Way back when, I was gifted a voucher for a one-day visit with treatments to the Spa at Carden, in the grounds of the Carden Park Hotel, Cheshire.
At the time, the spa building and gardens were still under construction, but that was OK as I intended to save it up and treat my daughter. The Spa finally opened in January 2020 and I think we can all guess what happened next. As the expiry date came and went, I binned the voucher and thought, ‘oh well – you win some, you lose some’.
Then a couple of weeks ago I noticed a friend posting on Facebook that she was at the said spa and by the looks of things having a fantastic time. This coincided with my trying to plan some treats for my sister when she came to visit and what better treat than a spa day?
I contacted the hotel which, and without hesitation I may add, said they would honour the long since discarded voucher. Imagine the Brownie points when my sister learnt that on her third day of visiting, we were off to leafy Cheshire for a day of pampering.
I have visited Carden Park several times over the years, some of those as a judge for the Cheshire Life Food & Drink Awards for their glitzy award dinners, some for meetings. The trouble is, every time and I mean EVERY time I used the sat nav, it takes me in entirely different ways.
Unlike most people, my navigational skills are in the minus category, I don’t know my left from my right and everything is ‘just around the corner’. This trip to Carden, however, reached new heights of lost and a 40-minute drive turned into a two-hour test of u-turns and country lanes.
Finally, we got there and driving down the impressively long drive, you spot the back of the spa, which doesn’t quite prepare you for the WOW! when you approach it from the front. Most spas I have experienced are part of hotels, and therefore pretty much hidden from view. There was no hiding this one, the sheer size of the façade, the glistening water features at the doors and the friendliest of faces at reception suddenly made all those u-turns worth it. If the entrance and welcome were anything to go by, this was going to be a special day.
Once inside this £10 million development, it became clear why it was awarded Britain’s Best New Spa of 2020 by the Good Spa Guide and the 5 Bubble Luxury Spa rating, joining just 15 others in the UK.
We were given wrist bands on check-in which were activated to open internal doors, our lockers and payments for anything outside the package (drinks, food, treatments etc). Suddenly, I was grateful to be driving, imagine the temptation of the ‘Bolly’ Bar if we were staying over and channelling our inner Patsy and Edina.
After relaxing by the outside pool (there is an indoor pool too) in manicured gardens, cleverly arranged to create separate areas around the hot tubs, pods (for the more inclement weather), garden sauna and Bollinger Bar, it was time for lunch. A short but tasty menu, portion sizes were generous, this is a spa after all and not a detox retreat. The dining room is large, airy and overlooks the gardens, but still manages to feel comfortable.
The service was impeccable, and this is something that we commented on throughout the day. From our arrival to our departure, the level of customer service was outstanding. A young staff who were friendly, obliging and yet professional. Hats off to the management for getting this aspect so right.
There are 14 treatment rooms and three relaxation rooms ranging from bright to womb like depending on how you are feeling. For treatments, my sister opted for the Regenerating Face Ritual using Oskia products.
For me the Rejuvenating Facial and Massage using Elemental Herbology, which involved a questionnaire to establish my elements. Apparently, I am largely a metal with fire and earth tendencies. Initially, I was a little envious of not getting the Oskia products having tried them previously, but by the time my treatment was over, including the deep relaxation snores, I was more than happy with the results. We both had Abbie for our treatments and she deserves this shout out; knowledgeable, friendly and brilliant at that choreography of quiet movement.
We finished off the treatments by using a selection of the thermal experiences: Starting with the Aroma Steam room but stopping short of the Finnish Sauna. A final dip in the outdoor pool and suddenly the day was over.
I know glowing reviews don’t always ring true, and maybe some of the joy was being out of lockdown and spending time with my sister, but I really couldn’t fault our day. This business has set the bar high and a return visit is definitely on the cards.
There were a number of packages to choose from; we selected the Full Day Spa Experience from £185pp which included welcome refreshments, lunch in Elements restaurant, full use of the Spa Garden and Thermal Experiences between 10am and 5pm, a comfy robe, a pair of flip flops to take home, and a 50-minute spa ritual treatment.
To book: Visit www.cardenpark.co.uk or call 01829 731000