The Academy, Harrogate – Spa Review
We’ve put numerous spas through their pampering paces over the years, but, with the modern Spa menu looking more like a serious four page puzzle than a recipe for relaxation (eyebrow threading, reflexology, stone therapy, Swedish massage) the experience can be a daunting one for a first-timer? We challenged Julia Paddon – a bit of a Spa sceptic – who claims that she can do just as well at home with a body brush and a good moisturiser, to go for her first ever treatment at The Academy, Harrogate…
Well, there I was, parked in Academy Spa’s car park and just about to go for my first Spa experience. I had no idea what treatment to book but, after a really helpful phone consultation with one of the Academy therapists, I opted for the Well-Being Massage. The treatment is a full head-to-toe experience and an excellent way to introduce your body to massage. It’s less intense than a Swedish or Thai massage with the focus much more on relaxing the whole body and creating feelings of harmony and well being. At £49.50 you get a full body, face and head massage which takes about 70 minutes. I was apprehensive and somewhat sceptical but looking forward to it.
An initial wrong turn led me to the mezzanine level of the gym. Relieved that I wasn’t there to review the treadmill I continued up the stairs to the Spa. It’s a lovely space – tranquil music is played and the air is filled with essential oils. The receptionist directed me to the relaxation room and I completed a quick form. There were two ladies relaxing with a cup of tea, their toes separated by tissues, allowing their nail polish to dry. They’d obviously had a great time and I could feel my apprehension diminish.
“Contours of the body”
My therapist collected me from the relaxation room and led me to a treatment room. Elizabeth, who’s been working at The Academy for three months, explained very clearly about the ESPA blended essential oils and we discussed my skin type and how I wanted to feel. I got to smell two blends for the face and two for the body and picked my favourites. It was a sunny day outside, so I chose the invigorating Fitness Body Oil and Replenishing Face Oil and for the head massage there was the unparalleled Pink Hair and Scalp Mud. I received clear instructions about what to do next; undress, put on paper thong, lie on the bed on my back and cover myself with the towel.
Whoever invented hot towelling mitts should be given an award! These are used to warm the feet and calves and are instantly relaxing. This is followed by a swift once-over with the body brush to remove dry skin cells. So far, so good! The Wellbeing Body Massage treats the whole side of the body rather than each part in isolation which, I’m led to believe, is more traditional. Long sweeping movements follow the contours of the body and elongate the muscles and I can genuinely feel myself totally relax. I’m beginning to see why, for some people, this becomes a necessity rather than a luxury.
Elizabeth is assured, professional and clearly passionate about her job. She works with great precision, paying special attention to the neck and shoulders which I identified as areas that often feel tense. Computers have a lot to answer for!
I may have started out a little sceptical but this treatment actually offers real value for money. My face, scalp and hair are treated last. When the massage finishes I’m given a glass of water with lemon and some time to recuperate. I then choose to go back to the relaxation room where you can help yourself to hot or cold drinks and delay going home for as long as you wish.
I continued to feel the benefit of my treatment for days afterwards. That evening I had a great night’s sleep, my hair felt nourished by the Pink Hair and Scalp Mud, my skin still feels fabulous five days later and my neck and shoulders are much looser. Oh dear, I could get used to this!
Other Treatments Available:
Academy Spa has a brilliant range of treatments. these include mum-to-be packages and monthly special offers.
You can always do as I did and ring them for advice if you’re having trouble deciding. I’m very impressed by the high quality ESPA products that they use. I treated myself to the Pink Hair and Scalp Mud. They sell the full range of ESPA products allowing you to benefit from these at home.
The Academy, Oakdale Place, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 2LA.
T: 01423 524052
Editor’s update: The Academy Spa was bought by David Lloyd Leisure in Spring 2017