If you ask me, the Romans had the right idea when it came to relaxation.
In so many ways they were ahead of their time and testament to this is the fact that many of us still choose to spend our spare time and money lounging at pool sides and enjoying spa visits while dressed in the modern form of the toga...the fluffy dressing gown. And why not?
Recently I, in a heavily pregnant state, waddled through the doors of Ragdale Hall near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, to enjoy a one night stay known as the ‘overnight reviver break’.
Accompanied by my mum, this was not my first trip to Ragdale and hopefully it won’t be my last as I now rate it one of the best spas I have ever been to.
The staff are immediately welcoming and friendly, ushering visitors through for a coffee or tea in the bar, where they can fill out their registration forms at their leisure.
We checked into our room, which was a beautiful twin room with two huge windows overlooking the Leicestershire countryside. As my mother noted, it would be possible to spend the same amount on a flight abroad but enjoy less luxury and inferior views to a simple stay in the next county.
We donned our swimming costumes and towelling robes and hit the spa.
Mum and I both suffer from psoriasis and, short of a hot and sunny beach break somewhere abroad, a stay at Ragdale is the only thing that comes close in terms of its beneficial impact on the skin. Sadly this time - due to my own caution over pregnancy - I gave the hottest of the sauna rooms a miss, but Mum had a fantastic time fully utilising the thermal spa rooms, including the scented colour flow cave which is dark apart from the light coming from a central ‘crystal mountain’.
Mum’s favourite, in terms of skin benefits was the volcanic salt bath, which is set at the temperature of 40-42 C, and includes a central water feature. Spritzed into the air is a eucalyptus essence with a 20 per cent salt infusion.
However, there are also plenty of attractions at the spa to keep a mum-to-be happy. I enjoyed a bit of exercise, swimming in the pool and also made multiple trips to the candle pool. The candle pool is a warm cave-like room lit by faux flickering candles and filled with the sound of classical music. Spending most of my current time plodding around and feeling heavy, the room gave me a lovely opportunity to float on my back, feeling weightless, and to properly relax.
More of a social area can be found in the waterfall pool, which includes water heated to a constant 34 C. The idea is that you enter the pool inside and slowly follow the path of water into the outdoors, where there are plenty of massage jets and waterfall cascades.
After a few hours in the spa we headed off for our Pure Radiance facial; something which is included in the price of the Overnight Reviver Break. The treatment was a blissful 50 minute session in which Elemis products suitable for individual skin types were used to exfoliate, moisturise and tone tired faces into a glowing state. For shopaholics like me, there is also a great shop stocked full of skin-care goodies so, should you wish to try to repeat the experience at home, the same products can be purchased.
One thing Ragdale visitors will never be is hungry, and our break also included dinner, breakfast and lunch. Lunch offers a menu starter followed by a buffet selection including healthy, but delicious foods such as curries, meat dishes, pastas, noodles, vegetable side dishes, delicious sauces, salads, cheese and baked potatoes. There is also a pudding option. For all meals, there are plenty of choices available, all well executed, to suit a variety of tastes.
With a huge range of treatments on offer, we felt we had merely scratched the surface of what Ragdale had to offer but we will be back...probably when I am a worn-out new mum in need of a break.
-The Overnight Reviver Break costs from £199 per person, including accommodation, meals, use of facilities and a 50 minute body massage or facial each. Robes are supplied.
-Fitness breaks on offer in 2014 include the Weight Loss Kickstart (from February 6-8 or November 20-22), the Walk to Fitness (April 10-12 or August 7-9), the Pilates Retreat (May 1-3 or October 2-4), Rosemary Conley at Ragdale (June 9-13), the Yoga Retreat (June 19-21) and the Strictly Come Dancercise Break (November 6-8).
-For more details on booking and the range of spa packages and treatments on offer, see the venue’s website, www.ragdalehall.co.uk or ring 01664 433000.