Back in February, for Valentine’s Day, I asked Myke to buy us a spa package to stay in line with my current zen philosophy of experiences over possessions. I found a brilliant deal on Wowcher for Jade Spa in Manchester: 5 treatments plus afternoon tea for £39 each, or £75 per pair. I thought this would be a nice, relaxing day that we desperately needed since becoming parents and the perfect way to do something a little different for a date. The spa has extremely mixed reviews (click here for their trip advisor page) but given the apparent good value of the deal, we decided it would be worth the risk.
So on Monday, we sent Robin to spend some time with his Nana and Granddad for the day and headed to Manchester for the day.
Buying the voucher itself couldn’t have been easier. Wowcher is a straightforward system where you purchase a voucher. You can receive credit for its value against other vouchers with if you change your mind within 30 days without redeeming it. They then send an email containing your code which you redeem with the merchant following the instructions. You can buy multiples of these vouchers too, but always read the small print as some you may only purchase as gifts after the initial purchase.
Jade Spa’s instructions are to email them with the code to book your slot. This is the point where I started to worry. Other reviews of Jade Spa complain about the messages being unhelpful and rude, and I can’t say that I escaped this process unscathed. My husband works Mon-Fri, so I was pleased when I originally bought the wowcher to see that Saturdays were available (albeit for a £5 per person surcharge).
Upon emailing, they told me straight away that Saturdays were booked up until June (my voucher expires on 12th May). This meant that Myke was going to have to take a day off, and I would find it harder to arrange childcare. Since it was the only day I knew for sure I could, I asked if a Monday was available and was offered the 9th May. I replied straight away and said this was all right, and then told my husband to book the day off.
The next day I received an email to say that the 9th slot was no longer available, and so could I do the 16th instead. I’m a little incredulous to the fact that I was offered a slot and it had gone before I could accept when all business is done through email. However, the tones of the emails changed to be much friendlier after I pointed out that yes, while I was available on the 16th, my voucher runs out on the 12th. They offered to extend my voucher if I was available and was nothing but friendly after that. I did have a slight concern about doing this, as a reviewer had said that this had happened to them, and the booking was not honoured, but I decided to print our email exchange to take along and be ready for a fight, but this was not needed.
Jade Spa is an Eastern themed spa located very centrally on Chapel Street, a five-minute walk from the Arena and the Printworks. The spa itself is in an unusual location. It is located under a railway bridge, above an LED shop (much to Myke’s delight, as he has a strange obsession with LED lights). They have done absolute wonders with the space they have, and once inside you are immersed in the spa ambience, excusing a train rumbling by every 10 minutes or so. I didn’t feel that this took away from our experience at all, and Myke thought that it was thunder sound effects on the ambient music. However, this would be an issue for some people, so bear this in mind. Since it is above another shop, in the archway of the bridge, space is limited. However, I think that there is more than enough room.
Once you go up the stairs, you are greeted with a curtain. I say greeted, it looked more like a wall since my eyes had not adjusted to the dark from the bright outside, so I had a brief moment where I wondered if someone was playing tricks. However, we went through the door into a small reception area where we were met by a friendly young lady, received some forms to fill in and taken into the next room which is the lounge. Another couple was in here enjoying their afternoon tea on the sofas, so we sat on two very comfortable chairs to fill in our forms.
After writing in the usual details and declaring that I’m currently a post-natal, mildly asthmatic woman, I took in the authentic looking oriental decor before being collected by our therapist and brought into the double room. This room was a little too dark, and my eyes struggled to adjust to my surroundings but were otherwise excellent. We had to put our clothes and belongings in the corner while the therapist left the room. I feel that having the option of using the locker and changing area would have felt a lot more secure and comfortable, but it didn’t become an issue until a different member of staff walked in as we were mid-undress. This was accentuated by the fact that our room was behind the sofa that the other couple was sat on in the lounge, and therefore could have been incredibly embarrassing but no harm was done.
The locker and changing area mentioned above were located next to our room, which we used after this since we had booked in for the optional extra of the thermal spa. This area was lovely, well equipped with brushes and hairdryers, clean and featured very modern lockers that use a bracelet key. My first locker didn’t work, but this was quickly rectified. In this room also was two lovely toilet/changing rooms.
Next to this room was the thermal spa room which again, was nicely decorated and themed, containing a table, two chairs, a shower (with hair and shower gel) and a 3-4 person hot tub. There were other rooms too (treatment rooms I imagine), but we didn’t use any of these so I cannot comment on any of these.
I do think that the spa suffers because of its location, but I also believe that they have done remarkably well with what they have, and that counts for a lot.
Our treatments consisted of a back massage, a facial, a scalp massage, an arm ritual and a foot ritual. We had a therapist each, and they only spoke at the beginning, end, and to ask if the pressure was okay. A lot of people would find this very relaxing. However, I prefer a little interaction, even if just to say what was going on next as a couple of times the change of pace came as a bit of a shock.
The treatments themselves were lovely and well worth the money that we paid. However, the session was supposed to last for 75 minutes and in reality, lasted more like 55. This seems to be a common complaint about the spa and is a little disappointing. Also, it was a little disappointing that Myke’s facial only covered his upper face. I could understand this with bearded individuals, but Myke has very light stubble. While I acknowledge that this may have posed complications, I think a discussion rather than omission would have been preferable.
When I bought the voucher, the afternoon tea section said that there was the option of traditional afternoon tea (sandwiches and cakes) or Chinese dim sum. We would have opted for the dim sum, but we weren’t given the option. The only option we were given was Chinese or English tea (we opted for Chinese since I am not a traditional tea drinker). Having read other reviews for the spa, now suspect that the spa may have stopped offering the dim sum tea. However, none of this was a deal breaker for us though, as this was only a bonus to us.
We were offered the tea in the thermal spa room which added a personal touch for us since it was private, which we accepted. Our tea was served in a teapot with two small cups, and a traditional cake stand offered us two crustless sandwiches (one ham and one egg) each, two scones and two mini rolls. While we did enjoy our food, it was not of high quality (tasted like supermarket shelf cakes). It was all right because it was free, but I would not have been happy paying £12 each which was its given value. It was also not reflective of the promotional photographs they use which show many fairy cakes and biscuits.
We arranged to use the thermal spa after our treatments at the cost of £10 per person as an added extra. I believe if you are paying regular price, you get this included anyway, but since we had a promotional offer, it was extra. I’m happy that we did, as it was a nice wind down after our treatment and being able to use the shower removed all the excess oil from our treatments before we went back to our day in Manchester.
Our payment entitled us to an hours use, and we ate our afternoon tea in the same room, but we were done after around 20 minutes in the actual water. I think that the hot tub itself may be set to be on for approximately 30 minutes as just as we were deciding to get out, the tub turned off. A therapist came in and asked if we wanted her to turn it back on but since we were debating getting out, we said that we were fine. She also offered to turn down the temperature if we were too warm, but again, this wasn’t necessary.
The room naturally gets wet as you walk from the shower to the tub and back again. However it is not a nonslip surface, so could very easily cause an accident and should be addressed at the spa.
The day cost us £95 in total – £75 for the voucher and £20 for the spa. For that price, I’m more than happy with what we received. However, I few would have paid full price I was have been extremely disappointed. When booking a promotion as we did, you should be given the full experience. One tailored to the price you pay sort of defeats the idea. Sadly, it’s pretty clear that this is what is happening. And this is confirmed when you read some of the replies by the management of the spa on Trip Advisor in response to people comments on the quality of the afternoon tea.
Overall I’m very pleased with our experience, but I wouldn’t rush to go back. I wouldn’t like to put anybody else off the experience however as it was delightful. I would, however, like to try elsewhere to see how this experience compares. The spa is not without its faults. The staff being the main flaw I think. Everyone we came into contact with was nothing but friendly and helpful, but there was a severe case of “the left-hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing”. We had got almost entirely dressed again before we were offered robes and slippers for our thermal spa. Then we had to ask for towels as these had been forgotten.
None of these were serious issues but were mistakes that shouldn’t have happened. They also seem to be consistently occurring when reading other people’s experiences. Whoever the primary email handler is, is a little too curt in responses. Text in email is a medium that requires diplomacy since you cannot hear a tone of voice, and I feel that this was very much lacking. As we got ready to leave the spa, a gentleman came to the locker room to try to find a member of staff. He left unsuccessful, as did we, as when we came to leave we could not locate a single person. We, therefore, left our locker bracelets on the reception desk and left.
It is a shame as I had looked forward to the day, and did enjoy it, but I just feel that something is missing. Hopefully, this will be rectified, however, since the spa has great potential.
Have you ever been on a spa day? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments below!