Last weekend we treated ourselves to a spa day at Aqua Sana Spa at the Centerparcs in Sherwood Forest. It was to celebrate Raj’s birthday and as we are such fans of going to spas this seemed like the ideal outing.
We had such a lovely time that I thought I should share my spa review with you today. You see, this particular Aqua Sana Spa has been on my must-visit soon list for a couple of years ever since they did their refurbishment. I was keen to see what the zoned experience rooms were going to be like, plus a treetop sauna sounded ace.
From Birmingham it took us about an hour and a half on a Sunday morning to drive up to Centerparcs Sherwood Forest. It was a fairly easy journey and being a Sunday there were no queues to get into the park.
The Aqua Sana spa is located not far from the arrivals lodge and once parked up we made our way to their friendly reception desk.
First impressions really do count and the first 3 members of staff I met were super friendly. The reception staff checked us in, I appreciated not only that they gave us directions and a quick rundown of the spa day we’d booked, but they also asked us to keep our voices down, or use our ‘spa voice’ as I like to call it.
We tend to enjoy a spa experience that is super relaxing and recharging, and probably one of my biggest gripes is groups of people chatting really loudly in the spa, particularly in the quiet relaxation rooms.
Once changed into our swimwear and robes we were met at the Vitale cafe by the spa host. We were sat down and treated to breakfast, a hot drink, and a glass of bubbly (and an orange juice for Raj).
Meanwhile the super-friendly spa host, Rita, talked us through the spa day and signed us up for the meditation/sleep therapy for the afternoon. She made us feel really welcome and it felt like such a personal way to start the experience.
For breakfast I chose the chocolate and hazelnut croissant and Raj chose the fruit and yoghurt granola. It was delicious and such a lovely way to start the day. We hadn’t actually realised we had breakfast included so it turned out to be a nice surprise.
Feeling sufficiently fed and watered we began our spa experience.
Before even entering the spa there was a small table to the side with cleanser, toner, cotton wool pads and a mirror for guests to remove any make-up, grime, or simply freshen up before the spa rooms. I appreciate the little details like this in a spa, it’s helpful and thoughtful and makes you feel like they care about your experience.
Inside the spa we checked out the huge map on the wall to see how the experience rooms were structured. Each room is helpfully numbered to give you an idea on how best to experience them – usually this means going through a combination of hot and cold to get the optimum bodily reaction. Although, because you sometimes get groups of people arrive at the same time, it might be worth going off piste a little and trying a different order. I think it’s flexible like that.
The spa is arranged over two floors circling the pool in the middle. The decor looks new and fresh. I felt like overall the standard of cleanliness was great whilst I was there.
We started with the foot spa room called Sole Therapy. We had to wait a few minutes for some foot basins to become free, but this didn’t take too long as they are rather snazzy technological numbers that work on a timer. Cleaning your feet is not only an ideal way to start a spa experience, it’s also good for hygiene practices.
We followed the spa route mostly as directed by the numbered map at the entrance. We started with the Alpine Steam Room which featured a large crystal amethyst at the centre and released a lovely fragrance into the steam. This might actually have been one of our favourites of all the steam rooms, I really liked that scent.
After the first steam room we braved the Rainforest Showers followed by the Ice Cave. Next we opted for a quick swim in the pool, before heading straight up to the Treetop Sauna.
The Treetop Sauna is quite a large sauna. The capacity must be at least 20 (don’t quote me on that, I’m just guessing) with long large benches looking out over the floor to ceiling windows. There we looked out at the treetops and in the corner of the vista we could see a running stream.
We were the only ones in there at the time and it was a good spot to sit quietly and wind down from everyday life. I found the heat of this sauna quite mild so probably a good entry sauna if you’re not used to the heat. Either that or it hadn’t warmed up for the day yet, I’m not sure.
Next we found some space in the outdoor hot tubs called Hot Spring Gardens for a 15 minutes soak. It had started to rain, but there was something quite lovely about the outside being cold and rainy whilst you are bubbling away in the warmth of a hot tub.
Over the course of the following couple of hours we worked our way through steam rooms, saunas, and experience showers. We had a lovely rest of the heated stone beds called Sweet Slumber, had a little cuddle under a fluffy blanket in the Scandinavian snug, and before we knew it it was time for lunch.
Lunch was included in our day spa package. We had the option to pick any of the mains which included pasta, panini, flatbreads, and a few specials. Plus a small side salad was available from a choice of about 4 or 5. I was impressed by the selection, a nice range of healthy options as well something a bit more hearty.
I was in the mood for comfort so I picked the Mediterranean chicken panini with the broccoli and cauliflower side salad. Raj chose the mushroom gnocchi with the Asian side salad.
The cafe itself was busy but it never felt too hectic. The large windows along one side along with a glass conservatory-style ceiling helped make the place feel light and open.
Again, every member of staff we met was super-friendly. I can’t tell you just how much that makes an experience. I appreciated it so much.
The food itself was tasty. My panini was actually a griddle flatbread but that didn’t bother me. The filling was generous and it was served nice and hot, perfect for the heavy downpour of rain lashing against the windows all around us. Raj polished off his gnocchi but wasn’t as much of a fan of his salad. My broccoli and cauliflower, however were delicious.
AN AFTERNOON RELAXING
After lunch we made our way up to the sleep room to take part in the meditation with the spa host Rita. It’s a dark room that throughout the day plays calming music with a projector showing gentle nature scenes. The room is oval-shaped with a long continuous deep padded seat/lounger, with various separated cushions throughout.
Rita placed some aromatherapy balm in each of our hands, encourage us to inhale the fragrance before warming between our hands and massaging into our own faces. We were encouraged to lie back, close our eyes and follow our voice through the mediation as you turned off the lights.
She reassured us that many people fall asleep during this mediation, which I’m glad she pointed out at the start as both people on either side of me started snoring! Well, ok, maybe more like heavy sleep breathing. I guess the relaxation was working!
After the mediation we spent a couple of hours in wind-down mode. We started off with a short snooze on the waterbeds. Unfortunately a couple of other guests were chatting, and being a tad disturbing. So we moved onto the upstairs tree top terrace to enjoy the fresh air and read our books. Again, a few guests there were chatting away so it wasn’t quite as restful as we liked. I moved again to the fireside relaxation room were a few other people were sleeping. Perfect. I read my book for a bit before falling asleep for bit. After a little while more guests appeared and started chatting and woke me up.
Seriously, this is probably my only gripe and not the spa’s fault at all. If you’re at a spa in a quiet relaxation room, do not talk. If you can see other guests around you sleeping, do not talk. A lot of people use a spa experience for total relaxation and often that leads to napping, I do wish there was a bit more courtesy or spa etiquette awareness.
Anyhow, once I was woken from my nap I spent some time writing in my notebook. I often find spa experiences are great for my creativity and inspiration.
As we were nearing the end of our day at the Aqua Sana spa we took one last swim in the pool and one last heat moment in a sauna and steam room before heading back to the changing rooms.
SPA CHANGING ROOMS
The changing rooms are clean and modern. The walls are lined with plenty of lockers, although these were a little on the small side for my liking. I did appreciate that the lockers are operated with an electronic wristband for ease of use.
I think the changing rooms were probably the only part of the spa I wasn’t so keen on. There weren’t quite enough benches to change on, just 6 for the entire women’s changing room.There were only 3 toilets and I think it was 5 or 6 showers. So there was sometimes a little queue for either.
The showers themselves had glass doors and didn’t really offer much in the way of privacy. I know we all have different levels of privacy tendencies, but I ended up showering with my swimwear still on as I was a bit self-conscious. Also, there were no shelves in the showers to put my washable on, again just a little detail that I’d appreciate.
OVERALL THOUGHTS ON AQUA SANA SHERWOOD FOREST
I enjoyed our day spa package at the Aqua Sana spa in Sherwood Forest. I left feel both physically and mentally relaxed. My skin felt great from the heat experiences, and having a total switch off from the outside world was a treat.
I liked the idea of the themes/zones to the experiences. It was something a little different and adding an interesting way of thinking about the rooms.
Highlights for me include the alpine steam room, scandanvian snug, hot stone beds, meditation experience, and the fact that there were so many seating opportunities throughout.
Oh, I forgot to mention the lime ice flannels, those were ace!
Again, the staff were super friendly and that made the experience. I didn’t get to try a treatment this time around so can’t speak on those but the rest of the spa was fab.
The Aqua Sana spa in Sherwood Forest has enough experience rooms to keep you interested for a few hours. Plus, plenty of spaces to relax, unwind, read, meditate, or simply enjoy the trees surrounding you.
Aqua Sana Sherwood Forest information
We went on the Simple Spa Day package which costs £95 per person Monday to Thursday or £105 per person Friday to Sunday.
It includes access to the spa from 9am to 6pm. You get breakfast on arrival, a glass of bubbly, lunch in the cafe, spa discovery sessions, towel and robe hire, and 10% off retail in their shop.
The Forest spa includes six zones – Nordic Forest, Hot Springs, Volcanic Forest, Treetop Escape, Treetop Nesting, and Forest Immersion.
Aqua Sana Spa, Center Parcs Sherwood Forest, Old Rufford Rd, Newark NG22 9DN