Daphne Metland is the director of Good Spa Guide and Chief Spa Spy. Daphne has a wealth of experience in health and medical writing for numerous UK women’s and lifestyle titles and was the travel editor on Family Circle magazine. We wanted to find out a bit more about Daphne and what she thinks makes an outstanding spa experience:
Your have the enviable task of reviewing spas – sounds like a dream job! Which treatment is your favourite?
I love having my feet massaged, so I always go for a really good pedicure. If you include reflexology with the pedicure, I’m in spa heaven. I honestly think that regular facials make a real difference to how you look and feel, so I am always very willing to have a facial at any spa.
Which new and emerging treatments do you think we’ll be taking in the next twelve months?
We are seeing more treatments that help people cope with the stresses and strains of modern life; like massages that include lymphatic drainage to boost your immune system, or facials that work on the sinuses to help you recover from colds. I also think we will be seeing more seasonal treatments, for example one of the Spa Spies recently tried a hay fever rescue facial. More and more people expect visible results from treatments, so anti-aging facials such as Carita Pro-Lift Firming facial are a good investment for anyone over a certain age.
What characteristics make a good spa therapist?
Ideally a super therapist is a combination of Mary Poppins, your best friend (who is allowed to see your cellulite) and your mother! Failing that, I want someone competent, calm and collected who listens to what I say and adapts the treatment to suit me.
In your opinion, which country in the world can you find the best spa experience?
It depends what treatment you are having. You can’t beat America for a really thorough facial – they are so good at ‘extractions’. The very best ayurvedic treatments are, of course, in India. I had a hot herb poultice treatment in Delhi recently, and while it is not for wimps (those little bags of herbs are super hot) it did make me feel wonderful for days afterwards. I also really enjoy genuine Thai massage, which is very different from an everyday massage.
Champneys, one of the UK’s best known and well-loved spa groups recently featured in an ITV “fly on the wall” documentary and the response was far from favourable – what went wrong?
A really good spa is a bit like a swan; elegant and serene above the water, but paddling like mad underneath to make it all happen. I think during the programme we saw what was happening under the water! It was a shame that the programme focussed on just one spa, there are so many good spas in the UK now and they are all very different. The spas that get it right have strong leadership, staff who are empowered, a focus on good customer service and continual improvement.
Should a good spa experience include healthy food – or indulgent treats?
Both! I always start the day wanting to eat healthy fruit, smoothies and salads, but by mid-afternoon I am more than ready for an indulgent treat. Some spas offer post treatment snacks; a little dish of frozen grapes, a few mixed nuts or a tiny tasty sorbet, a trend that should be encouraged!
Can you tell us what you think is a real no-no when visiting a spa?
Stacks of used towels lying around, other people’s hair in the showers, smelly loos, offhand service and treatment times that are skimped are all ‘no nos’ for the Good Spa Guide. We like spas that are squeaky clean, smell delicious and are well kept. Tell us what is in your handbag…we’d love a picture! My handbag is my mobile office as I seem to spend my life driving from spa to spa or catching a plane. You can find out more about The Good Spa Guide at www.goodspaguide.co.uk