By Simon & Susan Veness
Quick question for you: When was the last time you visited a Spa on land? If the answer is “last week,” then this story is not for you (albeit, you might still be interested in some of the history!).
We do, however, wonder what the majority think of spas in general terms. Is this a regular indulgence, a birthday treat, or simply a hard-to-fathom luxury that has no place in day-to-day life?
For us, certainly, a trip to the spa is, at best, an annual extravagance; a much-needed tune-up for the body after months of being chained to the computer keyboard, with our posture a thing of pity and our muscles an atrophied wasteland.
In short, it’s almost a necessity by the time we think to indulge in something that is now a part of the leisure world’s mainstream, especially at sea.
Aha – especially at sea. Do we have your attention? Because this is something that may just stop you in your tracks. Spas are now a run-of-the-mill component of cruise ships, are they not? A routine service that absolutely every cruise line provides and that we pretty much take for granted, as well as something we are far more likely to consider with our relaxation at sea rather than on terra firma?
In fact, high-quality spas are such a mainstream part of the cruise world, it is easy to think of them having been forever thus, a commonplace amenity. Only that would be a major mis-thought.
Go back as recently as the 1980s, and you might be astonished to learn spas on ships were unheard of, the kind of frippery that absolutely no-one deemed important. A 20-course midnight buffet, yes; a multi-treatment massage centre, no way. If you were lucky, there might be a hair salon and, in a dark corner somewhere in the bowels of the ship, an exercise bicycle.
And then Cunard pretty much broke the mould. They brought the renowned Californian Golden Door spa onto the QE2 and discovered that cruisers actually, really, really liked the idea of some onboard pampering. So much so, in fact, that 10 years later no ship could be built without an elaborate treatment centre full of the hottest gadgets, gizmos and essential oils to provide the latest in chillout opportunities.
And, from the initial phase, spas at sea were buried below decks in places that often required a map and compass to find, these elemental options have evolved to command prime sea-going real estate, often on one of the top decks, with expansive views and extensive territory.
Exercise classes were added, followed by yoga, Pilates and even Tai Chi. Nowadays, no daily shipboard programme of events is complete without multiple ways to tone up, lose weight or start that fitness regime you resolved to do on New Year’s Day 10 years ago.
And, as fast as land-based spas come up with new ways to revive, soothe and cosset us, so the nautical version catches up and adds them to the programme, too.
In fact, it’s easy now to believe this is the way it’s always been, that spas are a totally standard practice, a casual choice on any cruise.
And then something new drops in our Inbox and we remember that this was definitely not always the case, and it makes us go, “Oh, we want to do THAT!”
The cutting-edge Serene Spa & Wellness will offer “exclusive treatments integrating techniques and ingredients from destinations around the world, creating a tranquil haven of health, beauty and wellness that offers restorative treatments and services to soothe both the body and mind.”
Now, it may just be the fact that we are deeply, profoundly in need of something to soothe both the body and mind, but this does genuinely seem like another welcome step forward in the world of spas at sea and the various treatments available.
Here’s what they say: “The ground-breaking menu of services reflects treatments originating from many of the 450 destinations to which we sail and includes globally renowned ELEMIS facial therapies, body treatments, massages, manicures, pedicures, luxury Kérastase salon services, fitness classes and personal training, plus a series of wellness tours and nutritionally mindful cuisine selections served in restaurants on board.”
Jason Montague, Regent’s president and CEO, added: “Regent is deeply inspired by the peace and serenity found in every region of our globe, and we are bringing the beautiful traditions and tried-and-true techniques of the world’s cultures into our exclusive Spa experiences through treatments, cuisine and captivating shore excursions.
“We originally developed this innovative experience for Seven Seas Splendor in our pursuit to perfect luxury for our newest ship, and then decided to expand it for guests to embark on a global journey of relaxation on all Regent ships. Serene Spa & Wellness will set a new benchmark in luxury spas at sea.”
Okay, so you can file some of that under the ‘Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they?’ category, but it’s also true Regent has long been an innovator in the Spa world, partnering with the iconic Canyon Ranch brand 10 years ago to create the blissful SpaClub at Sea, and introducing the massively indulgent Spa suite on their Seven Seas Explorer in 2016.
This certainly sounds like another progressive step in the development of the more holistic nature of spas in general and, especially, those at sea, and it will be an extremely welcome addition to their six-star style and other spa services, which already set a high benchmark for maritime magnificence.
And, if Regent requires two legitimate guinea pigs to test out their “restorative treatments,” then we have some very needy candidates in mind…!
Do you regularly visit a Spa on land or do you only visit one at sea? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.