Spas are big business.
Apparently more than 35 million Brits spend £5.2bn on spa services and treatments each year, with the hotel spa market tempting more and more of us to unwind, de-stress and treat ourselves to a relaxing break that’s good for mind and body.
Hence the £1.4m spent refreshing the spa at Macdonald Craxton Wood, just north of Chester.
The spa here is self-contained, rather than leisure facilities and a couple of treatment rooms at a hotel, so you can treat yourself to a genuine spa day or, as we did, stay over too.
The major investment has created a lovely space in which to while away the day. Fancy a dip in the 18m pool with its two walls of windows overlooking the gardens? Why not dry off afterwards in the cute courtyard-style garden or on a sun lounger on the lawns?
At the heart of the spa is the thermal suite. Here there are two spacious saunas – one herbal, with a fixed temperature. A good-sized, sweetly scented steam room has colour-changing mood lighting. There’s also a foot spa and, to boost your circulation, a constantly refreshed supply of ice to wipe over your body after you’ve had a hot treatment. Invigorating stuff.
We enjoyed a healthy and tasty lunch in the light and airy spa café before heading off for our treatments. I was booked in for a facial. My 75 minutes also included a head, arm and hand massage and was a really enjoyable experience that left me looking, and feeling, better than when I went in! My husband was equally pleased with his back massage which he said was one of the best he’d had.
After easily whiling away a good six hours at the spa, we checked into our room at the hotel itself. Formerly a country house, it has had the standard hotel extensions you’ll find at most large hotels, and we were in one of the ‘Classic’ rooms in the modern wing. Upgrades (including rooms in the original manor house) are available but our room was large, comfortable and had everything we needed. Styling was traditional rather than contemporary but furnishings were fresh and new.
Our deal included dinner, for which we got two courses from a short menu which nonetheless covered most tastes. You can pay extra to add a starter or dessert, or use an £18 allowance against the rather pricy a la carte menu. Our meal was very well cooked but the portions were a little on the small size.
Breakfast was also served in the dining room’s conservatory extension overlooking the gardens – the hotel is beautifully surrounded by gardens and woodland, giving a really secluded and peaceful feel. There was a good choice of cereals, yoghurt and fruit, plus a full cooked breakfast and toast, setting you up nicely for the day.
And there are plenty of options for filling a day. You’re close to the city of Chester, Cheshire Oaks outlet shopping village and Chester Zoo. Blue Planet Aquarium just up the road in Ellesmere Port has Europe’s largest collection of sharks, or visit the National Waterways Museum. The county styles itself as having the best gardens in England, so that hackneyed phrase ‘something for everyone’ does seem to be covered by this corner of Cheshire.
Macdonald Craxton Wood is a comfortable, attractive hotel with a spa that certainly won’t disappoint. It also had some of the friendliest staff I’ve met. As 35 million of us are finding, a spa break is perfect for recharging the batteries.
Spa break packages are from £129 per person, including dinner, bed and breakfast, full use of the spa and an hour long treatment.