Spas have been working incredibly hard during lockdown to adapt their layouts and processes to be covid secure without compromising on the experience. Spabreaks.com Product Manager, Fiona Few, visited Rowhill Grange Hotel with her mum for a post-pandemic spa experience that was as luxurious as ever.
Driving up to the hotel you wouldn’t know that there had ever been a pandemic, except that the doors at the front entrance have been made automatic to minimise touch. Once inside, they have done a wonderful job of putting up screens at the front desks, and while everyone is still in masks as required, they are all incredibly friendly, smiley and make you feel extremely welcome. In fact, it all feels rather normal.
As a result of having to limit the number of people using the spa facilities at any one time, for social distancing, the first thing that’s really different about a post-pandemic spa break is the schedule that you’re given on arrival. You’re provided with a time slot to use the wet facilities, as well as a time for your treatment. Then if you’re staying overnight, you also have your dinner reservation booked in as well. It’s actually a process that I prefer, providing you with a clear journey through the spa experience and adding a little (but not too much) structure to your day. I think it’s especially good for anyone who is new to spa experiences and isn’t sure what’s best to use first.
The wet facilities at Rowhill Grange are a good size – they’re not enormous but they are luxurious. With the new protocols in place, we had lots of space to enjoy the pool with only six people at a time using the facilities. Every other lounger was out of use to add space between them, and everything was immaculately clean. Signage requested that we only use the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi for 10 minutes each to allow everyone to use them, and then they were wiped down again. That was plenty of time to use it like a thermal suite and feel ready for your spa treatment, and it really felt like having private use of the whole thing.
Once our time in the spa was up, a therapist came to take us for our treatments. This took us upstairs where we were asked to wash our hands, which is new. My therapist explained that she was going to wash her hands, wear a mask and reassured me that everything had cleaned in the room. You do need to keep your mask on during your treatment, at least for now, but other than that it was as beautiful a spa experience as ever.
One thing that is evident is that water is less readily available. It is offered to you at the end of your treatment, but where there used to be glasses and water jugs peppered around the spa, that’s no longer the case (understandably), so I would recommend taking your own water bottle.
One thing that was really nice to notice, was how happy the therapists and the team were to be back at work. Mine explained to me how she had a newfound love for her profession following lockdown, and it was really evident that the team were happy to be doing what they do so well once again.
After our treatments, we were taken to the relaxation room, where they have left all the beds in situ but have placed signs on every other one saying ‘please don’t sit here’. It was a nice way of doing things as it stopped it from feeling clinical and empty and almost seemed as though the beds were just reserved. Again, the numbers in here are limited and it’s the same people as those who were in the facilities with you, so there’s a nice sense of continuity.
After our spa experience we retired to our rooms for a while to relax. The rooms are largely as they have always been but some of the ‘clutter’, such as magazines, have been removed. When we went for dinner at our allocated reservation time, it was all table service. As is the case everywhere you need to wear your mask until you sit down, but other than that everything is quite normal. Staff are in masks but still display a warm welcome and seem genuinely happy to be there. At breakfast, there’s no longer a buffet – again, it’s table service – however portions are generous and we definitely felt thoroughly spoiled by the time we headed home.
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