When Claire Davison joined the Spa Team at Doxford Hall in 2016 there was more than a little sense of deja vu. Back in 2008 when Brian Bernie, then owner of the Hall, was looking to design a luxurious space for guests to relax and unwind in, it was Claire that he turned to. As an experienced therapist and spa manager, with 20+ years in the industry, Claire was able to visualise how today’s spa would look and how guests would enjoy a seamless experience from start to finish. Now manager of Doxford’s 5-strong team of therapists, Claire shares her tips for a blissed-out spa experience.
What brought you back to Doxford Hall?
It was time for a change and since I had been involved in the designing of the Spa at Doxford Hall changes in circumstances brought me back to where I belong.
Claire, you’ve been working in the spa industry for many years now. What’s been the biggest change you’ve seen in therapies offered during this time?
Many spas follow some wacky trends. Do you remember that frankly disgusting foot treatment that was popular several years ago where clients would submerge their feet into fish tanks to have their dead skin nibbled off by fish? There was also the fad where slugs would be placed on the skin during a facial to help slow the aging process. I’m grateful to have not performed these treatments and I firmly believe that we always come back to basics. Therapies may change a little but a good old-fashioned full body massage is hard to beat.
What’s your favourite treatment on the current menu and why?
I love the Facial Yoga! It’s a beautiful 25-minute facial that includes use of a Guasha jade stone –considered to be more precious than gold in parts of Asia. This is a treatment that’s designed to hydrate the skin, stimulate your lymphatic system and boost collagen production. It involves cleansing, exfoliating and deep massage to nourish facial tissues. Pretty much a wonder treatment in less than 30 minutes!
What’s the biggest misconception about spas?
That spas are intimidating and uninviting spaces, reserved for the wealthy and body-perfect. This could not be further from the truth at Doxford Hall. We’re a small, friendly Spa, where anyone from any walk of life, any shape or size is made to feel welcome. A visit to a Spa should be a treat, where you leave feeling better than you did when you arrived. A lot of our guests come back repeatedly not necessary because of the facilities but because of the quality of the treatment they receive. Every guest is made to feel special from the minute they enter until the minute they leave.
We offer a full range of massage treatments at Doxford – they’re always popular, after all you can give yourself an at-home facial but a massage is harder to achieve! One of our newer treatments massage is the Warm Bamboo Anma which helps to sculpt the figure. Using warm Bamboo, Called Take in Japanese. It represents youth, prosperity and Serenity in Asia. Warm Bamboo is rolled on target areas to help break down fatty deposits increase circulation and is the ultimate relaxation.
We also do a really firm Mohom Deep Pressure massage which is not for the faint hearted. It’s designed to encourage blood flow to stretch muscles and ease joints and condition the whole body using Thai therapeutic massage, pure essential oils and a warm herbal poultice.
What advice would you give to anyone visiting the spa for the first time?
A lot of men and women get very anxious about coming to spas especially if it is their first visit. I think it is a combination of not knowing where to go once you’re in the spa and also not knowing what to expect from your therapist or treatment. Fret not, all of this will be explained to in your pre-arrival email and again when you arrive. What first time spa goers have to remember is the spa team will have heard all the questions before so it is okay to ask anything to make you feel at ease. Don’t be nervous about your treatment – your therapist will go through your consultation form before your treatment and it’s another opportunity to ask about anything you are not sure about.
I would advise that you leave your phones and iPads behind and switch off from the outside world, forget about your worries and take some time to reconnect with yourself.
If you can only afford one treatment per year, which would it be and why?
I’d opt for a Full Body Himalayan Body Scrub. It helps to remove all the dead skin leaving your body feeling absolutely amazing, and your skin glowing and super soft. It’s the perfect pre-holiday treatment.
What’s the best piece of beauty advice you’ve been given?
My grandmother always said that if you look after your skin, it will look after you. I always wear a high sun protection factor, particularly on my face and neck – the sun really does cause irreparable damage. I’d also recommend applying hand cream every day and night as your hands are the first place to age and you can’t rewind the time.