Spa Trek

Award-winning spa author Sarah Woods journeys the scenic western shoreline to discover marine-inspired therapies at one of the finest spas in Wales.

Few propositions are as seductive as a weekend of decadent R&R and leisurely pampering in a stunning location on the Pembrokeshire coast.

With stooped shoulders, furrowed brow, tired limbs and a frazzled brain, I bear all the hallmarks of a stressed-out urbanite. A clenched jaw and knotted muscles seriously needed kneading.

St Brides Spa Hotel sitting atop a cliff above St Brides harbour, Pembrokeshire

St Brides Spa Hotel, Pembrokeshire by St Brides Spa Hotel
Set on a rugged headland, St Brides Spa Hotel perches high above Saundersfoot Harbour in Pembrokeshire’s spectacular National Park. St Brides’ owners, Andrew and Lindsey Evans, have worked hard to create a luxurious and credible destination spa. Products are ethically sourced and marine-inspired treatments echo its seashore locale.

Spa prize

St Brides has a cabinet full of trophies and accolades (it was voted “Best Hotel in Wales” 2011-2012) and is the darling of numerous travel magazines - but more than lives up to the hype. Standards are impeccable. And a stylish decor is almost as breathtaking as the famous views across the curves of Carmarthen Bay.

The caffi at the St Brides Spa Hotel, Pembrokeshire

Caffi at the St Brides Hotel, Pembrokeshire by St Brides Spa Hotel
I, like legions of spa-goers, emit an involuntary gasp of breath at the seascape. It is magical, with bobbing fishing boats and sun-dappled open waters beyond.

Every aspect of this memorable panorama has been captured by St Brides’ ultra-contemporary design. Using solus por aqua (meaning “healing by water”  from which the spa acronym derived), its therapy menu centres on the healing powers of the sea. Treatments range from deep exfoliating body scrubs using nourishing seaweed oils to anti-oxidant marine algae facials and rehydrating sea-salt cleansing rituals. I am no longer grinding my teeth.

Heat-treated for maximum comfort

The wet relaxation lounge at the St Brides Spa Hotel, Pembrokeshire

Relaxation lounge at the St Brides Hotel, Pembrokeshire by St Brides Spa Hotel
Moist heat in a salt infusion room helps skin to glow. Cascading showers heated to a trio of differing temperatures enliven the pores. Aromatic slow heat purifies the body, while an invigorating dry heat gives the immune system a boost. Therapies with men in mind include massages and facials. Common sports injuries can be soothed, such as muscle strains from golf and tennis elbow.

Mud, marvelous mud…

For the ultimate seaside splurge, book the 55-minute Ocean Renewal package. This indulgent hot sea mud therapy enriched with warm seawater naturally stimulates blood flow and lymphatic circulation to banish toxins. I feel a deep sense of relaxation as the hot gloop penetrates my skin to relieve aching, tense limbs. Once all the mud is slathered, the therapist applies intense, firm pressure to set nerve endings a-tingle. It feels good, in an age of chemical-based medicine and pollution, to return to nature with a bucket of decaying coastal goo.

Next a dip in St Brides’ steaming whirls of therapeutic bubbles and marine salts – and never has a half-hour in a saltwater hydro pool felt so good.

Heated to body temperature (at around 35◦C), I can sense all my cares drifting away as I gaze out to the horizon in a blissed-out state.

Woman enjoying the whirlpool bubbles in the Vitality Pool, St Brides Hotel

Vitality pool, St Brides Hotel, Pembrokeshire by St Brides Spa Hotel
Thankfully, St Brides cares little for the boot-camp ethos of health by deprivation. Good food and wellbeing combined is a deep-rooted theme. Meals are superb in the Cliff Restaurant where freshly hauled fish is prepared in a fusion of cooking styles that flick every sensory switch.

Individually styled bedrooms are light, airy and decorated in a coastal theme. If you can afford the extra, splash out on a sea view and balcony. Guests at St Brides run from robe-clad spa connoisseurs and honeymooners to family groups enjoying a chance to retreat together and unwind.

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