women

The seaside spa

Barefoot luxury doesn’t get any better than this Turkish haven, says Sarah Mason

What sort of spa-goer are you? Do you prefer a natural approach, with the sound of chirping birds, or the slightly more clinical style of a minimalist environment? Personally, when it comes to massage I want to be soothed by the sounds of swaying trees – but for a cleansing facial or body treatment, I don’t want the tiniest speck of dirt in the room with me. The Hillside Beach Club in the pretty southern Turkish resort of Fethiye covers both bases brilliantly, making for a splendid all-round spa experience.

At one end of the resort, set back from the adult-only ‘silent’ beach (there is also a family beach) is the SANDA Nature Spa. Here Balinese therapists offer a range of full-body massages and treatments in tree houses. After being greeted with a cup of ginger tea to help the detoxifying process, I’m led to my back-to-nature treatment room and given the Rain Forest: 75 minutes of massage and stretching of limbs that leave me totally blissed out.

For a thorough cleansing, the beach club’s second SANDA spa offers a range of facial and body treatments. Don’t miss the traditional Turkish hammam, where you lie on a marble slab and have your skin scrubbed to within an inch of its life by a therapist before softening body lotion is applied. Admittedly, the bucket of ice-cold water poured over my head at the end comes as a bit of a shock, but I’ve never felt so clean!

The Hillside Beach Club is devoted to healthy living so, along with a fitness centre, there are exercise classes aplenty. Get your fit fix with sunrise and sunset yoga, aerobics, BodyPump and an accompanied walk in the surrounding hills – best of all, you’ll receive a glass of wine at the top! With the Med lapping metres from your room, you can even take up a new watersport – the choice covers waterskiing to wakeboarding, all taught by friendly, qualified instructors.

As for dining, you can be as virtuous or indulgent as you choose. The all-inclusive deal includes breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner at a choice of three restaurants, which take influences from Europe and the Middle East. From waiter service at the smart beachside Pasha on the Bay to the generous buffet at the main restaurant, you’ll find barbecued fish dishes and a huge range of delicious and imaginative salads and dips – so there’s no excuse not to be good!

Spa rules explained

Yes they’re all about relaxation, but spas have unwritten rules. Just in case you haven’t worked them out yet, here they are:

·        Don’t arrive late or in a rush – getting there 15 minutes before your appointment will give you time to get in the zone and fill in the form that they’re likely to give you if it’s your first visit.

·        Do turn off your mobile and leave it in your locker. The whole spa experience is about relaxing away from distractions, even in the changing room.

·        Don’t keep quiet if you’re not happy about something. A good therapist should check that you like the pressure of a massage, for example – so do politely speak up if they don’t ask.

·        Do sate if you’re not comfortable with a male therapist. They are increasingly common, but if it means you won’t be able to relax and enjoy your treatment, say as much when you book.

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