Fish Kiss Spa, Aztec Spar, Torquay

Anna Turns gets pampered from head to toe at Aztec Spar, Torquay

Fish Kiss SpaAnna Turns gets pampered from head to toeEven as a reflexologist, the concept of fish nibbling away at my feet to clean them was a strange one! However, I was pleasantly surprised on my visit to Aztec Spa in Torquay. 

On arrival, Rebecca Laight introduced me to her 400 Garra Rufa fish, her pride and joy, which live in four tanks at one end of the relaxation area of the spa. After her nine-year-old daughter first saw this fish spa on American television, Rebecca searched for somewhere to try this experience for herself. Although this organic pedicure had recently become all the rage in London and the Midlands, the nearest location was Bristol, where Rebecca and her daughter tried it and became complete converts. “It’s definitely not a gimmick – it actually works and you’ll feel great afterwards,” says Rebecca, who decided to bring these fish to Devon and opened her Fish Kiss Spa in February this year. “Since opening, it just took off,” says Rebecca, who is now heading for a busy summer season. 

“Sometimes I feel like I have become a marine biologist!” says Rebecca, who works as a dance teacher, but since opening she cleans out the fish tanks daily to keep fish in their optimum environment. Water is constantly filtered and refreshed, as much for the health of the fish as for that of the next customer. “The fish are so important to me, and I make sure they have scheduled ‘coffee breaks’ so they only work for 45 minutes out of each hour,” explains Rebecca. “This way, they are always hungry and ready to clean feet, so the customer always receives a great treatment.”

As I immersed both my feet into the spa tank, I couldn’t ignore the initial intense tickly feeling as the minnow-sized fish begin to suck away at your dead and loose skin. The Garra Rufa fish from Turkey also produce an enzyme containing dithranol, a natural healing enzyme that is found in most rejuvenating therapy creams, which stimulates the growth of new skin cells. 

"One of the major health benefits is relief from psoriasis and eczema,” explains Rebecca, “because the fish target the plaques of sore, red and thickened skin.” The lady next to me, a weekly customer, finds the fish spa is a much more effective treatment for eczema than any prescribed creams have been. 

After the initial intensity wears off, it feels quite comfortable. After 30 minutes of natural exfoliation and micro-massage my feet felt softer and totally relaxed. 

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After a brief break in the cosy relaxation area, an underground retreat with a rainforest feel, head therapist Liz Downs took me through to her treatment room for a Visible Brilliance facial. She used indulgent Elemis products on my skin and rosewood essential oils. As well as deep cleansing and face packs, the treatment included a relaxing arm, hand and scalp massage. To finish, Liz gave my toe nails a shine and polish, and I felt totally pampered.

A world away from conveyor-belt-type treatments, the atmosphere in the Aztec Spa gave a sense of escape from the real world, and with such friendly and attentive staff I felt indulged. 

Above all, the Fish Kiss adds an element of novelty to the more traditional spa treatments – I will certainly recommend it! 

Aztec Spa, Falkland Road, Torquay. 01803 400190,

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