I love going for a massage and taking some time out to relax at a spa. My lesson has been learnt that the spas and massages featured on group buying sites are never up to scratch. Camelot Spa is one of those places that has been on my spa wish list since forever. I stopped by the Villa d’Este branch situated on Jan Smuts to try out both their massage and spa package on two different occasions.
Stepping into a courtyard filled with statues, trees and ponds you can’t be blamed for feeling transported to a Roman medieval time. Since the property is located on a heritage site the building structure cannot be changed. The décor inside is opulent and luxurious without being over the top. I found it a suprising stark contrast to the tranquility and beauty present outside. It is a pity that the spa is located on beautiful grounds that is unutilized.
Before my treatment I was given a digestive tea and lindt chocolate. I thought it strange that this was provided before the treatment and not after. Drinking tea before you have had the opportunity to change into a gown does not integrate into the spa experience. Tea would have been more pleasant served in the beautiful surroundings outside or in a more relaxing room as this felt stuffy.
On my second visit the therapists lacked hospitability and we were more or less left to do our own thing. You have to ask to go change or use the spa facilities and nobody makes an attempt to call you when it’s time for your treatment. While I don’t like being sheparded around, I do like a sense of purpose and care without it being overbearing. Less waiting time to get changed and therapists letting you know that they would be back to fetch you after an allocated time are small things that can be done to improve the experience.
The spa facilities include a flotation pool, Rasul chamber with twinkling LED light roof, Roman vitality pool and hydrobaths. I was not impressed with the facilities. The steam room felt dirty, the pool was out of order, the rasul chamber and hydrobath was not shown to us. The idea of the flotation pool is to mimic the Dead Sea. You need to shower after using it as the salt from the water sticks to your body. The pool is very small in size with barely enough space for one person. Foul smelling water due to the Epsom salts and dead bugs from not being emptied regularly makes this a miss. The steam room is tiled and doesn’t have the nice feel that a wooden one has. It is also located outside from the main building which you have to trek your way to.
Like most luxury spas there are lockers to store your clothes and valuables in. Each locker has a gown, pair of slippers and towel for your use. I loved that the tiles are heated in the change room. The laundry however is not up to scratch with the towels and gowns having an unpleasant smell and greasy touch to them as though they haven’t been dried properly. I am not entirely convinced that the towels on the massage beds have been changed after each use either. There is only one towel provided in your locker, it would however be nice if there was a supply of towels in the locker room to use especially if you will be using the facilities.
I opted for the Camelot Universal Signature Massage (R550) the first time. The massage is a combination of hot stone, Kahuna, Balinese, and Indian head massage done with a unique massage candle. I have to say this was the best massage I have ever had technique wise. My massage therapist Nokwanda was very friendly and the whole experience was amazing. While the massages here might be more expensive than other places I believe it’s worth the extra money for a better massage and experience. This was one of the few places I got a massage that was close to an hour vs the 45/50min everywhere else.
On my second visit with the family we opted for the Ultimate Event Spa-Ty consisting of a massage, Indian head massage and facial (R4800 for 4 people). This package only provides a small saving of R80 pp versus paying for the components separately. If there are any of the treatments you don’t fancy in the package it is better to pay for treatments you do want separately. The signature massage already contains a short Indian head massage so I don’t think it should be coupled with a 30 min Indian head massage as well. I loved my massage again the second time around but I hated the Indian head massage. The therapist tangled and pulled my hair and the duration was also closer to 15 min than 30 min. The real horror was when I got home to wash my hair; it took 3 hours, 3 different shampoos and sunlight soap to wash the oil out of my hair. I have never had this happen before and I was seriously pissed off. I suspect castor oil was used which left my hair hard and sticky.
The facial didn’t make a difference to my skin and the products used made my skin burn. The products applied were a cleansing gel, cleansing gel scrub, toner, scrub, mask and lastly moisturiser with the facial steamer on during the early application stages. This is not worth the price (R450); rather get a professional facial done elsewhere.
Our spa snack at the end of the session was a stodgy inedible piece of red velvet cake served on plates that reeked of dampness and nothing provided to drink. To end the experience we were each given complimentary bath salts to take home. What I found lacking was that water and glassses to rehydrate was only provided in the tea room and not around the spa.
An extensive menu is available consisting of breakfast, salad, pasta and sandwich options as well as a High Tea. Spa options include a variety of massages and facials, body wraps, spa packages, beauty treatments and hydrotherapy.
On my first visit of just a massage I didn’t notice the little flaws except the linen. I had high hopes for the spa package but the cleanliness, snacks and spa facilities were the let downs in the experience. I would recommend visiting Camelot just for a massage. The technique is the best I have encountered and I can feel the toxins released from my body over the week following it. Whilst I felt more relaxed after the longer package I didn’t enjoy the other treatments or think it was worth the price. A big difference with spas in suburban areas is that treatments are done inside vs in a tranquil outdoor setting. These surburban spas are best suited for a quick massage and outdoor spas for full day packages.
Ring: (011) 646 – 5152
Hop: Ville d’Este, 82 Jan Smuts Avenue
Massages & Spas,