless they're specialised.
I was very aware when I booked this special day, that it could go one of two ways: either my mum would be terrified at the thought of having to get into a swimming costume for the day, and would bear a lifetime grudge for me making her do it, or she would have a great experience which would make her see what she's missed out on all these years. Luckily, she had one of the best days of her life (her words) and I was very proud that she let all her inhibitions and insecurities go, so we could enjoy the day and make the most of it. However, I did seek a lot of reassurance from the staff at the spa that she would be made to feel comfortable, and they did a lot to put my mind at ease that they would look after her and she would have a good time. I couldn't have picked a better location for her first experience.
There are various packages on offer, depending on what you're looking for. I paid around £75 for unlimited access to the spa area, with lunch included, and a couple of treatments added on for between £25 - £35 each. We both had the fish pedicure as I thought this would be a good introduction to treatments as we could sit side by side, and then my mum went on to have an Indian Head massage, since this was the least intimidating of the options I thought she might like.
The spa offers packages aimed at mothers and daughters, couples, mothers to be, brides to be, and just for general relaxing. Most packages start with a rate for accessing the spa, and then you add to this with whatever extras you would like. They also do overnight packages, and packages designed especially for men. I would recommend taking a look at all the packages, rather than the one that looks most suitable, for example we got better value by designing our own package than opting for the "Mother and Daughter" package.
As part of your day, you will be given a dressing gown, slippers and towel which are to be returned afterwards, and there is a changing room with a few private cubicles, showers, hairdryers and so on. You can access a locker to keep your things safe, these are all things I knew my mum would be worrying about having never been to a spa before, so I made a point of checking it all out and reassuring her beforehand.
The spa area was quite frankly the nicest I have been to yet. There is a swimming pool, a hydro pool with waterfall fountain (my mum was addicted to this!), a steam room, various aromatherapy rooms (thermal suites to give them their proper name), and apparently there are 14 treatment rooms (although we only saw one obviously!). You are also allowed to access the gym as part of your package but really......as if!
I can't really put my finger on what it was that made this trip so relaxing, I think it was the atmosphere. Sometimes I find spa breaks a little on the non-relaxing side if there are kids running round and the staff seem harassed. But here, even though there were a few children and babies, the atmosphere was lovely and relaxed. The amenities were the cleanest I've seen, and there were plenty of loungers for everyone. The hydro pool has a roof which opens to allow a bit of air to come in, and we were lucky to visit on a clear day so it was a bit like being in an outside Jacuzzi which was different and relaxing.
The swimming pool itself was quite small, and was split into lanes for the serious swimmers. I didn't really find this a problem though as there was still room to swim, but I didn't spend long in there as I wasn't really up for exercise so much as a leisurely swim, and felt a bit like I was holding others up!
We had a fish pedicure together, which was delayed because one of the tanks had broken. To make up for this they gave us a complimentary glass of sparkling wine, which was nice as it made no difference to us given that we literally had all day! We sat together in the treatment room and this made it nice and sociable, and something we could experience together.
My mum then had an Indian Head massage, which she said was amazing. She got to chill out in the post-treatment room afterwards and said she was so relaxed she nearly fell asleep! I was really pleased that the staff were so pleasant and made it relaxing for us. I have been to spas in the past where the staff have been stressed and have let this show. Although I know we all get stressed sometimes, I think it's important to try to hide this when you work in an environment where people come to escape their own stresses.
The spa offers a range of treatments including massage, facials, manicures and pedicures, tanning, along with holistic therapies such as Indian Head massage and more specialised treatments such as mud treatments.
They also sell gift vouchers which is a lovely idea for a special gift for someone.
Lunch was a buffet mixed with table service for the starter. You got to choose a starter and dessert, and then the main lunch was on a buffet table. This offered all sorts of meats, dips, salads, and pate. The starter was soup, and the desserts were little tarts or cakes. It was in the café area by the spa, so everyone else was also in dressing gowns. This made us feel a little less self conscious!
I would definitely recommend this spa as a memorable experience. I have been on disappointing spa breaks and I would have hated this to have turned out that way as it was a special present for my mum's 60th. I hope to return here again before too long, especially as it's in such a convenient location for us. I have to give this five stars.
(This review also appears on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)