Spa..aaaaaaah!

No matter how many parties the festive period has thrown at you, there’s not much that can’t be fixed by some well administered self care. Now imagine that self care played out against azure skies and rustling palm trees. With an estimated 320 days of sunshine a year, Marbella is a mere three hour hop-skip from the UK, so what better way to kickstart 2017 than with a stint at its Puente Romano Hotel and Spa. For a start there are nine restaurants, a cocktail lounge and a world-class nightclub. A spa resort that allows you to recuperate but also indulge seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. I checked in for a long weekend to find out more.

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What to expect:
Less than an hour’s drive from Malaga airport, Puente Romano is a sprawling beachside getaway that boasts tennis, golf, spa and wellness facilities, but still manages to retain an air of tranquility. Resembling an Andalusian style village, the resort is draped across a 13 acre site that includes lush, subtropical gardens, three swimming pools, dining terraces and a jetty. The backdrop is idyllic; nestled just off the beach amid swathes of sun-drenched sand, you can hear the sound of the waves from your bed and taste the sea air as you relax on your private veranda.

I arrived at our suite to find a jaw-dropping view of the Med, palatial bed, fresh flowers, candles, chocolate, bundles of aromatherapy products and a fully stocked mini bar. As welcomes go, it was nothing short of a fanfare. Each room comes with an iPad providing instant access to everything on offer; you can peruse menus, order room service, reserve dinner and request concierge. There’s even an option to view your bill (not advised!) and check the local weather.

Service is, as you’d expect from a 5 star destination, second to none. The staff are hugely attentive but not in your face, leaving you feeling looked after rather than waited on. At first the resort seems rather vast, almost labyrinthine, but you can request golf buggies to ferry you around and actually found getting lost inside the gardens rather pleasant. If anything I loved Puente Romano’s size; both homely and wonderfully private at the same time.

What’s on offer:
There are a wealth of things to do, so you can be as gung-ho or lax as you fancy. There’s yoga, tennis (Novak Djokovic plays there regularly), golf facilities, a Six Senses spa and fitness suite. You can borrow bikes, make use of the three pools, book in for beauty treatments, walk along the eight mile beach promenade, hire a paddle board or languish on one of the hotel’s private loungers with a cocktail.

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The highlights:

This is no fat farm. The food is worth the trip alone: nine restaurants housing every gastro delight going – from Michelin starred Andalusian cuisine courtesy of superstar chef Dani Garcia, to Peruvian-Japanese fusion. For health bunnies there’s an organic restaurant serving up rainbow inspired Buddha bowls and seasonal super salads. There’s even a gluten-free bakery which hand makes exquisite cupcakes, freshly prepared cold pressed juices and nutrient packed shots.

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The spa:
The Six Senses Spa is a tucked away in a quiet corner of the resort and quickly became my epicenter for unwinding. Its luxurious take on minimalism has a definite Scandi feel with bleached pine, chevron tiles and sumptuous day beds. Offering a layered approach to wellness with treatments that go way beyond the ordinary, procedures are carried out by practitioners who are experts in their field. The minute you enter, you know you’re in exceptionally good hands; it just has that air.

Having signed up to the Integrated Wellness package, I was offered a one-to-one consultation and complete health and wellbeing screening. My diet, exercise, metabolism, circulation, stress status and postural alignment were assessed using leading edge, evidence based software. The results were then evaluated and translated into a bespoke wellness programme that included daily spa treatments, wellness activities and nutritional advice. On the first day I had a blissfully restorative deep tissue massage, complete with heated essential oils, cupping techniques to bring toxins to the surface and a head, hand and foot massage that left me starry-eyed.

As well as a mani-pedi station and eyebrow threading, the spa offers medical grade skincare therapies, oxygen facials, body sculpting wraps and even a hamman. If you don’t fancy a treatment, you can book into the H2O therapy suite which houses a series of plunge pools, jacuzzis and ice bath, as well as steam and sauna rooms. It’s the perfect place to bask poolside, being lulled by the internal waterfall while sipping freshly grated ginger tea.

Don’t forget:
Check out the small but well equipped fitness suite with treadmills, cross trainers, exercise machines and weights room. There’s also a yoga class on the beach every Wednesday morning and a silent cinema night.

Who goes:
The burnt out. The stressed. The knackered. The anxious. Or those simply looking for some winter sun and to get away from it all. We noticed a lot of Euro jet-setters, small groups and couples, but it works equally well for solo travellers wanting some respite.

Need to know:
There’s a programme for everyone, so whether you’re a fitness warrior, a postpartum mum looking to shape up or a busy professional in need of a break, speak to the team and they will tailor your trip according to your aims.

The upshot:
Puente Romano offers a great way to gently set yourself up for the year ahead. There’s nothing restrictive and essentially you make your own itinerary; think re-boot rather than boot camp. Having swam, stretched, steamed, ate, drank and napped for four days, I left calmer, happier, energised and with an overwhelming desire to come back for more.

For more information and to discover the latest wellness packages on offer, visit www.puenteromano.com

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