Monday, 25 February 2013

How taking my sister on a BuyaGift spa day quelled an argument that's been going on for fifteen years

I don't do relaxing. The closest I get to complete chill-out time is a couple of episodes of the OC back-to-back, perhaps with a glass of wine thrown in for good measure. My idea of a holiday nightmare consists of lying aimlessly on a beach - something that my friend Sophie can very much attest to. A few years ago, we spent three weeks backpacking around Europe and by the time we got to Croatia, she was in need of some serious sunbathing time. However, I decided to wake her up every morning at 6am to go exploring, which she wasn't too keen on - especially when I almost got stuck on the Bosnian border during one such day trip with only my University library card, not my passport, for company.

However, I know someone that can think of nothing they'd like to do more than spend a few hours in a complete chilled-out haze. My sister, Kate, has been deprived of sleep since my nephew, Will,  arrived on the scene eleven months ago. Despite being the best and cleverest baby in the whole entire world, he doesn't quite understand the whole night and day thing yet. So, when Buyagift got in contact to ask me if I'd like to review a spa day for two at Bannatyne's in Darlington, I jumped at the chance for Kate and I to spend the day together away from the grasps of a tiny person. 

The booking process was exceptionally easy and faff free - a voucher arrived from Buyagift, I activated it online and then rang to confirm the treatments and a nice lady with a lovely accent explained what the day would consist of. Sorted.

When we arrived at Bannatyne's, we were asked to hand over £3 each for a 'spa pack' which consisted of the loan of a robe and some slippers. To be honest, if I'd forked out £89 for the day (which is the RRP), I would have been pretty annoyed at paying an extra £6 for something that should be part and parcel of a spa experience. I also think Bannatyne's missed a trick here - if they're going to do spa packs, why not include a few cosmetic product testers? 

In fact, Bannatyne's didn't miss an opportunity to sell to us. Throughout the day, we were asked if we wanted to upgrade our spa treatments (which could have cost us over £20 each) and our masseuses also went to great lengths to try to convince us to buy a £30 skincare pack. When I go somewhere to relax (or relax as best as I know how), I don't expect to be constantly herranged to pass over my hard earned pennies.

Aside from that, the day was a joy. The voucher included two spa treatments (totaling 55 minutes), unlimited use of the steam room, sauna, pool and jacuzzi, and the chance to kick-back in a deliciously decadent relaxation room, complete with water beds and hot chairs. We could have joined any one of a number of classes too, but as our gene pool has decided that we should both prefer cake to exercise, we gave that one a miss. 

Anyway, as my sister is far better at relaxing than I, it's probably best to hand over to her for her review of the day. She's kindly managed to put together a few words when she's not been busy waving a hairdryer at Will. 

Take it away, Kate...

My darling little sister decided to reminisce about our younger years today. The conversation went something like this:

Becs: 'Kate, do you remember when you were a teenager and you got loads of spots?'
Me: 'Yes Becs'
Becs: 'And I teased you?'
Me: 'Yes Becs'
Becs: 'And mum told me that I'd get them one day so to stop it'
Me: 'Yes Becs'
Becs: 'Well I didn't, did I? Ha'.

In our teenage she would probably have got a smack. At the very least I would have thrown her clean clothes out of my bedroom window onto the freshly cut grass in spite (true story. She responded by cutting up my favourite top).  She nearly landed one today, except that as ever her timing was impeccable: she was treating me to a swanky spa day, we were just about to have our facials, and I loved my snuggly Bannatyne's robe far too much to risk enraging a girl with form for clothing mutilation. The robe was white and fluffy and was perfectly living up to my expectations of spa-life, the only downside being that you didn't get to keep it at the end of the day. The facial, when it came, was almost as amazing. Being married to a Chemist, I have been groomed for many years now to dismiss any beauty product containing 'aqua' (for this, read 'all products ever') as 'a huge con: THEY'RE JUST WATER'. But boy, was it nice water today. I was sorely tempted to buy myself some of the products afterwards, which is saying something for me, but at £30 a kick I figured both my wallet and my marriage would be in a better state if I just grabbed a bottle of Evian instead.

The voucher meant we also got to have a back, neck and shoulder massage, which would have been pretty close to heaven had it not uncovered quite a lot of tension in my right shoulder that I didn't know I was carrying around. But then every cloud has a silver lining, as the masseuse informed me that her recommendation to remedy this would be a monthly massage. Definitely physio I could get used to! 
After our treatments we hit the pool and jacuzzi, which were refreshing and relaxing in equal measure. My terribly sad confession however, is that the high point of our pool experience came for me in the changing room at the end of the day. With an inquisitive and intrepid eleven month old son at home, I generally only get to dry my hair at the moment by interspersing air to the hair with air on his's a long process! What luxury, then, get to sit in front of the mirror with the hairdryer uninterrupted for a full ten minutes...

 All in all, it was a really lovely day, and definitely needed after a week which, for lots of reasons, had been quite hard work. Thanks for taking me little sister. You're alright really, and I'll even forgive you for never getting any spots.

DISCLAIMER: Kate and I experienced the spa day as guests of Buyagift, but if I wouldn't recommend it to a friend, you wouldn't be hearing about it here. 


  1. Great post Becs. I too am not a relaxing-kinda-girl and I too, went on a Bannatyne's spa weekend with a friend (compliments of her work) and had a similar experience. I also seemingly get bored very quickly and while my friend was happy to sit around in the jacuzzi for hours, I was not quite as comfortable. However, saying that I actually had a lovely time too, and I must have, on some level, relaxed (maybe that was the wine though ;)).

  2. Sounds like fun sister time...

  3. It’s nice that you and your sister got that argument settled. Also, spa day! Doesn’t it feel great after going to a spa?

    Gregoria Gorham