The spa industry has boomed over the last few years but, like any other bandwagon, many of those who have jumped on it are mediocre at best. I know this because a new benchmark has been set.
The Swinton Country Club and Spa is, without doubt, the best in Yorkshire and I’d be amazed if it wasn’t also the finest in the UK. I can usually find a niggle with just about anything but not here because everything is 100 per cent perfect, from the rural location and outstanding design to the friendly service, great treatments and the food.
The spa is just outside the Dales market town of Masham and the woman behind it is the down-to-earth and hard-working Lady Masham, aka Felicity Cunliffe-Lister. She oversaw the design and construction of the multi-million pound, contemporary new building. It is set in an historic walled garden close to the Cunliffe-Lister’s luxurious Swinton Park Hotel and within their vast rural estate.
I spent the best part of a day there one Friday with my Gorgeous Yorkshire co-blogger, Stephanie, and I didn’t want to go home. Usually, my spa boredom threshold is two hours max. Now, I’m talking about moving to Masham and splurging the monthly food budget on full-blown membership of the country club and spa.
Here’s why. Firstly, I love the building, which is wood with vast expanses of glass, and the interiors are exquisite. No expense has been spared and everything from the flooring to the furniture and lighting is incredibly stylish but not overstated. It all adds to the feel-good factor of this place, which is all about wellness.
Secondly, most spas have tiny pools, if they have one at all, but Swinton’s is 18 metres, which is big enough for keen swimmers like me to do laps in. Heaven! There’s also a number of steam and sauna areas. Steam is my favourite and there’s a choice of aroma steam in 100 per cent humidity and a salt steam to ease breathing and enhance the immune system. A separate hydrotherapy pool offers a choice of water jet massage features.
One of my favourite areas was the spa garden and its 10-metre outdoor, natural pool. Although I love swimming I don’t like cold water but Stephanie and I dared each other to do a few lengths. It’s icy and invigorating and I went back in at least three times more. The water is bio-filtered and chemical free, so ideal for anyone who suffers from sensitive skin. It is also oxygenated, which leaves the skin feeling refreshed and soft. I’d recommend getting in the cedar hot tub after, then snuggling up in the heated beds listening to the sound of birdsong. They have a wonderful view of the garden and sculptures, though you could try the alfresco sauna or warm up round the fire pit.
The food is first-rate and you can choose to eat in the The Terrace Restaurant Bar or in a spa dining room, where you can keep it very casual in swimming costume and robe.
It sells local produce, along with gifts, homeware and fashion. Clutching nuts (me), venison (Steph), a hat and some half-price Christmas decorations, we left on a high vowing to return as soon as possible.