To spa or not to spa, that is the question

Spa weekend, photo of front of hotel with red carpet leading up the steps to the front door

Spa weekend at the Slieve Russell Hotel.  Our room was on the top floor – the one with the arched window.

A few months ago I got it into my head that I wanted to go on a spa weekend with my hubby for our anniversary.  Hubby wasn’t overly keen, however with a bit of work, he finally agreed to give it a go.  I wasn’t sure if I would benefit from it due to the pain of CRPS and the rest of my medical issues.  I was worried that massage would hurt too much or that I would not manage the additional moving around to use the facilities to the full benefit.

I did a lot of research on spa hotels within a couple of hours from home.  Several were already fully booked for the weekend I wanted and one was too expensive.  So I put the idea on the back burner and thought it was not meant to be on this occasion.

All I wanted was a whole weekend of pampering and switching off from the world.  Being wrapped in a little cocoon  where it would be just me, my hubby and the hotel we were staying in.  So I revisited all the hotels I had previously looked at online.  I was doing this on the mobile phone, and I only had concentration enough to look at one at a time.  My concentration was so low because of the pain and fatigue I was suffering, so checking out several hotels literally took several days.  Nothing had changed with regards to availability of most, however the one I had deemed too expensive suddenly wasn’t quite as expensive as I thought so I emailed them an enquiry.  I had my heart set on their feature suite on their web page.  I just wanted somewhere so perfect for our wedding anniversary and this room seemed to tick the boxes – the colours were colours I liked, the way the room was dressed and the facilities in the ensuite.  Being on crutches and using the wheelchair for longer distances I thought this room would be out as it was at the top of the hotel.

My enquiry to them consisted of availability any room for our anniversary weekend, followed by would this suite be available – I did not know the room number or name so all I could do was describe it as it had a really distinguishable feature of an arched window.  In among this was the usual questions a person with limited mobility needs to ask to ensure the facilities were accessible, such as is there a lift to the floor this room is on, does it have any disabled facilities in the room such as grab bars in the shower or a seat, how accessible are the restaurants, spa and leisure centre.  I didn’t want to arrive at the hotel and find problems with getting around as this would only lead to stress and ruin the perfect weekend retreat that I was trying to create. There is nothing worse than getting stressed about not being able to get somewhere because it is not accessible to people with limited mobility.  I hate it.  I hate feeling left out, or not accommodated, basically I feel like a second class citizen in situations like this and this should not be the case.

Imagine my delight when I received an email back from the hotel with the answers to all of my questions and most were positive and the one answer that wasn’t – accessibility to the pool – I was willing to try and overcome by other ways (they do not have any chair lift into the pool).  At least I was prepared for there being an accessibility issue.  The email was so thorough with the answers and so helpful too, especially as I had asked so many questions I felt drawn to giving this hotel a try.  The suite I so wanted to stay in was available and accessible, the only thing it didn’t have was the grab bars in the ensuite or the seat in the shower.  I so wanted to stay in this room I found ways to overcome this – hubby would be there to help for a start and I could take a shower seat with me.  Problem solved!

At long last our weekend arrived and hubby and I went on our spa break.  It was worth absolutely every penny paid for the weekend.  The room was gorgeous and really comfortable, we stayed in room 301.  I took my own chair to use in the shower – which was a double shower with jets on two walls, a rain shower and hose shower – very luxurious and well enjoyed.  The public areas of the hotel were nice and relaxing.  I even managed to get into the pool!  It wasn’t as easy as using a chair lift into a pool, however there were gentle steps down into the pool not just a ladder. By sitting on the wall next to these and shuffling along on my bottom until I was at a point where I could lower myself onto the steps that were lower in the water I was able to get into the pool.  I really enjoyed myself having a little swim and practicing walking in the buoyancy of the water, all part of my physiotherapy.  We even used the sauna and steam room, much to the annoyance of another guest when the door was open for a few seconds more than usual because I can’t walk fast especially on slippery surfaces.  One would hope he never ends up with a disability but if he did then maybe he would have a bit more of an understanding instead of the abrupt rudeness that he showed me.  The meals were delicious, the surroundings in the restaurants were a pleasure to sit in.  The foyer was a relaxing place.  All the staff we met were very helpful and friendly, they had even left us a card, chocolates and wine on our arrival, plus a fruit bowl to help celebrate our anniversary.  The gardens were perfectly manicured and I enjoyed our stroll (or should I say my wheel) through them.

My worries about accessing the spa were put to rest on Saturday morning, which was when we both had a spa treatment booked.  We used the hydrotherapy suite – the water jets in the spa pool were fabulous for ironing out the knots in my shoulders – my shoulders have not felt as good in a long time.  Also in the hydrotherapy suite was an ice fountain, sauna and steam room – all of which we used.  About 5 minutes before our treatments we went through into the relaxation suite and just lay back and chilled on the loungers.  Even hubby commented on how relaxed he felt.

I was a little nervous about my treatment and had I known what I know now I would have known there was nothing to be nervous about.  H, the therapist, came through and got me from the relaxation suite and took me to one of the private rooms.  She was a very relaxed person and that calmed my nerves too.  She explained what the treatment consisted of and gave me plenty of opportunity to ask questions.  Then she began.  She started with a couple of yoga breathing exercises before getting me to lie down on the bed.  My treatment was called Spiezia Head in Heaven – and that is exactly what it was.  She started on my upper back. shoulders, neck and head.  After a while she got me to turn over.  Here she focused on my upper chest and front of shoulders, face and head; this included a full facial.  I did not think I would ever relax as much as I did.  Several times I dropped off, well I think I did.  I certainly was not in the room for minutes at a time, I was somewhere else – whether that was sleeping or something else entirely I do not know.  All I know is that I would suddenly think of my breathing and come back to the room.  The treatment lasted 90 minutes.  The massage used was very light so it would not spark off any of my systems into generating pain signals.  H told me that it works on a parasympathetic level.  After the massage I returned to the relaxation suite, whilst hubby went off into the hydrotherapy suite.

By the time we were due to go home on Sunday morning, Hubby and I were so relaxed that we did not want to leave and hit the hum drum and rush of everyday life.  Unfortunately as the old saying goes “all good things must come to an end!”  My spa weekend was a success on many levels and one I would definitely repeat.

Slieve-Russell-Hotel-6

Upper Loch Erne, one of the places we stopped on the way to our spa break

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