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LUXURY SPAS: The Spa at the Culloden Estate and Spa, Northern Ireland
Ashamedly, I committed the cardinal spa sin of not arriving early for my spa treatment due to my previous activity over-running. As I quick-footed my way through the beautiful gardens of the Culloden Estate and Spa, I began to panic; what sort of welcome would greet me? Luckily rather than being stern and judgemental the spa staff were wonderfully friendly and immediately put me at ease. 
I was led through to the recently extended and refurbished Spa area, which features eight treatment rooms and two relaxation suites, to change in the locker room and begin to unwind in the quiet suite. 
My therapist Natasha took the time to ask me questions about my skin type and what I thought my concerns were. She then handed me two cotton swabs with different scents on them, then smeared two different creams on both my hands. I was instructed to pick the two that I was instantly drawn to; I opted for the refreshing citrus blends, from which my treatment was tailored to my tastes and needs.'

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I have experienced many spa treatments, but this was a treatment that I feel was a worthwhile investment. Not only was it indulgent befitting any luxury traveller, but I left feeling that there were valuable benefits.

Rather scarily a UV light was used by Natasha to demonstrate the true nature of my skin - not a good experience after a few days in the 'fresh' Northern Ireland weather and evenings at The Cultra Inn enjoying pints of the 'Black Stuff'! However, Natasha's knowledge and advice reassured me and during my 55 minute tailored treatment my skin was deeply cleansed and moisturised and I also enjoyed relaxing acupressure and a soothing scalp massage. 

While I got dressed back into my robe and slippers, Natasha served me some herbal tea and gave me a pamphlet detailing my skin type and the ESPA products that she had used. Thankfully there was no hard sell on these (which I'm sure most Spa connoisseurs would agree they hate). Such was the level of information and advice that she gave me that I returned the next day to the spa and purchased one of the serums (something I never normally do from hotel spas).
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Culloden Estate and Spa, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Following the treatment I was able to spend the afternoon enjoying the spa facilities which at the time were also being used by the Northern Ireland national football team for their pre-match training.

The Spa features swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, state-of-the-art fitness suite with cardio-theatre, fitness consultation clinic and dance studio. Be sure to leave time to visit the 'Zest Café', located overlooking the swimming pool, for a nutritious and delicious drink or snack.

I was still feeling the benefits of my spa treatment long into the evening, but don't just take my word for it the biggest seal of approval came two days later when I was complimented, by someone who never normally picks up on things like this. I was told that I looked 'really refreshed and relaxed'... proof indeed that the treatment and its effects were well worth it.
 
Sarah Bryans, 5/1/14
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