My personal experiences of the luxury of a spa visit have been few and far between and to be honest, a little scary.

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I had a weekend break at Ragdale Hall, where the food was sparse, the treatments were regimental and the alcohol was non-existent (except for the illegal stash we kept on the outside window ledge of our room). I had a massage in Turkey, where the scary, hairy woman tried to pry the flesh off my bones and drown me in soapsuds. And a massage in Thailand, where the tiny (yes even smaller than me!) masseuse was clearly more interested in “massaging” my husband than she was in me. Perhaps that’s why she twisted my arms round my neck and ran repeatedly up and down my spine.

So, my expectations were low and my fear level was high when I booked for myself, my mother-in-law (Helga) and my sister-in-law (Julie) to have a day at the spa.

I chose the Thalasso Centre next to the Thalasia hotel in San Pedro Del Pinatar. Their website really doesn’t do justice to their location and facilities. They have 34ºC seawater pools with different underwater massages, jacuzzis, waterbeds, cascades, etc. You can enjoy the “marine circuit” with wet and dry saunas, bithermal showers, the ice cave or the relaxation pool. Or have a treatment in one of the 40 individual rooms for beauty, aesthetic and physiotherapy programmes.

You can download a brochure of therapies, which runs to 8 or so pages of closely typed weird sounding torture treatments. Some gems include: masaje drenante linfático, hidrocinesiterapia and sustrato vegetal.

Or for those of you with a larger budget and who like to wear your chocolate, rather than eat it, you can have a “Chocolat Massage”. Or why not try “Extracto de Caviar” or “Ceremonia Gold” (they really do use gold leaf!). And of course there’s the “Vinoterapia”, where for the price of 20 good bottles of Casa de la Ermita, you can have a bath in wine. Me, I prefer drinking the stuff!

The best bet is to go for a package of treatments – a “programa”. This will save you money and reduce the difficulty of deciding which treatments to have.

We chose Thalassoreumotológico, where for 3 hours and just 45 euros each we got to play in the pools, have a “limo corporal” and a “hidromasaje marino”.

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I suppose the “limo” is what most people associate with the spas of the Mar Menor – the mud! I was really looking forward to getting dirty and rolling around in the stuff. But it’s a much more civilised affair than I was expecting, unless of course you don’t enjoy getting virtually naked in front of a person you’ve never met before, wearing paper knickers and then having hot mud plopped on your joints and finally being wrapped in a paper blanket.

Really it’s much more fun than it sounds and the darkness in the room saves your blushes. The mud has no odour and is really fine and silty and makes great farty sounds when you move around!

The hidromasaje was lovely too. You get your own room, with a big waterbed (like the suspended animation capsules in the film Alien, but without a cat or alien), candles, soft music and a ½ hour of floating around in bubbles. At first I couldn’t relax I was waiting for something exciting to happen, then I think I fell asleep.

In between treatments we sat on the terrace of the café and had some refreshing water (and a little wine!) and looked at the view. You’re right in the natural park and can see the whole of the Mar Menor, salt plains and hundreds of birds. We didn’t see any flamingos but I’m sure if you’re lucky you will.

Then after all of that pampering we met the men at Restaurante Ramón in Los Alcázares and enjoyed a superb lunch.

1. Don’t worry about what you look like in a bikini (bikinis aren’t mandatory, well not for men anyway!) – no one else is looking, everyone is too busy enjoying the “bienestar” (well being) of the place.
2. Take a robe or hire one. It’s nice to wander around and enjoy the facilities without worrying about flashing your wobbly bits.
3. You must wear indoor pool shoes and a bathing cap. You can buy these at the spa for a reasonable price.
4. The changing area is mixed sex, there are cubicles but take care when wandering around you never know who you might bump into naked (probably my mother-in-law).
So overall, did I enjoy it? Yes, it was a super way to spend a Saturday morning with my family. The atmosphere is relaxed, the prices were good, the facilities are excellent and the staff friendly. All in all a good day out.

Chocolate Cake - yummy

I never did find where they stored the chocolate though!

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