I remember it ‘just like it was yesterday’. I had been to a quite a few massage parlors and was a frequent mall massage receiver by the time I found an offer on UK Groupon for a couple’s (they didn’t specify genders) spa day at only £12 pounds. My birthday was coming up (March 20) and I wanted to have a spa day with my friends so I bought 5 of the tickets (birthday giveaway, I guess). I invited 6 friends on the 19th day of March, 2013, using only 3 of the tickets.
I should mention that the spa is in Sheffield but I felt I should write about the first spa day I really had that wasn’t at home. I was still a student at the University of Sheffield at this time, hence the location. It was within the Mecure St. Paul’s hotel, located in the City center area, next to Wicker herbal shop, one of my most frequented shops at the time, and the Sheffield winter garden.
I had called a few weeks in advance to make reservations for the spa day and treatments we wanted to have. When we arrived, we had a chat with customer service and were given a mini tour after which we were left off at the locker room. After changing into our swim suits, we took mini showers in the locker room showers before proceeding to the pool area with our towels. (I should add here that the lockers were the refundable pound operated ones).
The indoor pool was standard size, with adequate lighting and potted plants in the corner. The air was clean but had a slight chlorine smell. There were quite a few pool lounges and the pool was not crowded so we each got one, even though we hardly used them until we got tired of swimming (Sayo, Ubong, Oyinkan) and splashing about (me, Ebun, Marilyn).
After lounging for a bit, we went to the rock sauna, where we ended up chatting to other spa visitors before going into the blue-lit lemon and mint scented aromatherapy and steam room. I found the steam room to be more relaxing than the sauna as it felt like dry heat and I got a bit dehydrated being in there. There was an ice igloo also but in the cold Sheffield weather, I thought it would be a bad idea for early spring so I did not spend much time here.
I went on to the experience (hydrotherapy) shower room, in which I had pulsing streams of water from the ceiling and walls come at me with some pressure (I could control the pressure and direction of the faucets). I had fun changing the temperature until I settled at a slightly cool temperature, enjoying the water massage therapy. I put on the robe handed to me in the beginning and left the pool area because it was almost time for my scheduled massage. Three of us decided to have extra treatments done (at extra cost – £40 for the deep tissue massage at the time, I think) while the others stayed back in the pool area.
We were led to the relaxation suite while the therapists were getting our room ready (we asked to get the same room for our massages). At this point, let me apologize for having no photos, I lost my iPod and all the photos from that day were still on it till November last year before I ever dreamed of writing this post. This relaxation room was dimly lit with strategically placed lava lamps. There were also relaxing colour morphing neon bubble movements in the wall screens (what are these called?) and an aquarium. The background was filled with soft relaxing music which when combined with the visuals and my previous hydrotherapy and aromatherapy, I was almost falling asleep.
We were led to the massage room and were left alone to get ourselves in position. The room was dimly lit with lightly scented candles and shaded LED lighting. There was also calming rain, then lake and flute music in the background. My head and mind were just so clear and silent as I undressed and lay on the massage table/bed. I chose the relaxing deep tissue neck and back massage (same as Marilyn, I think). The masseuse started with soft strokes and proceeded gradually to higher pressure to reach the deeper layers, using some massage oil (I didn’t ask the name, sorry). She was very attentive to my body language (and moans lol) throughout. I remained on the verge of sleep the whole time. After the deeply relaxing massage, the ladies left us to relax for a bit before we got up. I felt so loose and filled with energy.
We went back to the relaxation suite, where we found Sayo (she got the Indian head massage) practically dozing off with a glass of juice beside her. We went to the adjoining room and got ourselves some herbal tea (self service) and returned to the suite. I had a few minutes of meditation, using an app on my iPod, while sat in that cosy, reclining, sofa chair. I was there (in dream state), until my other friends came to check up on us from the pool side. We decided to leave after some time of gisting there as it was starting to get dark (around 5:30 pm or so).
I walked back home with my head in the clouds, enjoying the winds of Sheffield, with a whole new appreciation for life and friends. I had worked hard throughout the semester at uni and at my job (I was in third year and was working as a student research manager for the Times Higher Education) and was totally stressed out earlier. I started my birthday the next day, feeling content, relaxed and ready to party. The celebration ended with salsa night at a bar, Las Iguanas, on West street.
Spa Naturel offers a range of spa therapies like facials, mani/pedis, massages, etc, which are given individually or as part of the many packages available for brides, pregnant women, men, and couples. Other facilities include 8 treatment rooms, thermal suite, gym, with fitness studios for yoga or aerobic classes. You can visit them at 119 Norfolk Street, Sheffield, if you ever find yourself in the area and in need of some TLC.
I went back there a few weeks later with three friends, two from before and one newbie, Faith to use up the remaining tickets. I got a pedicure and another massage, this time around. I also got to use the gym and stayed a bit longer in the ice igloo as it was summer by that time. We had a late lunch/dinner at the open plan restaurant, before leaving. It felt really nice treating my friends to these experiences because we had fun and bonded with one another.
So people, this is me documenting some wellness practices I have come to hold dear, so look out for more wellness posts like this one.