Cheshire, the very heart of WAG and Corrie star land, isn’t the first place you’d expect to find the UK’s first foray into age-old Bavarian spa rituals, but the newly spruced up Mottram Hall Hotel is pioneering just that. Aiming to transform the hotel into a North West destination resort, De Vere have spent around £6 million shaking off the conference centre atmosphere, creating a sleek and modern hotel within the beautiful Grade II listed Georgian building set in 270 acres of pretty grounds. The rooms, cocktail bar and lounge have had a facelift; the gold course and club house have been made over in time to hold the PGA Senior tournament; and the Garden Suite is ready for an influx of elegant weddings.
The highlight though is the sparkling new Club & Spa area which features a state of the art gym and fitness studio, chic spa dining area and 17-metre pool. And nestling within it is the pièce de résistance – the innovative new Alfresco ThermoSpace, a tranquil outdoor area, fully decked with plenty of space for sun loungers and hanging basket seats. The highlight, of course, are the cabins, each built from Austrian timber and designed to recreate an authentic steam bath experience thanks to a collaboration with leading wellness expert Paul Haslauer.
The floor of the Herbal Brechelbath is covered with pine branches, which have a multi-sensory effect. Stepping on them not only has a cleansing effect but works on the feet’s acupressure points and releases an aromatic scent. Steam rises up through the floor, through a funnel and out again past pine cones to release even more aromatics. The atmosphere is gently warming, hugely relaxing and mild enough to allow a 30-minute stay – much longer than regular rooms in heat suites.
The Haslauer Stonebath meanwhile, is like watching the inner workings of a clock. Every four minutes, large mineral rocks held in a metal basket are lowered into an oven that heats them up before they are moved to a tub of cold water, releasing the mineral-enriched steam. It’s hotter than the Bechelbath, but still comfortable to sit in for an extended period. The fittings look simple but reassuring, reflecting the old-fashioned but tried and tested techniques. And as the temperatures vary rather than staying constant, you’ll find the cabins more comfortable and better for the cardiovascular system. There’s also a Dry Floatation Sensory Treatment room for weightless relaxation that doubles as a couples suite. So while the other cabins have a glass pane as a wall that looks over the sun deck, this one conceals your modesty with a smoked finish making it only possible to see out.
The rooms are separated by a walkway that holds two hanging wooden buckets full of cold water with a rope that lets you tip them up and cool the body down under the shower. Unpleasant as it sounds, it’s the best way to regulate your body temperature and nowhere near as vicious as the ice chips you’re usually encouraged to give yourself a rubdown with. The indoor Spa Suite has had a makeover too – each of the eight rooms is sleek and luxuriously spacious, with rich dark wood and soporific lighting. The new treatment menu features luxe brands ESPA and Carita as well as CACI (I recommend the ESPA Hot Stone massage as a must).
If you can rouse yourself after a hard day’s spa-ing, fine dining is another new addition to Mottram, thanks to celebrity chef Jim Key who has taken the reins at the slick Carrington Grill. His focus is on producing British food with top quality regional ingredients – think Scottish scallops and local lamb. Having worked in many Michelin-starred restaurants, Key cleverly combines old-fashioned British fare with hi-tech modern techniques including molecular gastronomy. With such enticing innovation setting up shop in Cheshire, maybe it’s time to rethink the area as WOW-land.
The Alfresco ThermaSpace is complimentary for hotel and spa guests as well as Club members. Overnight spa packages start at £92.50. For more information and to book, see the hotel’s wbesite.
IN THE AREA
If you can tear yourself away from the spa long enough to explore, you’ll find plenty to love in and around Wilmslow. For riders, horses can be hired at the nearby Tatton Estate, while for something more cerebral, there’s Macclesfield’s Silk Museum a ten-minute drive away. If you want to unleash your inner WAG, Premier League champions, Manchester United, are based 11 miles away at the vast 75,000-seater Old Trafford stadium. For more ideas, see discovercheshire.co.uk.