Luxury relaxation just over the border
Barnby Moor, Retford
Katrina Burrill and Claire Weeks visited the Spa at Ye Olde Bell in Barnby Moor to see how their first year has been for the team.
The Spa at Ye Olde Bell sits within the grounds of the award-winning hotel and restaurant. It opened in June 2017 and their first year has provided the team with the knowledge to go from strength to strength. The hotel and spa are owned by the Levack family, but run as two separate businesses, with the spa being managed by daughter Sadie Levack and family friend Lizzie Bath.
Lizzie had rented a room within the hotel for a time before the idea of a spa came about. Both with different visions of what they wanted from a spa, the pair were able to combine their ideas to give their guests a truly unique experience.
Angela Tong, who manages the day-to-day running of the spa, said: “Sadie prefers to relax and unwind whilst Lizzie prefers a more interactive experience. By combining their ideas they have created a journey all our guests can enjoy.”
The experience starts from the initial welcome. The spa has a modern and relaxing reception with crushed velvet chairs and sofas, a bar made from reclaimed timber and lots of natural light. After a hot drink we were shown through to the changing rooms. Once in the spa, we were greeted and shown round the experiences.
Our first experience was the Herbal Laconium, a mild steam room that uses bursts of steam with a natural infusion of herbs. This is the first of three sauna experiences that gradually increase in temperature. Our next stop was the Stonebath. Using hot coals that create steam when they are lowered into the water, guests can use the fan to bring the heat back down. Both rooms suggest approximately 30 minutes, allowing toxins to be flushed out. Our next experience was the Snow Storm Walk, the first of its kind in the world. Selecting either snowfall, or snowstorm for the brave, the treatment helps boost the immune system. Next on the journey was the Alpine Sauna, the hottest of the three rooms using traditional Swiss pine, the temperature is about 80-95°C.
At this point Claire went for her treatment, a wellness massage which focuses on the whole body. Using your year of birth the therapist will pick the oils used in the massage based on the Chinese calendar. The 60-minute treatment relieves negativity and tension and Claire returned thoroughly relaxed.
Our next stop was the Rasul mud treatment. An added option on most of the spa packages, this room is perfect for couples and friends. Using three types of mud, guests cover themselves before taking a seat under the stars in the steam room. The treatment lasts for 30 minutes before a soothing shower washes away the mud.
As it was nearly our lunchtime, we headed back downstairs to try the hot and cold foot spas.
Lunch is served in the spa’s own restaurant, The Herb Garden Brasserie and the menu whilst small offers a perfect choice depending on your appetite, being split into three, for those looking for a light bite, something more substantial or a filling dinner. For my starter I opted for the light bite menu and the butternut squash soup whilst Claire went for the top menu choice of ham hock terrine and Scotch egg.
Both our starters were perfect. Extremely well flavoured, perfect portion size and beautifully presented on the plate – you could easily imagine you were in a top class restaurant.
Our mains followed at a leisurely pace after we had finished our starters, which is the ethos of the day. This time Claire had ordered from the lighter menu choice with the salmon fillet on a bed of mash potato whilst I’d opted for the more filling choice of duck breast served with mashed potato on a bed of red cabbage. Again both these dishes were perfectly presented and the flavours were stunning.
Desserts came next and we opted for the homemade lemon cheesecake from the middle of the three menus. Using a shortbread biscuit base the cheesecake was served with a raspberry coulis. A perfect choice for our final course.
After lunch we went to try the spa’s other added option, the Sabbia Med. This 30-minute treatment uses specialised lamps to alleviate depression and anxiety.
Afterwards we made our way back downstairs to the treatment and pool area. Next on our journey was the Shower Walk and Bucket Shower. Using a mixture of hot and cold showers to awaken the senses, guests can then use the self-activated bucket to dowse themselves in cold water.
To warm up, the next treatment is the steam bath. A traditional spa experience using warm temperatures and high humidity, the steam bath increases your metabolism and strengthens the immune system.
The final room is the salt inhalation room, a silent relaxation room. Guests can chill out on the bean bag style chairs whilst the salt wall aids respiratory problems and helps to clean the sinuses.
After all the treatment rooms we were both looking forward to dipping our toes in the indoor/outdoor heated pool. The outdoor relaxation space offers traditional alpine chalets with fire pits for year round warmth, a rattan apple and heated loungers.
My treatment was booked for the end of the day and my therapist came to collect me from reception. I had been booked in for a Rose and Honey Elixir Calming Facial with Jade. The treatment began with heated bags used to relax the body before the facial began. As part of the treatment I was offered a scalp or hand and arm massage – I opted for the scalp massage. Truly relaxed, I must admit I may have dozed off.
After the treatment Jade showed me through to the relaxation and dark room where I was able to spend some time waking myself up.
For a relatively new spa, the management have worked extremely hard to offer guests a wonderful experience. Angela told me: “Before we opened we wanted to make sure we had the right team in place and for us this meant we had to find the staff with the right personalities to suit the business. Sadie and Lizzie wanted to offer our customers a full spa experience that takes them on a journey and we feel we have really managed that.”
Whether you are looking for a half day or evening, full day or overnight spa break there is something to suit. I am already looking forward to my next visit.
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