I think I can safely leave it to Mr AMR to sum up the new Aqua Sana Spa Suites at Center Parcs, Elveden Forest. This is a man who has travelled extensively, staying at some of the most expensive and highly regarded hotels in the world – a man who is married to the pickiest woman in the world (maybe), and a man who doesn’t bandy around these types of sentences very often:
“This might just be the nicest suite that I have ever stayed in.”
“Better than that suite in the Bellagio?” said I, “the one with three bathrooms and those automatic curtains?”
“Better than the Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain, Arizona?”
“It’s up there,” he said, sliding the door open onto the wooden-decked balcony.
What a compliment! I do hope that the people who thought up Center Parcs’ Spa Suites realise quite how much of an amazing job they have done. Sorry – Center Parcs I hear you say? Yes! Center Parcs! They of the glass-domed waterparks, the forest dwellings, home to about two thousand grey squirrels that dart out in front of you and make you almost fall off your bike. Center Parcs!
I was slightly apprehensive about visiting the Spa Suites, I have to admit. I just wasn’t sure what to expect. I couldn’t see how Center Parcs could pull off an exclusive, luxury package of the type that they were proposing when the Aqua Sana Spa has such a high number of visitors – they offer spa days with lunch and a glass of bubbly for around £70 and it’s always, pretty much, full to capacity. They offer spa ‘breaks’ with accommodation for around £140. How could they possibly create a break that would be noticeably different to the others? More luxurious, more ‘VIP’?
Here’s how. Build four suites that any person would be happy to live in, design them brilliantly so that the space feels large yet cosy with areas that can be closed off or opened up to create different moods. Decorate them sumptuously with flickering faux fires and huge flat-screen TVs, expensive designer lamps, beautiful wallpaper. Furnish them with a kitchenette, a large, comfortable bed, a complete living area, two desks, a double walk-in shower with massage jets, a separate giant bathtub next to the bedroom with its own television, an outdoor balcony with daybed, a fridge stocked with a few essentials. Provide a full concierge service. Provide a special, exclusive body and face spa treatment for every guest. Make sure that the guests receive VIP treatment when in and around the spa, with a little glass of bubbly waiting when they emerge from their treatment. Leave little Elemis gift packs on their bed and complimentary toiletries dotted all around the suite…
Shall I go on? Center Parcs have got this just right. Better than just right, actually. For around £200 per night, guests get treated supremely well – and if you’re balking at the idea of £400 for a spa night for two, let me just quickly break the price down for you: that’s two days’ access to the spa (value already at about £200), two days’ bike hire (£80), two exclusive treatments (about £160-ish), lunch and breakfast paid for (valued at what, £50?) and two £20 vouchers towards dinner. What are we up to? More than £400, and we haven’t even included accommodation yet! (Which, as Mr AMR rightly pointed out, you’d easily pay over £400 for at a posh hotel..)
The upshot of this is; if you’re thinking of going on a spa break or spa day, you would be mad not to go for this deal. It’s a cracker. Perfect for Valentine’s Day (though I have an inkling they will be booked up by now) or anniversaries, birthday treats, retreats for Mums-to-be, Dads-to-be, knackered parents, new lovebirds… It really is great.
My top tip? You can arrive early (9am) on the day of arrival and you don’t need to leave until 9pm on the day of departure. Your room, however, can only be occupied as per a normal hotel room (afternoon check-in, morning check-out). I would spend all of the time in your room whilst you have it, having a long soak in the big round bath, watching TV, relaxing in your fluffy robe… And then come checkout time I’d have my inclusive treatment, use the spa, trundle about on my bike, have lunch, do all of the things that you felt bad about not doing the day before! Make use of the room – it’s superb.
More info here: AQUA SANA BREAKS
(All of the photos are mine, not press ones, so please don’t use them without permission.)