The SPA Traveller’s Janet Brice gives her top tips on finding the perfect swimming costumes for a spa break. She’s learned the hard way so you don’t have to!
When you’re packing for a spa break in Scotland or a spa retreat in the foothills of The Himalayas one item is essential – a swimsuit.
Now, this could be a one piece, bikini, or tankini but what I have discovered is you must invest in decent swimsuit which will withstand the rigours of chlorine in pools and Jacuzzi’s, the fading effects of the sun and heat of hammams.
To my cost I tried to cut corners and bought a rather cheap off-the-peg costume from the high street for a spa holiday to Cyprus.
It started off well-fitting with its rainbow strip glistening in the sun – but by the end of the first week of daily use it had faded, a clasp had snapped, the cups had become saggy and the ties soggy. The only option was the bin.
Fast-forward one year and with two overseas spa trips scheduled to Italy and Switzerland I decided it was time to seek out a couple of good quality swimsuits.
The costumes included a vibrant pink and red Lidea costing £89 and glamorous black and white Sahara Park Charmline priced at £119. You may feel this is expensive – but if you look at cost per wear it’s money worth spending.
Yes, you could buy the practical Zoggs or Speedo range, which have a chlorine resistant collection, but if you’re looking to add a touch of glamour to your spa experience then A-listers such as Elizabeth Hurley (who has her own swimwear range) are turning to the designer brands such as Charmline, Lidea, Maryon Melhorn, Seafolly and Vilebrequin for the men (who even make matching shorts for their sons!).
First impressions of the Charmline swim suit was it felt like a substantial piece of clothing and I particularly liked the bronze-coloured brass clasp which divided the bust-line – functional fashion at its best.
The fit was also perfect mainly because Charmline costumes are specially developed using a power material called MicroForming which makes extra pounds visually disappear. Supple foam cups offer a bust support, while the clever cuts and placed prints enhance the slimming effect.
Next to the popular quick-drying Charmline material, there is also a new, ultra-matt material, developed exclusively for the Charmline Collection. This material is characterised by its especially dry feel.
In contrast, the Lidea red and pink costume was soft to the touch with the bust held together with an eye-catching pink buckle. The leaf print could have been a little overpowering but looked better on than off.
Lidea combined ultimate comfort with style and after a whistle-stop tour of Swiss and Italian Thermae spas, which are rich in minerals, the shape and colour remained in tact.
The Charmline costume also returned home as good as new – surviving steam rooms, a hammam, salt room, numerous hot tubs and chlorine-rich pools. Although, I did learn that with such designer costumes its best not to wring it out too tightly as the fashionable bronze clasp could twist off – thankfully I stopped just in time!
And the moral for regular spa-goers is that you definitely get what you pay for…
Choose a good quality swim suit: Select a swimsuit with a high spandex content as this will hold its shape better and help you hold yours. If the suit is chlorine resistant it will be included in the description and brands such as Zoggs and Speedo produce these.
Hot tubs: These are extremely hard on swimsuits as the Bromine used and the extreme heat will fade and stretch your suit. Once out of the hot tub get it off and washed as soon as possible.
Cleaning: Chlorine, sweat, and minerals are aggressive enemies of fine elastane fibres. Wash your swimsuit with a gentle detergent and rinse it clean. This treatment maintains the elasticity and wrinkle-free fit of your garment. Or you can machine-wash it on the delicate cycle in a lingerie bag. Do not spin-dry underwire models.
Drying: It is almost a sin to leave quality swimwear lying around wet and crumpled or worse, in a plastic bag. Elastane models are quick-drying and best air-dried in the shade. Direct sunlight or contact with a heater make the fibres brittle. Do not tumbledry the garment.
Sunscreen: Smeared on your expensive swimsuit it can stain and damage the fibres! Apply your sun protection at least 20 minutes before putting on your costume.
Alternate swim suits: Try and give your swimsuits time to dry before reusing. The lycra/spandex is a memory yarn and needs 24 hours to go back to its original shape.
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