It would be very tempting on all-inclusive holidays to stay at one of the bars and drink all day, or go out onto the deckchairs on the grass or beach and lie in the sun. However, on the trip I was on courtesy of Jet2Holidays (a blogger press trip, lest we not forget), the St George Hotel and Spa had an alternative option. It felt remiss to be spending four days in the resort and not visit the spa for some of the treatments. It was, after all, in the name.
What was available at the spa
I’ve only ever been to a spa once before, and that was a specialist beer spa in rural Czechia, as part of a brewery trip. So while I still wasn’t really sure what to expect from one, I figured I had the time and resource to find out.
The spa itself had a few different parts. It took up much of the basement level of the resort, under a couple of the restaurants, bars, and the patio, with a door to the outside pools and the beach. The multi-gym was just outside the spa’s reception. It’s at reception you could collect towels by handing over a card connected to your room you got at check-in. This allowed you to ‘hire out’ a clean towel, with unlimited replacements, saving you the need to carry your own or take one from the room. Reception was also where you could book personal treatments, but I’ll talk about those later.
Beyond the reception was a large spa pool, a calming way to swim away from the bars and sun-seekers in the pools outside. In winter this pool is heated. Alternatively you could just relax on the recliners around the edge, and sit in the cool quiet.
Relaxing by the side of the spa pool.
The other side of the spa pool were the treatment rooms, which also included a small room with what can best be described as ‘rocking beds’. You half-sat, half-lay, on them, and they rocked up and down. A couple of them were heated. It was where you went when waiting for a treatment, or directly used as part of one of the treatment packages.
Behind the reception desk were the changing rooms, the jacuzzi/hot tub, the sauna, and the steam room. The latter required you to tell the reception desk you wanted to use it, and they’d turn it on. This is presumably because it puts out a lot of heat and energy. The men’s changing room had quite a lot of lockable lockers, so it would be rare for there to be no room for you; I can’t comment on the women’s changing room. There were also two shower cubicles here, complete with all-purpose liquid soap.
What was the spa like to try?
Let’s start with the hot tub. I had a couple of teething troubles, including sitting on the step rather than the bench below, and not being able to find the ‘let’s make this rhumble’ button, but once I’d got that figured out, it was a nice place to sit and muse. When you push the button for the jets of water, they stay vibrant for several minutes, which is a good experience. The pool itself was big enough for at least four people – when me and Laura were in it the first time, two other ladies joined us for a few minutes while they waited for their coach back to the airport. And they were not size zero, shall we say, but it didn’t feel cramped at all.
The hot tub, looking a bit like a void to another dimension. That’s a facet of my camera, not the tub itself.
The only downside of the hot tub was its location, just off the corridor to the other facilities so I’d imagine in busy periods there’d be a constant stream of people walking past you as you chilled, but I don’t imagine that would be too much of an issue. Unless you were quite body-shy.
The sauna felt quite traditional, in the sense of how I always imagined saunas to be. There was a fire on the wall, and two levels of wooden seating. I’m guessing the technique is to spend some of the time at the lower level and some at the higher level, but I don’t know. This is absolutely not my scene. On the wall near the fire was an hourglass, measured in blocks of 5 minutes. I assumed the idea was to flip it over when you got in, and leave when the sand ran out. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but the sauna did get pretty hot so I don’t know how much time you could realistically spend in there.
Inside the sauna; very wooden and rustic/traditional.
The steam room however gave much more detailed instructions. On the wall outside were a series of notes about it, mostly warnings about who should use it, for how long, and what to do afterwards. In a nutshell, you’re supposed to spend around 6 minutes inside, and certainly no more than 10. You’re supposed to then go and cool down, either in the pool or in the shower, and rest a bit to get your temperature back to normal. Only then should you go back in the steam room for a second go. It also said that for most people, two cycles is enough. And you shouldn’t go in if you’re dehydrated, pregnant, or under the influence of alcohol. I read this and thought: ‘I’ve just been in the sauna, it can’t be that much different, surely’.
Reader, I lasted three minutes on my first try.
Rather than being wood-laden, the steam room was tiled, a bit like a swimming pool. Around the sides was a bench-like structure that you could sit on. This was fine for the first couple of minutes, as the heat built up, and you think ‘oh, this isn’t too bad’. Then two things happen. Firstly, the room fills with steam, which sounds pretty obvious but it’s much more than you imagine. It becomes difficult to see anything, and finding either the bench or the door out becomes quite a task. Secondly, the steam seems to come from inlets below the seating, so your legs start to burn. Standing up just means you feel slightly faint from the heat. There’s also no timepiece in the room to know how long you’ve been in there, so it’s quite disorienting. I resorted to counting, just to make sure I didn’t over-steam myself.
The inside of the steam room, before it was filled with steam, obviously.
Don’t let yourself think this was a bad experience. I disregarded the health & safety information and had three sessions in the room, although only once did I manage to last the minimum-suggested 6 minutes. I used both the spa pool and the hot tub to cool down – when a hot tub feels chilly, you can gauge how hot the steam room was.
I don’t honestly know if any of this did me any good, but I was definitely reminded of how the Ancient Romans did bath-houses (and how Turkish Baths work, though I’ve never been to one of those either). I’m certainly not averse to trying them again, but I would be more keen to know if I was doing it ‘right’, you know?
What’s the dress code for the spa and sauna?
I came prepared; I wore an athletic crop-top and capri leggings combo I’ve also used for Parkrun. Presumably you can wear less and cover yourself with the towel – they’re certainly large enough. There’s nothing to say what you can or can’t wear. The changing rooms are behind the doors anyway so unless you wanted to go to the spa pool, you’re not going to be in public, Also, for most of the time I was in those areas, I was alone, so it probably wouldn’t have mattered, but just in case, I wanted to cover up a bit more than that.
Me in the sauna. I was looking very hot, but at least I could see, unlike the steam room.
Just be aware that both the sauna and the steam room, by their very nature, make you and everything you’re carrying very damp and hot. The steam room instructions specifically say to remove jewellery and not take electronics inside. You will get damp. You will need a replacement towel from reception to dry off afterwards.
Are the treatments included on the package?
The spa itself was included in the package; that is to say, we had free and unlimited use of the spa pool, the sauna, the steam room, the hot tub, and the multi-gym. What was not included in the package were any of the many beauty packages and self-care treatments offered within the spa complex.
What treatments were available?
The list of available treatments was quite long; there was a whole brochure listing them. They included ten different types of facial treatments, a couple of body polishes and body wraps, ten various forms of massage, manicures & pedicures, hair waxing & removal up to and including pretty much a full body session, eyebrow makeovers, and a couple of hydrotherapy treatments. These could be chosen separately, or made up into a ‘package’. One of the packages was a ‘romantic treatment for two’ which included hydrotherapy, a steam and mud cleansing ritual (“rasul”), and a full body massage. We did not do that. Obviously.
Note that not all the treatments were necessarily available. We’d wanted a pedicure but the person who was trained to give them was off work the week of our visit. You also needed to book at least in advance for the treatments, and in fact in busier times it might be advisable booking more than that – possibly before your arrival.
One thing to note is that it was possible to buy the products used in many of the treatments; they were available from the reception desk, allowing you to continue your treatments at home.
What were the treatments like?
Would you recommend the spa
Yes, with the caveat that I didn’t really know what I was doing nor what benefits it was going to bring, so I’d probably want to go in next time with more of a plan than ‘oh I’ll just go in the steam room again cos it’s there’. I’d also say it helps if you can swim; the spa pool is nice to relax in but if all you’re doing is walking around the shallow end, it feels quite embarrassing.
Me in the hot tub. I seem to be quite relaxed.
I’m also not sure how it would be if it were busier. We seemed to visit the resort just before high season, so I’d imagine if four or five strangers were with you in the sauna, it would feel a bit more strangely intimate, as well as much hotter. But I’m an introverted British enby.