SenSpa at Careys Manor Hotel, Brockenhurst
The relaxing surroundings of the New Forest, PLUS awesome hydrotherapy facilities - Tune in, turn on and drop out at SenSpa at Careys Manor
Tucked away in the New Forest, Careys Manor Hotel is home to SenSpa. This Thai-inspired spa has won numerous awards (including a rather shiny new Muddy Award for 2019) and is renowned for its fab atmosphere, extensive treatments and pretty cool hydrotherapy facilities.
I was invited to check out the newly relaunched ‘Mums Spa Escape’ package. The package includes a light breakfast and two-course lunch at the Zen Garden Thai Restaurant, full use of the hydrotherapy spa for 6 hours and a one hour massage and hair treatment. After the long Summer holidays, I was definitely in need of a little bit of “me-time” for sure.
The spa is modelled around a luxury Thai spa and, having lived in Thailand and visiting a number of high-end spas while over there, I was very interested to see how the whole thing compared. Quite honestly? Absolutely nailed it.
From the relaxed vibe as you are greeted through the doors of the spa, to the sights, smells and sounds – everything was exactly as I could have hoped. You’re presented with some relaxing herbal tea and a cold flannel before you get changed into your swimming costume and robe.
There was a real mix of clientele and the split between male and female was about 30:70, with lots of couples chilling out on mini-breaks to this neck of the woods. The spa was moderately busy with lots of people using the facilities, but we never had to wait or felt rushed at any point.
You’re quite spoilt for choice here with a fully-equipped gym, studio with regular classes and indoor UV pool. However, during our visit, we stayed in the hydrotherapy area which had more than enough to keep us occupied within the time-frame.
Definite highlights were the Experience Showers that mimic different types of storm and the Herbal Sauna, which is a slightly more manageable temperature than traditional saunas (but retaining all the benefits). One thing that really stood out was the incredible lighting in here. The majority of areas have ceilings that imitate twinkling stars in the night sky and it really kept the whole atmosphere really relaxed and calm.
There’s also a Relaxation Room and Quiet Room, reserved only for the spa users and is full of gratis tea, coffee and water. I sat down in here to flick through a magazine and have a spot of quiet time before lunch, enjoying the very comfy seats and safe in the knowledge I could phone down for some extra food if I wished.
As part of the package, you have a massage and hair treatment included within your day. The therapist who looked after me was extremely personable and friendly, and the treatment room was calm and serene.
The hour-long treatment flew past in an instant and I was SO relaxed afterwards I almost fell asleep. That’s always a sign of a good massage in my books. My hair also felt so much better as well, as it leans towards being dry and a bit lifeless, but it felt silky smooth and commercial-swishy afterwards.
The therapists will also give you a little ‘self-care prescription’, of things that you can do to improve your wellbeing and suggestions of products from their on-site shop and brand. A nice little touch to keep that zen-feeling going after you leave.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Included in the package is breakfast and lunch at the in-house Zen Garden Thai Restaurant.
Breakfast was a simple buffet affair with a mixture of cereals, small pastries, cold meats and cheese, nuts, muesli and yoghurt. Everything was super fresh and the yoghurt with New Forest berry compote was a perfect size and not too sweet.
For lunch, there is the option of two-courses, starter, main or dessert, with a third available for an additional cost. All the food is, as you can guess, Thai, with heat indicators for those who are conscious of a bit of spice.
To start with I had the Par Goong, which was compromised of three chunky prawns and a dressing of Thai herbs, chilli paste, lime and fish sauce. The prawns were absolutely delicious and the dressing was closest, flavour-wise, to what I’d tasted in Thailand. You can also opt for any of the starters to be made larger for your main which is a nice option if you’re struggling to choose.
For my main, I opted for Pla Krapong Nueng Manow – a steamed sea bass fillet with wilted pak choi and a lemon and chilli dressing, served with Jasmine Rice. The portion size looked a little small at first but it was cooked beautifully, the bass light and flaky with plenty of flavour. The pak choi was equally flavourful and cooked enough that it wasn’t tough but without losing any of its flavour or vibrant green tone. I found myself pleasantly surprised that I was full afterwards and had that wonderful ‘clean’ feeling you get when you eat something delicious – but healthy.
There was an opportunity to have wine with your meal for an extra charge, with my spa buddy opting for a glass of Garnacha rosé with her meal. The selection was good without being overwhelming and covered all bases taste and cost-wise.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Those looking for a really relaxing experience or a really special treat. A day here is a day well spent and you will come away feeling totally relaxed and re-energised. Perfect for a girls’ break, special occasion or even a chilled-out trip with your other half.
Not for: While there’s plenty to keep you occupied, if you’re a ball of energy who can’t sit still the calming and slow pace of the spa may be a bit much.
££: The Mum’s Spa Escape costs from £159 per person, and includes pretty much everything you could need in a day. I’d say the cost is about mid-range when it comes to a full spa day, but the quality of the spa and overall experience its well worth the money.
SenSpa at Careys Manor Hotel, Lyndhurst Road, Brockenhurst SO42 7RH. Tel: 01590 624467