The Spa at the Delamar Hotel in Greenwich Connecticut

Delamar Hotel SpaAs part of a recent work assignment on location in Greenwich Connecticut, the schedule included (much to my joy!) a complimentary treatment at the Delamar Hotel spa. Located on the waterfront, the hotel overlooks a pretty marina with fancy sailboats and kind of reminds you of a laid back Summer postcard. Having flown long distance to get there,  I opted for a Swedish massage as my treatment du jour. Perfect for weary travelers but not too demanding for already jet lagged muscles.

The decor of the Delamar Hotel spa was like an elegant drawing room with deep powder-blue armchairs, a large ottoman poof and an assortment of easy reading coffee table books. On the walls, ornately framed paintings depicting 19th century women enhanced the female tone of the Spa – which suited our party perfectly as we were 18 women in total. Champagne cooled in ice buckets and there were platters of fresh fruit for nibbling on, making the Spa reception room a tempting venue to stay put in forever. And in case it seemed overly fussy and ornate, in the center of the room there was 2 porcelain white cock-a-too parrots, which added a bohemian vibe to the afternoons proceedings.

Delmar Hotel SpaEnsconced in brown satin wool bathrobes, our line up of ladies was funny and lighthearted and with efficient coordination we were each escorted to individual treatment rooms. My therapist was calm and confident and led me into a serene low lite room with heated massage table. Her strokes were experienced and effective with knots and aches being slowly ironed out as she worked her way around my body. Although I was in the mood to relax and drift off, my brain decided otherwise and for the for the first part of the treatment the events of the morning played over in my mind and I became distracted by the blinking lights of the heating system underneath the massage table. My therapist gently chided me to leave my cares at the door and true enough I slowly began to relax and switch off. I had requested no head massage in order to keep my hair intact for the evening ahead but I soon regretted my choice as it became clear that my therapist was a master of neck and shoulders and who knows what she could have done for my scalp!

With 60 minutes now showing on the clock, my time was up and I was escorted back to the elegant living room for a choice of mint water, fruit or more champagne.  As more of our party drifted back happily to the reception area, the conversation struck up again and it took quite some time for everyone to move out of the beautiful lounge space to go back to business of the day.  A reminder for me personally that unwinding and letting go can happen any where, any time with any number of people…

Delamar Hotel Spa, 500 Steamboat Road, Greenwich, CT06830

Exfoliation at the Bvlgari Hotel Milan

Bvlgari HotelAs part of my recent Detox program, I upped the ante on my regime by including a body exfoliation at the luxurious Bvlgari Hotel when I was last visiting Milan. Located in one of the nicest parts of the city, the Bvlgari Hotel overlooks beautiful botanical gardens and is reputed to be the most exclusive hotel in the city.  I visited it on a quiet Sunday afternoon and observed many elegant guests in the lobby and adjoining spa. I chose my treatment carefully from the extensive spa menu and settled on the creme dela mer inspired ‘La mer signature body treatment with exfoliation’ to apparently ‘renew, relax and restore’ my body.  I don’t normally use the La mer range of products, but with a diamond component, I was happily anticipating beautiful shimmery skin by the end of my treatment.

Bvlgari Hotel MilanI was brought to the changing rooms by a friendly member of staff and instructed to wait by the poolside. I changed into a light blue fluffy bathrobe but found to my horror that I had been given an extremely snug fitting robe which meant crossing my legs by the edge of the pool was out of the question. So I lay as discreetly as possible on one of the loungers and had time to take in the curious stream of Italian male bathers taking lazy selfies of themselves in the Jacuzzi.

Bvlgari HotelFinally my nice therapist arrived and escorted me to my treatment which began with a ping of a tuning fork. My body was first carefully covered with a scrub which was applied with aromatic oils from head to toe. Once this was completed competently, I had to shuffle my way across the corridor to the changing rooms for a rinsing shower and then return for the second part of my treatment, almost colliding in the corridor to yet another male bather. My preference would have been to have had a shower in the privacy of the treatment room, but alas such design plans had clearly not been factored into the layout of the Bvlgari Hotel spa.
Bvlgari SpaLeaving this inconvenience aside, I must say that the massage was very good and I sailed away to La-La land between the soft rhythmic strokes right up into my scalp as part of the treatment. For the first time in my spa memories, magnets were applied to my feet and hands to apparently help with aligning my mind. I was a bit skeptical that anything within this galaxy would be able to calm my mind, but I did genuinely feel very relaxed and floaty.  The treatment ended with a final twang of the tuning fork in my ear signalling that it was time to peel myself off the treatment table and go back to reality.  I was offered a selection of dried fruits, herbal teas and cereal as part of my spa aperatif, but I opted instead to make my way back through the quiet streets of Milan and unwind for the evening.


Enjoying the new spa at Ashford Castle

By Natalie McGuinness, guest writer for Unwind and let go.

The spa at Ashford Castle was reviewed by The Irish Times shortly before I visited, so my anticipation levels were raised based on the glowing feedback. The spa is a cleverly designed glass annex like an orangery for cultivating beauty and relaxation, tucked away in the west of Ireland. My first visit to the Spa was for an emergency file and paint.

Ashford CastleOn entering the Spa you can see the nail area straight ahead with reception on your right. I was warmly welcomed and offered a choice of a refreshing lemon or cucumber infused water. The treatment room has large wooden thrones set into the wall. The thrones have matching wooden tables covered with a fluffy towel for hand treatments – unusually there was no palm rest or direct lighting on the table. The recessed thrones are clever as they provide privacy and they also have ingenious inserts into the wall to hold your water or other small belongings. It is very on brand with Ashford Castle, but I’m not convinced how comfortable the chairs are for a full hour manicure. I was starting to wriggle with discomfort after 25 minutes.

Ashford castle spaThe therapist was charming. She was friendly, but not too friendly, and worked hard to prep my poor nails before painting with gorgeous essie. This extra effort was certainly not part of the treatment, but much appreciated. Sadly, the nail varnish I picked proved to be a bit too popular! Half-way through the treatment the therapist struggled to scrap the gloopy bottom of the bottle. As a result the coverage was a little uneven and it was hard to get precise edges. The gap between my cuticles and the polish was wide enough to warrant a tannoy announcement. Despite the gap the shine was lovely and my nails appeared really glossy when finished. Afterwards I was shown to the relaxation area, which faces east to the river. It is a lovely calm space filled with delicious homemade treats like granola and sponge squares. I won’t embarrass myself by admitting how many I ate. For healthy people with will power there are nuts, protein balls, apples and more water. I didn’t see any hot beverage options which was surprising given the low temperatures outside, but these might have been available on request. The only small thing letting down an otherwise lovely relaxation area was a lack of magazines. Perhaps this was to encourage Zen, but one of my treats is flicking through a magazine and Golfers Digest just didn’t fit the brief. Overall it was a lovely experience for such a minor treatment, but next time I will pick a less popular colour.

Ashford Castle - checking outDay two I returned to the Spa for an Elemis facial. As I was checking out of Ashford Castle after the treatment I went down in my robe, with my bags. The changing room isn’t really designed for much usage or luggage. There are two short rows of anorexic lockers, which only have enough room for a robe and a pair of shoes. Alternatively, you can drop the rest of your luggage to reception. Some of the lockers and seating are located directly in front of the door to reception, which can result in some guests getting a room with a view! The two shower rooms and loos are surprisingly spacious compared with the changing area and the room is well stocked with cotton wool, shower caps and Elemis products.

I was brought to the stunning pool area to complete my pre-treatment form. You could happilyspend your entire day in this room watching the clouds or looking at the exquisite designs and sculptures on the wall, while listening to the lap of the water. The pool is really only for dipping and has a number of seats and jets, so not an option for swimmers. It is deliciously child free in the afternoon. Dragging myself away from my pool side lounger I went for a quick steam to enhance my impending facial. The steam room is almost as stunning as the pool area. Hewn from stone with a wonderful full length window, balcony and fountain sink it was a real immersion experience.

Ashford Castle Spa
It was such a wonderful experience that I almost missed my appointment time so do find some way to track time (no clocks or timers that I could see) or ask someone to come and get you. Again my Therapist was lovely and I was shown to a large double sized treatment room. Due to my notoriously indecisive nature combined with a wide choice it was a difficult to select one facial. Also, there was no reference guide or price list in the room and with a 30% difference in facial prices this could prove a costly selection. We eventually settled on one of the nourishing vitamin facials and I hopped up on the heated bed. On a cold day this was a glorious treat. The Therapist was superb and adapted the treatment to my needs and kindly offered a hand instead of a head massage. She also adapted two of the facials I struggled to choose between, which was excellent client service. Each stage of the treatment was explained and I was guided through the phases so I was completely comfortable and relaxed. The only missing element was that of smell – normally scented oils are used in the room or during the facial and I think this is a missed opportunity, both in the treatments and throughout the spa. It is only a small point, but the sense of smell has a powerful impact on mood and state. Afterwards I had the choice between the pool or relaxation rooms and I opted for the pool room for a short rest before leaving the spa in full bloom.

[Natalie is a late arrival to the world of beauty and spa treatments, but they are now an essential part of her battle against time and gravity].

A facial at Hotel Principe Di Savoia Milan

Milan Accademia

Whenever I travel to Milan, I like to stay at the Hotel Principe Di Savoia. Quintessentially Italian with luxurious interiors and slightly chaotic service, the hotel is a landmark meeting place not too far from the iconic Duomo and central fashion district. In recent times, I have through various commitments been back and forth to the hotel and though I am rarely greeted as a frequent customer or with any semblance of recognition, I always like to return for the luxurious bedrooms and scrumptious La Dolce Vita decor.

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Deep Tissue Massage at The Marker Hotel Dublin

I had been meaning to visit the Spa at the Marker Hotel in Dublin for a number of months, especially as it was recently awarded Top Spa by Irish Tatler. The Spa, located on the 1st floor up a discreet flight of stairs, has a minimal look and feel. While it doesn’t quite have the sharp contemporary interior as the Peninsula in Paris, it is clean, relaxed and inviting and a perfect city centre escape.  As it happened, Friday evening turned out to be free in my calendar and as the week wore on between work and travel, I thought it was as good a time as any to check it out.

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Moroccan Hammam experience for two

By Mark Ody, guest writer for Unwind and let go.

Two years ago, my partner Marie and I visited the Heure Bleue Hotel in Essaouira on holiday. It was my first time visiting a  Moroccan Hammam, my only time so far, but now I feel a constant yearning to return. We had left our kids with willing and ageless grandparents, and flew from Marseilles looking forward to our autumnal break of culture, warmth, golf and sleep.

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Exfoliation at the Shelbourne Spa

After six weeks in the windswept North West, my skin was feeling dry and in need of some serious exfoliation and after a consultation with the Shelbourne Spa, I booked myself in for an elemis Exotic Coconut Body Rub and Milk Ritual Wrap.  Even though, an exfoliation treatment is less about relaxation and more about results, I was hoping for a repeat of my wonderful visit to the Six Senses in Paris [see here].


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