Binning the Blackberry

Wendy Carter enjoys a day of relaxatiion - and an impressive amount of eating and drinking - at the award-winning Calot Manor Spa

It was a tough decision when the editor asked if I would like to write a monthly spa review. In the Cotswolds we are very spoilt and have a number of fabulous spas, many award-winning - so I quickly calculated that this new arduous role could stretch out for over 12 months - so naturally I accepted.

Being pampered and lying around on comfy sofas seems to come very naturally to me - it is a skill I have honed since my first visit to a Staffordshire spa nearly 20 years ago.

Not only am I hooked on trying new treatments and chasing that ever diminishing youthful appearance, I am also very intrigued by the other guests entering this world of relaxation and self indulgence.

To kick off this series where better to start than Calcot Spa - recently voted by the discerning readers of Conde Nast magazine winner of the UK Spa Retreat.

A former English farmhouse, the 35-bedroom Calcot Manor is set around a pretty courtyard and ancient barns. The spa is separately housed from the hotel and provides seven treatment rooms, a large swimming pool, a well-equipped gym and a fabulous hot tub.

After driving through monsoon conditions I arrived feeling very flustered and late. I was however greeted by the smiling faces of the staff who seemed genuinely concerned for my welfare.

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My first treatment of the day was to have my Blackberry surgically removed, my only connection to the outside world. This was rather stressful at first, but soon I felt cleansed and oddly I didn't miss it at all.

After completing the obligatory medical questionnaire and not being totally honest about my units of alcohol intake each week - or my current stress levels, I was taken through to my treatment room for my Aromatherapy Associates Rose Indulgence Facial.

One thing that strikes you immediately about Calcot is the professional demeanor of the therapists - it is clear that they have extensive knowledge of their products and really go out of their way to ensure that you enjoy your treatment. The treatment rooms are spacious, not too warm, you are also given the option of having the 'relaxing' music turned off - a great idea.

Suffice to say the facial was bliss -the therapist politely suggested that my skin would benefit from the 'Renew' range, the fragrance was fantastic and not overbearing, with the main ingredient being oil from the Damask rose, famed for its hydrating and softening qualities- this treatment has the added benefit of back and head massage.

I had all good intentions of visiting the gym, but lunch was calling, so I simply looked through the window - I can confirm that the gym is very well equipped and is obviously very popular with the spa visitors and hotel guests.

The lunch menu was varied, well-priced and the food was presented beautifully; I chose the pumpkin soup followed by an open crab and avocado sandwich.

Before my second treatment I decided to try the outdoor hot tub, heated to 40 degrees and situated in front of a log fire - it really doesn't get more decadent than that - with the added treat of having your favorite tipple served whilst you luxuriate amongst the bubbles.

The afternoon commenced with an Enrich body treatment. Enrich is a new range of products that has just been launched by Aromatherapy Associates and was added to Calcot's menu in July. Starting with an intense body exfoliation - some may find the exfoliator a little too coarse, although my skin certainly did benefit - once this is showered off, your thirsty skin is replenished with an exotically fragranced serum, culminating with a relaxing massage using skin oil. The whole treatment left my skin feeling beautifully soft and clean, and not at all greasy.

After sampling a slice of carrot cake with a great cup of fresh coffee, my final treat was a manicure. As a fan of Jessica nail products I am familiar with the range, but again the therapist took time to inform me.

If I could change one thing it would be the location of the caf� area. It is in the main thoroughfair and some guests may find it a little noisy - and also be uncomfortable if lazing around in robes. There is, however, a relaxation room upstairs as an alternative.

It is clear to see why Calcot Spa has won so many awards. The therapists are extremely knowledgeable and the attention the detail is second to none. The treatment menu is extensive but fairly priced.

Finally I had to be reconnected to the outside world. Within seconds the Blackberry started to make that all too familiar bleeping noise, but I decided that everyone would have to wait - I was far too relaxed to return their calls.

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