Spa Review: Aqua Sana Spa at Centerparcs Longleat, Wiltshire
This is our review of our spa experience at Aqua Sana Spa when we visited in May 2016 on a Centerparcs weekend away with the family.
At the end of our stay at Centerparcs Longleat we booked in for a 3 hour session at the Aqua Sana Spa at the holiday park. We had decided that a spa day would be an ideal way to round of the holiday and leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.
Arrival at Aqua Sana Spa
We checked out of our lodge in the morning and drove to the other side of the park where the Aqua Sana Spa is situated. Parked up and grabbed a late breakfast and coffee before heading in.
The entrance to the spa is a wide open foyer, on the one side is a boutique holding a great range of spa and skincare products for sale. On the other side is the manicure treatment area. In the centre is the reception desk where you can check into the spa.
Once checked in we were directed to the centre entrance area to pick up a towel, robe and locker key before we separated to our respective changing rooms.
I was initially impressed by the changing rooms area. It was clean, spacious and the walls covered with ample supply of lockers. The locker’s work on a digital system where you press and hold the plastic bracelet against your chosen locker to sync and lock. I liked how user-friendly and hygienic this system was.
In the centre of the changing rooms is a set of well-lit mirrors, seats and hair dryers. Beyond those are a set of showers, unfortunately I didn’t get to use those, but more on that later!
To the one side in the changing rooms is a private changing room cubicle which I thought was thoughtful and handy for those of us that aren’t keen on changing fully in front of others.
Once through the doors you come out into the restaurant area. It’s a large, almost cavernous space, with a good number of tables as well as a few sofas around the edges. The restaurant serves a range of drinks, hot and cold, along with a limited selection of food including salads and sandwiches.
There are two ‘wings’ to the spa. On the left is the treatment space for those booked in for massages, facials, etc. And on the right is the entrance to the main spa.
Inside The Spa
Decked out in our robes and with towels in hand we sauntered over to the spa. Inside is large map detailing the steam and sauna rooms. For a newbie it was almost overwhelming. So we took a quick walk around the area before picking our first steam room.
We chose the Turkish Hamman steam room first. Infused with herbs and scents reminiscent of the country, the room was a relaxing yet invigorating way to start the spa experience. After 5 minutes or so we left the room and tried out one of the ‘experience showers’. I’m not sure if they were working as they meant to that day but it did just feel like a normal shower with an option to turn a side spray on.
Nevertheless we made our way round most of the steam rooms. I believe there are 8 in total, each of them with a different theme with decor and scents to match. They included Japanese, Balinese, Greek, Turkish, Indian…. Our favourite was probably the Japanese steam room with its reclining seats and relaxing scents.
In the centre of the spa is an outdoor hot tub pool. The steps are indoors and once immersed in the warm water you glide through the plastic curtain and out into the open. The walls are glass over which hanging plants droop. Above is open sky and peeking through the backdrop of the giant redwood trees of Centreparcs. Every few minutes or so that edges of the pool erupt with jacuzzi bubbles and once perched on the benches you can relax for ten minutes in the bubbly warmth.
Back inside, there are a number of reclining chairs for you to relax on. I noticed a log fire in one corner, I bet that’s wonderful to snuggle by in the winter! But if they’re not relaxing enough there are two meditation rooms. One is dark with a lava lamp style light feature in the centre and cushionsed seats around the outside. The other is brightly light with hard stone heated recliners and two televisions displaying close ups of flowers as the music played. We opted for the latter, the warmth of the stone recliners, even though they look uninviting, is incredibly relaxing.
If you want to take your relaxation to snooze level then it’s worth trying out the waterbeds in the relaxation room. Complete with blankets and pillows, the beds are bigger than a single, so as a couple it’s quite nice to snuggle up on one and doze off for 10 minutes.
Other features include the water stations which is an absolute must to stay hydrated throughout all the steam rooms. Plus a small reflexology jacuzzi in the centre of the room is quite nice for some gentle chatter without any heat.
For those that prefer their heat on the dry side there are a couple of sauna options. We liked the outdoor Finnish sauna in full wooden splendour.
And to finish up the experience we found the Japanese zen garden to be surprisingly… well, zen. We loved sitting outside for some fresh air and allowing our minds to wander into a daydream.
The Spa Broke Down!
Unfortunately 2 hours into our 3 hour session the water was cut off. For the entire park. Something that is somewhat inconvenient for a spa. The showers stopped working, the steam rooms were no longer able to produce steam. And the toilets could no longer flush. Lovely.
The staff weren’t exactly sure how long it would last or what exactly was happening. We received apologies but were told to wait it out a bit. It was a tad disappointing as we were obviously a little sweaty from the spa and had a long drive home ahead of us. Plus, spa time…
We asked for fresh robes and sat in the restaurant area half expecting refreshments to be provided as we were without water. But none materialised. So we bought ourselves a small platter of Greek nibbles and a drink each.
Sadly the food wasn’t that great. The ciabatta served was actually olive bread, an incredibly strong flavour and apparently the only bread they had on site which I found surprising and disappointing. Although worth noting that all the food we ate during our time at Centerparcs was poor so it might be a central thing to Centerparcs, not just Aqua Sana.
Nevertheless it was our holiday and spa treat so we still wanted to remain in good spirits and not end it on a downer.
We sat chatting for about an hour, periodically asking staff if the water was back on yet. If anything now, we need to shower and get home.
Eventually we realised that nothing was going to happen so we gave up and went back to the changing rooms to change.
Going from bad to worse, we were not allowed to use the toilets as the water was off. I was desperate for a wee. At reception the staff apologised but said there was nothing they could do. They informed me that portaloos were being delivered to the nearby Centreparcs cafe area but they weren’t there yet. Eventually I convinced them to let me use the one toilet they had open for emergencies, back in the spa, where they were flushing wee down with water from the pool.
Meanwhile we saw more customers come to check into the spa only to be told it was not open. I felt awful for some of these people. One couple arrived and it was a surprise anniversary present for her husband. They’d been stuck in traffic for 2 hours. I was so gutted for them. But I also didn’t understand why the spa didn’t start making phone calls to people booked in for the evening spa sessions if they knew the water was off.
We left the spa and made our way home. We did still feel fairly relaxed having had two-thirds of our spa time, and for the most part really enjoyed the spa.
I would recommend Aqua Sana Spa in terms of the facilities on offer and I think there is good value for money there. We didn’t try the treatments as they were a tad out of budget for us at the time so we can’t comment on those.
But like I said, the steam rooms are wide in number and varied in style. There is plenty to do in three hours there and we did feel thoroughly relaxed for the time we did spend there.
The customer service, however, was disappointing. The water cut was not their fault and I totally get those unfortunate things happen beyond their control. That’s fine. But I would expect good customer service staff to react in a professional way offering to alleviate the stress of a situation like this. The customers should have been offered a complimentary drink and perhaps some food as a way of apology for the disruption. That was the least they could do, when really a refund should have been offered to all affected. I think that was poor management decision to not to do that.
Would I go again? Probably. Like I said, it is good value in terms of spa facilities and perhaps if they improved customer service and their food offerings I think this could potentially be a top recommendation.
Aqua Sana Spa’s are based at Centerparcs locations around the UK including Longleat, Sherwood Forest, Woburn, Whinfell, and Elveden. Some locations also offer residential spa breaks.