**Please note that the treatment received and access to the thermal spa was courtesy of Spa Experience. This, however, is an honest review of my experience. Full Disclaimer.
“Located in the newly refurbished Olympia Leisure Center, Spa Experience is the perfect place for inner-city relaxation. Having lived in West Belfast for a number of years, I’m well aware of The Boucher Road’s appeal to shoppers and gym bunnies. The addition of a spa within the Olympia is perfect and provides a much-needed addition to the multitude of shops, car retailers, gyms and restaurants that can be found along the strip.
If you want to get away from the bustle of the city, but don’t want to go too far, then Spa Experience is perfect for you. “
I’m very lucky to have been given the opportunity by Spa Experience to attend their Thermal Spa on Boucher Road. I was a local to Belfast for over four years and remember the Olympia prior to its refurbishment. There were whispers of a spa during its closure, but nothing set in stone.
I’d expected an average post-gym spa set up with a jacuzzi in one corner, and a steam room in the other. What I wasn’t expecting was a full-on Thermal spa, complete with a variety of treatments for you to choose from.
Author’s note: Phones are strictly prohibited for good reason. Please know that I only took this photo when no one else was around & it was immediately retired to my bag in the interests of privacy & digital detoxing. Remember to respect the rules of the spa while there.
The Crown to Sole Treatment.
As I wanted something specifically for my feet, I opted for the Crown to Sole treatment. This treatment involved not only the feet but also the head, shoulders and face.
I have to admit this was my first time experiencing a facial. Although nervous because I’m used to having treatment on my back and shoulders, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll certainly be treating myself to more facials in the future!
Before beginning the treatment, my massage therapist took the time to explain the concept of the massage to me and ensured the bed temperature was to my liking.
The treatment began with a cleansing foot and leg exfoliation, followed by a soothing massage of the same areas. There’s an added element of reflexology used, with various pressure points of the foot being manipulated to release tension. Finally, attention is moved to the crown, neck, and shoulders. These are massaged using a variety of signature oils leaving you feeling relaxed and ready to fall asleep right there on the table.
It was a very calming experience, and one I would certainly go for again. On a few occasions, I could feel myself nodding off to sleep which, although not an uncommon experience, was certainly surprising as I’m usually hyper-aware of my surroundings.
The Thermal Spa Experience.
The Thermal Spa at this particular location (Belfast, Boucher Road) consisted of the following facilities:
A jacuzzi. Sometimes known as a hydrotherapy pool.
On the particular day of my visit, the jacuzzi wasn’t quite heated to a warm enough temperature for me. It was no fault of the facility, rather the cleaning company had arrived late and therefore the jacuzzi wasn’t completely ready in time for opening. These things happen and I’m not a jacuzzi fan anyway. With that being said, my partner and I expect to return in the next few weeks, so I can always give it a go then.
For those of you who may not be overly familiar with spas, a jacuzzi (or hydrotherapy pool) acts by warming up and massaging the muscles by using a combination of heat and pressure jets. The purpose is to relax aching and stiff muscles to allow for relaxation and relief.
The monsoon showers, also known as experience showers.
These showers are designed to rapidly heat you up or cool you down, depending on your preference. There were two available and a suspicious (but fun) looking ‘dunk’ shower. The showers could be used with a variety of settings ranging from a rain-head downpour to a regular water stream.
The ‘dunk’ shower resembled a rustic wooden bucket filled with, I’m assuming, cold water. By pulling the handle the bucket would quickly tip, dunking you with water.
Personally I didn’t use this because the thought of being dunked in cold water is not my idea of relaxation. However, I happened to witness a few guests using it and my assumption of cold water is based solely on their reactions.
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The ice cave & ice fountain.
The ice cave is used to cool the body down after a stay in the sauna, steam room or sanarium. Cold air works by contracting the blood vessels, stimulating the circulation system and promoting oxygen uptake.
The ice fountain contains actual chunks of ice which are intended to be rubbed directly onto the body.
The sauna is designed to make the body sweat. This helps remove toxins, clears the skin and cleanses the pores. In order to get the ultimate experience, it’s suggested that the time spent in the sauna is to be followed by a trip to the ice cave.
Not to be confused with the sauna, the sanarium relies on a more humid form of heat. The temperature isn’t quite as hot as a traditional sauna, but due to the humidity, it still feels just as hot. By using the sanarium you’re promoting healthy circulation, and helping to alleviate symptoms of circulatory problems.
I also find the heat in these various rooms helpful for muscle aches and pains. If like me you’re hunched over a laptop for over 15 hours a day, then you’ll be aware of the joys of shoulder and wrist pain. My trip to the spa has done wonders for relieving the build-up tension in those muscles, leaving me able to continue working with minimal disruption.
Heated tile loungers for relaxing, reading or snoozing.
Tile Loungers are a common theme in many of the spa’s that I’ve visited. They’re similar to a chaise lounge in shape but with the addition of heated tiles for you to lay back and relax. If you have a sensitive behind or shoulders, I would suggest strategically placing your towel or gown to relieve pressure when lying back. I learned this during my first visit to a spa and it’s saved me from aching muscles ever since.
It may seem strange to say, but heated loungers are my favorite thing to see in any spa. I had so much time to spend in the thermal spa that it encouraged me to kick back and curl up with a good book. We don’t often get the time or peace to enjoy doing nothing in our daily lives. So going somewhere like Spa Experience really helps us reconnect with ourselves. The addition of a ‘Mobile Phone’ ban really adds to the tranquillity and encourages a much needed digital detox.
Have you been to a thermal spa?
Have you ever had the opportunity to visit a thermal spa? What were your thoughts?
Want to get the Spa Experience for yourself? They have locations in Hertfordshire, London, Northern Ireland, and Surrey! There are a variety of packages and treatments for you to choose from, and be sure to get out their promotions.