SenSpa at Careys Manor, New Forest: Lava shell massage

Tamsin Wressell soothes aching muscles with a lava shell massage Thursday, 28 January 2016

By Tamsin Wressell

“Your muscles are going to hurt tomorrow,” my therapist, Lord, chuckles.

It's not exactly what I was expecting to hear after 60 minutes of bliss during a lava shell massage. Using self-heating natural tiger clams from the south pacific, Lord has spent the past hour working out my knots in a full body massage. After the aromatherapy oils are rubbed into my skin, the shells are used to enhance the massage, with the heat spreading deep into muscles to relieve tension, aches and pains.

On choosing my treatment, the benefits sounded ideal. Soothes aches and pain? Great, my shoulder's been causing me grief for months. Improves blood circulation? Perfect, I seem to have permanently cold hands and feet. Rebalances the body's energy system? Sounds ideal for winter.

Slipping off the massage table, I head to the relaxation room to sample the post-treatment refreshments — and to await the arrival of the pain I've been told to expect. As it stands, however, all I feel is relaxed and free of any niggling knots.

I've spent the day at SenSpa, part of Careys Manor Hotel in the New Forest, drifting between the many spa facilities on offer. Lounging in the sizeable hydrotherapy pool has been broken up with frequent trips to the crystal steam room, laconicum, tepidarium, ice room and experience showers — my favourite being the invigorating ice storm, complete with thunder and lightning effects. Not usually a lover of saunas, I've also even occasionally popped into the herbal sauna, which is less intense than regular ones. My day of relaxing has been broken up only by a two-course Thai lunch at the spa's Zen Garden Restaurant and a mind and body class, which infuses yoga with tai chi.

Feeling close to nodding off, I peel myself off the reclined lounger to head to Le Blaireau, the hotel's French brasserie, where I tuck into three courses of delicious food in a restaurant that really wouldn't feel out of place on a Parisian street.

The following morning, I intend to spend every possible minute in the spa before making the quick walk to the nearby train station. A slow service at breakfast eats in to my time a little, but I still manage to squeeze in a few lengths of the pool and more dashes to the hydrotherapy pool.

As promised, my muscles are a little sore and slightly stiff as I leave the hotel, but the last quick trip to the spa seems to have done wonders for my skin, which now feels fresh and super soft. I'm putting this down to hot- and cold-water therapy, with the warm water of the hydrotherapy pool soothing and relaxing, and the cold of the experience showers invigorating and toning. SenSpa's ethos focuses on the powers of water to heal and revitalise — and, leaving rejuvenated, it seems like they may have just cracked it.

Follow @TamsinWressell

Follow @NGT_Collection

Read More