So Champneys then. Brace yourself, this is a little verbose (ooh I love that word). Well our first impression was ‘wow’. The old house is absolutely fantastic, nestling in acres of carefully tended Hertfordshire real estate and recently refurbished to include a plush new wing which has been cleverly incorporated into the original house, somehow managing to blend the two whilst cleverly keeping the new wing modern and the old bit traditional. Well, that’s what we reckoned anyway.
Less ‘wow’ altogether was the rugby scrum at the fitness desk where the extremely frazzled Champneys employees were trying to book in a hoard of day guests – thanks mainly to a 2 for 1 offer that was running at the time. Red-faced Champneys staff were rushing around giving tours and booking people in. One rushed past and barked ‘you’ve missed the tour!’ at us, but happily C is somewhat of a regular and R used to work there, so we weren’t worried about finding our way around. It certainly wasn’t conducive to a restful day of pampering, no siree. We’d gone for a ‘Spa Day’ which included a Thalassotherapy treatment, a half hour facial and a half hour massage, oh and lunch, which left an inordinately long time for lounging and chatting. This was fine by us as we had a lot of catching up to do, but others may find it a bit boring.
Thalassotherapy first then – this is basically a session of being pummelled and massaged by various water jets, fountains and streams of bubbles in a swimming pool full of er…stuff. I think it’s minerals and things, it certainly tastes funny. Adolf Hitler in a white uniform was our guide for the day (blimey, would it kill you to crack a smile?) and we were quizzed on everything from our medical history to our bowel movements before being allowed to set so much as a big toe in the water. We were moved around the various different jets and bubbly bits in the water, and I have to say it was rather nice. All too soon, Nurse Hitler was telling us to get out though, where we were ordered to have a shower (with soap!) to remove the minerals and stuff from the pool. Scary.
I’m skipping a lot of the lazing about we did – we also had a very quick swim (two lengths in Olympic-standard times – it was freeeeezing!!) and various sauna/plunge bath/Jacuzzi sessions which were all free. At one stage Frank Bruno wandered past (‘ooh, he’s toned’) and we saw Marlene from Only Fools and Horses, which prompted a session of Boycie impersonations (it’s okay, she didn’t hear). The facial and massage were very nice, although they’re over SO quickly. C got a right result as her therapist had no more appointments and treated her to an extra long session (ooer). She floated back down to the waiting room where R&I were waiting, assuming that she’d done her usual trick and fallen asleep, looking very relaxed, having had extra work on her bad shoulder and a very nice chat to boot. R & I wondered whether the therapist had a bit of a crush (C is gorgeous) but nope, C assured us there were no ‘extras’ (ho ho).
There you have it, then. Lunch was nice (more queuing), consisting of healthy-ish hot dishes like a delicious lemony grey mullet and salmon combo, herby chicken, roasted new potatoes and plenty more in the hot buffet, plus the usual salad bar suspects. The waiter got us all excited by asking us if we wanted fruit or dessert, only for us to discover that the dessert was fruit as well (doh!). Highlight of the day for me, apart from getting to spend a whole day with my much-missed pals of course, was the Spa Shop. Champneys products are superb, in fact I’d go so far as to say they’re on a par with Clarins – a nice wide range, modern ingredients, yummy smells and classy packaging, all for a fraction of the price. Their face masks come in really nice packs of sachets so naturally I had to purchase a pack (well, I WAS travelling), and then ended up loading myself down with an unfeasibly heavy jar of Exotic Body Glow body scrub (heavenly smelling and a blingtasticly fabulous jar), some of their wonderful Intensive Cracked Heel Treatment Balm (yummy smell + soft feet = bonus) and an Overnight Sensation Hand Care Treatment which smells gorgeous – I think it’s lavender - too. The whole lot setting me back just £30.00 which is er …divide by two multiply times three … [takes off socks, crosses eyes] about 45 Euro…phew. I was dead impressed.
Their Mother-to-be range contains a Collagen Boost Body Butter, which R’s sister had used throughout her pregnancy without accruing a single stretch mark. Our therapist recommended it for us non-preggers types too – fab for body smoothing and treating existing marks – a total bargain at a tenner. Sadly they don’t deliver to Ireland, but I’ll be getting Hubby to load his case up before he comes back.
Overall, then, our spa day got about a 7/10, gaining marks for wonderful venue and fab shopping, but losing them for their greedy over-booking and stingy free treatments. Oh, and you had to pay for teas and coffees too. After paying over £120 for a single day (and no, I’m not changing that into Euro – do it yourself)? Pah!