ESPA Muscle Release Massage at Verulamium Spa, St Albans

Double up a gym visit with a spa treatment to create a holistic leisure experience. Friday, 12 July 2013

By Maria Pieri

Double up a gym visit with a spa treatment to create a holistic leisure experience.

If you've never been to the Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre then you'd probably wonder what the Verulamium Spa is doing there. Technically it's a public leisure centre, but it's a whole different breed of leisure centre, having just had a £24.7m makeover.

Operated by Everyone Active, this flagship property is taking a holistic approach to health and fitness by offering sport, leisure and spa facilities all in one. Hence the Verulamium Spa, which has a starring role in this new approach. This means you can visit the spa and also access the leisure centre facilities, including a spacious 180-station gym, cardio machines including Trixter bikes, Watt bikes and Power Plate machines, plus a 10-lane, 25m pool and a fitness studio, where spa guests can book a class. There's even a climbing wall, studios, a kid's pool and creche too.

On arrival I went downstairs and checked out the tepidarium (warm room), laconium (hot room), hydrospa pool and sauna. So I was pretty relaxed when it was time to head to the treatment room.

I tried the ESPA Muscle Release Massage, priced at £85 for 80 minutes of arm- and leg-pulling relaxation using aromatherapy oils to ease aching muscles and calm the mind.

My usual problem back and shoulder areas were the main focus and the pressure exerted was good, even, and slightly painful – in a good way. I even asked if there was some Balinese or Thai massage influence to the treatment (due to the limb-pulling), but apparently there wasn't. Meanwhile, I was really taken with the aromatic lavender smell from my chosen massage oil.

To ensure it maintains the exclusivity of being in a spa, slippers, robes and towels are provided – and disposable underwear on request too. Unusually, there was ample natural light in the therapy room, as well as in the indoor and outdoor relaxation areas, housed upstairs.

The details: The Verulamium Spa has teamed up with nearby St Michael's Manor Hotel, a 30 room property set in five acres of beautiful country gardens, to offer spa weekend packages. Priced from £249, the package includes a twin or double room; dinner and breakfast for two at the hotel; use of facilities at the Verulamium Spa; gym, classes and swimming pool at the adjoining Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre; and one shoulder, neck and back massage per person.

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