In search of bliss
Travel writer Ferne Arfin in need of some R&R heads west to Saundersfoot in search of bliss.
My recipe for a perfect spa break includes peace and quiet, beautiful sea views and lovely food. And of course, it goes without saying, immaculate, uncrowded and luxurious spa facilities.
How nice to discover I didn't have to travel to an exotic location on the other side of the planet when everything I needed was just a few hours' drive from London in Pembrokeshire.
St Bride's Spa Hotel clings to a cliff overlooking Saundersfoot. My view was a ravishing spectacle of sea and sky - Saundersfoot Beach, ringed by the village's pastel-coloured houses, spread out below and beyond it, Carmarthen Bay as far as the eye can see. With a location like this one, the hotel's owners could simply have pointed as many windows as possible at the view and left it at that.
Of course, relaxing in luxury demands more, and this hotel doesn't disappoint. Most of the 34 rooms have a sea view and a balcony from which to enjoy it. Rooms are spacious, modern and contemporary,with a breezy seaside ambiance and large, modern bathrooms - some with freestanding bathtubs, designer basins for two and stall showers.
Inside the well-lit hall cupboard I found very generous-sized terry robes, just the thing for wearing down to the spa. If you book a room in the main building, you can take a lift to the spa from right outside your door.
There's a full range of health and beauty treatments, waxing, tinting, facials, massages, featuring marine extracts, seaweed, sea salt, and all the rest. But it's the thermal suite - all those fragrant, salty, steamy, warm and hot water choices - that are the big draw for me.
The "salt infusion room" alternating moist heat with burst of sea salt infused steam is meant to do all sorts of good things for you. The "aromatic" steam room eases breathing and cleanses the lymphatic system. The herbal rock sauna purifies and the "sensation shower," alternating tropical rain, cold mist and a gush shower "refreshes mind and body." Whatever. All I know is that it all feels terrific.
But the pièce de resistance is the infinity pool, hanging above the bay and so carefully positioned that you can imagine drifting off the edge into the sea. As I floated outdoors in its salt-infused turquoise water, comfortably warm though it was a particularly cold and windy day, I knew I'd found what I always hope to find at a spa. Bliss.