travel

Which spas are so special even seasoned beauty travelers can’t wait to return? From Cornwall to Antigua, Kelly Gibert picks up the trail

1.    Jessica Hogan on romance at Soneva Fushi by six senses in the Maldives

Description: Soneva Fushi resort

Soneva Fushi resort

There are few better places to feel awash with love than on an island in the middle of paradise. Soneva Fishi differs from its Maldivian counterparts in sheer size: it is big enough that if you don’t want to (and I didn’t), you don’t have to see anyone else, apart from your charming Man Friday, for the duration of your stay. My other half and I enjoyed many antisocial, but truly indulgent, secluded activities: a movie under the stars at the open-air cinema, sunset cocktails lying under nets on beds suspended over a lit-up coral reef, a picnic on the adjacent deserted island of Nibiliga, and several candlelit dinners à Deux in out villa. Well, I did say it was paradise… the pleasure continued with the Aphrodite Spa Experience for two, which involved massages and a rose-petal bath orchestrated with great delicacy, topped off with chilled champagne while we soaked. An unexpected surprise was falling head over heels with acupuncturist Maureen Cromey, whose healing hands fast-forwarded me to a state of relaxation that might otherwise have taken a week to achieve. Be still my beating heart.

Claridge’s health club & spa, London

Description: If you like Soneva Fushi, you’ll love… Claridge’s health club & spa, London

If you like Soneva Fushi, you’ll love… Claridge’s health club & spa, London

Squirrelled away on a lofty floor of Claridge’s is a spa gem. It is intimate, with just three treatment rooms, and has such charm. It uses Sisley products, which are a delight (the Sisleya Body Therapy is absurdly effective), and there’s a men’s range, so if you are away with a lover you can both book in to maximum effect.

2.    Kelly gilbert on child-friendly Carlisle Bay in Antigua

Description: Carlisle Bay in Antigua

Carlisle Bay in Antigua

I’d thought a truly child-friendly, luxury spa holiday in an exotic location impossible – anywhere offering a children’s supper-sitting, crèche, travel cots and cinema room is liable to be a bit Naff – until a friend told me about Carlisle Bay. It has all of the above, plus a serene, zen-like quality, and not a wipe-clean plastic table in sight. The Japanese aesthetic (filmy white curtains, dove-grey walls) helps, as does the curve of the bay where the hotel nestles it breaks the force of the sea so that it tickles at the sand. The spa is genius for many seasons, not least because you take the same path there as you do to the crèche (fun and secure with indoor and outdoor play areas run by cheery local staff), so you drop off and skip along guilt-free to the treatment bed. And here comes the good stuff: serious anti-ageing facials from Natura Bisse, with results as impressive as those you’d expect at home, mixed with, say, a pummelling from a local reflexologist. There are thoughtful options, too: soothing solutions for sunburnt skin, or exfoliations pre-swimwear. The décor is chic and bathed in sunlight (no basement rooms with piped music). Which is why Carlisle Bay is a slice of humble pie for me: clearly, if you know where to look, a beauty haven avec enfants is entirely possible.

The cowshed spa at Babington house, Somerset

Description: The Cowshed spa at Babington House, Somerset

The Cowshed spa at Babington House, Somerset

You’ll need to plan ahead, they offer only a few rooms that can be booked with children, but once you secure a Stable Block spot you’ll find yourself in reliably cool yet child-friendly surrounds. There is a lovely crèche in the grounds and a world-class spa in the magical Victorian walled garden.

3.    Frances Bentley on finding peace at the scarlet in Cornwall

Description: Clifftop hot-tub at The Scarlet

Clifftop hot-tub at The Scarlet

At the Scarlet, which sits on the north Cornish coast, the front door opens with a quiet swish and I’m greeted like an old friend. It’s a place where I feel cosseted from the world: partly because there’s no mobile-phone reception, except at the top of the hill, but mostly because the Atlantic lulls a busy mind into a dreamier space. The hotel’s eco credentials are comforting, but do nothing to distract from the luxury of the spacious rooms and the lavish, locally sourced food. My preferred spot is the outdoor hot tub, which looks out over the surf and is best enjoyed with a sundowner. You can borrow the hotel dog, Jasper, for a walk along the beach, or head out for a wild swim with your own personal instructor. I take advantage of the Ayurvedic massage during my stay, and use the time to meditate. For me, this plus lots of reading and
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