Some people consider the life of a travel writer to be a rather jammy one. And I have to admit that I am fortunate to have been able to visit many exotic destinations through the course of my work.
Recently, I have found myself on a couple of large, very glitzy boats. But I wasn’t hanging out with Phillip Green and la Moss in the South of France, I didn’t actually go anywhere, as neither vessel set sail. I was in fact checking out the latest thing, boat spas. And the glamorous locations? Southampton and London’s Docklands.
My first stop was the foreboding Celebrity Cruises ship, Eclipse, which was moored at Southampton Docks. Celebrity Cruises has teamed up with the legendary Canyon Ranch SpaClubs, which is an interesting partnership but also a rather ingenious one on both parts.
Having been on a cruise before, I wasn’t too surprised at the grandness and scale; in fact, it seemed to be uncannily similar to the one I sailed on 10 years ago. As well as all the usual amenities, restaurants and of course the spa, this particular floating hotel even has a real grass lawn.
If you’re not familiar with Canyon Ranch resorts, here’s a little background: the philosophy is all about healthy living and pursuing optimum health and wellbeing. The first one (there are currently three in the USA) opened in 1979 in Tucson, Arizona, and ever since then the resorts have won numerous awards and welcomed thousands of stressed out guests to their high-end, holistic sanctuaries.
For a cruise ship – where previously the spa might have been the place where bored guests accidentally stumbled upon during days at sea – this is a game-changing concept; the staff are meticulously trained and the treatment menu seriously impressive. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re male, female, stressed, knackered, toxic or simply looking to be pampered.
The Persian Garden is your first stop, and a fabulous place to kill all that delicious time you have on your hands. Enjoy the aromatic steam room, Finnish and herbal saunas and sensory showers, or relax on one of the heated beds and take in the ocean views while you sail to your next destination.
Treatment highlights include Environ facials, the Asian-inspired therapies and Treatment Journeys, and the new-agey Grounding Pedicure, which ‘reconnects you to the natural energy of the Earth.’ I enjoyed a blissful 80-minute Tropical Lime and Bamboo ritual followed by a pedicure, performed by a super-cheery and meticulous therapist.
Back in the capital, my next port of call was the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel, which is permanently moored at Royal Victoria Dock. Think sexy superyacht over floating gin palace, as this vessel is considerably smaller and sleeker at 108 metres, although once on board it still feels pretty spacious.
Upon arrival, you feel as though you’re a guest on an exclusive yacht – in reality the boat has 132 rooms and four suites.
Spa treatments are provided courtesy of Elemis and take place in one of two tranquil treatment rooms, so you know that whatever you choose is going to make you feel a million dollars.
The menu is carefully edited and consists of massages and facials, plus beauty essentials including waxing and manicures. My therapist Joanna was brilliant and I can’t praise her enough for her professionalism and nurturing approach.
For maximum de-stressing benefits, I recommend the Deep Tissue Muscle Massage, which combines rhythmic pressure massage with essential oils to help you relax or re-energise.
The only downside was the lack of any spa music, plus the room was slightly on the cool side for me. The spa is open to both hotel residents and guests, and can be found on the third deck at the bow of the boat.
All treatments at Canyon Ranch SpaClubs are available to Celebrity Cruises guests at an additional cost (subject to cruise route and availability). For more information visit www.canyonranch.com/spaclubcelebritycruises.
For more information on the Elemis Spa at Sunborn London, visit www.sunbornhotels.com/london/hotel/elemis-spa