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By Laura Kingston

We all know that visiting a spa or beauty salon is one of the ultimate self-care rituals. The relaxing environment, fluffy white robes, pampering treatments and hours spent in the pool leave us feeling revitalised, refreshed and uplifted as well as erm, groomed which I have to admit hasn’t been up to usual pre-lockdown standards of late. 

When we heard that our region’s spas and salons were opening up again post-lockdown we couldn’t wait to book in, so we spent a day at Ramside Hall, booked a mani/pedi at Beauty at Gosforth Park and a bikini wax at The Wax Bar in Jesmond to find out how things have changed. 

Arrival 

Like most places in our ‘new normal’ world, one thing all three establishments were incredibly efficient on is checking in and temperature checking. At Ramside Hall, this is in place across the hotel, golf club, restaurants and spa which is really reassuring, with a really simple check-in form, temperature check and hand sanitisation on arrival. At The Wax Bar and Beauty at Gosforth Park it was similar and for me, the temperature checking really puts my mind at ease that everyone visiting is healthy so there was little risk to either me, other visitors or the staff. Speaking to the therapists, this really makes them feel at ease too which comes across. 

The reception staff were all really welcoming and actually because we are all so used to wearing masks now, it didn’t take anything away from the friendliness. 

At Ramside Hall we were escorted everywhere which worked really well. As guests, we didn’t have to worry about bumping into anyone or being in the changing room alongside anyone else for example. The therapists took care of all of this behind the scenes so that we could just relax and enjoy the day. 

Treatments

Ramside Hall

I opted for a full body massage and this was the part I was expecting to be significantly different. Would it still be relaxing? How would we manage to maintain social distancing? But it’s safe to say that with some well thought through changes and the usual hand washing and sanitisation on both parts, the experience didn’t feel much different at all. 

Rather than rubbing oils directly onto our skin to decide what scent to opt for, this is now on a small cotton pad. Other than that, as soon as I was on the bed and the massage started, it was the usual dreamy spa experience that I know and love. 

The Wax Bar

Again, I felt completely safe thanks to all of the measures in place here. It’s a much smaller space but the one-way system helped everyone to socially distance. Inside the treatment rooms, everything is now disposable including the towels. My therapist Bethany was wearing a mask and visor the whole time, but we were still able to chat and the experience felt normal. 

Beauty at Gosforth Park 

Like most nail bars, there are now screens in between customers and nail technicians which is fine and apart from a bit of knocking them as we got used to it, it worked fine. The file and buffing block is now single use so you get to take them away with you after the treatment. 

Using the pool

One of the benefits that I’m actually enjoying post-lockdown is having more space to enjoy things. I took my mum along to the spa with me and we booked out a couple of hours in the Infinity Pool which was just bliss and lovely that we didn’t actually have to share it with anyone else! 

This heated pool looks out over the treehouses and golf course and is the perfect place to relax and unwind, especially on a sunny day which we were lucky enough to have. 

The other great thing about the Infinity Pool is that refreshments are from Fusion – the hotel’s Asian restaurant. We opted for a platter each which included chicken satay, honey ribs, spring rolls and chicken parcels. 

I’ve actually eaten at Fusion a lot and the food is consistently fresh and delicious.

Maintaining a luxury feel…

At Ramside Spa, this is obviously really key. Unlike my salon experiences which were just treatment based, it’s really important that spas manage to maintain their luxurious experience. I spoke to Spa Director Joanne Green on the steps they’ve taken to achieve this. 

She said: “It was really important to us that we kept the experience as normal as possible for people. Because this is the world’s ‘new normal’ staff and visitors are used to taking precautions now so we are able to have signage and hand sanitisation stations well placed throughout the spa but without being too much in everyone’s faces.

“Being so thorough with guests also helps visitors and staff to feel safe. We ask everyone to fill out a health questionnaire on reservation now which is followed up just a day or two before to ensure everyone that visits is feeling healthy and well. The temperature checks then help to confirm this on arrival.

“We’ve been really pleased with how our spa guests and members have responded to our re-opening and can’t wait to welcome everyone back.”

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