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Chilling out at a North Yorkshire spa
11:20am Tuesday 26th June 2012 in Features
Relaxation is the order of the day at a hideaway spa in the heart of the North Yorkshire countryside, as MAXINE GORDON discovers.
BLISS comes in various guises as The Orange Tree, a relaxation retreat in the heart of Rosedale. A giant hot tub in the garden courtyard offers glorious views over the luscious valley as furious bubbles pummel your back, neck and shoulders.
Then there is the sauna, guaranteed to ease away those aches and pains as the heat penetrates your body.
In the upstairs treatment room, my Zen-like makeover continued with an hour in the capable hands of therapist Sue. She began with a foot slough, unique to The Orange Tree, which involves a vigorous exfoliation of the feet and lower legs, followed by a lovely massage with silky-smooth moisturisers.
Next came a hot-stone massage on my back. Using oils and smooth stones (first gently warmed in a water bath), Sue rubbed away the knots and tightness in my lower back and across my shoulders. The heat from the stones adds another dimension by reaching the deeper trouble spots; I can feel the warmth flood into my body and the tensions beginning to melt away.
I’m almost dropping off as Sue asks me to turn over on to my back for my final treatment – Reiki. Sue explains this is quite a spiritual treatment, telling me how she will channel “energies from beyond the moon and stars” to enhance my relaxation.
I tell her it all sounds a bit bonkers, but she just gives me a confident smile that suggests I am about to be proved wrong.
I close my eyes as Sue sprays aromatic oil in the room then slowly places her hands near and then on my head. She works her way down my body and I feel myself drifting. I’m sure I fall asleep for a moment.
“Don’t worry,” says Sue, in her soft voice. “I’ve had grown men weep for half an hour as I have done this. It’s a fantastic emotional release.”
My hour is up and Sue whispers for me to come round in my own time. “Slowly wiggle your toes and open and close your fists,” she says.
I slowly come round and join my friend Kildip downstairs in the cosy lounge. She had kicked her shoes off and had a snooze on the sofa while I’ve been having my treatments. “It’s so homely here, you feel you can really unwind,” she says, yawning.
The reason for her afternoon nap was the leisurely lunch we enjoyed. Food at the Orange Tree is vegetarian and home-made. We had a tasty and colourful lunch menu featuring mushroom soup, quiche, roasted vegetable pizza and a mix of salads followed by sponge cake, cream and strawberries. We finished with coffee; but wine can also be purchased with meals.
We had come to The Orange Tree for its mid-week spa day, which includes lunch, use of the spa and hot tub and two half-hour treatments for £85.
The Orange Tree also hosts relaxation weekends from £199 and operates as a B&B.
The owner is Edward Harpin, a 33-year-old yoga enthusiast from Huddersfield, who wanted to find a bolthole where people could escape the stresses of everyday life.
The Orange Tree is in a large country cottage, with eight guest rooms that sleep up to 17 people at a time. The décor is cosy and homely; with open fires, squidgy leather sofas and large wooden tables. Guests are asked to bring their own flip-flops, dressing gown and swimming costumes.
“If you like posh spas perhaps you wouldn’t like it here,” says Edward, with typical Yorkshire frankness. “But if you want something more down to earth, more friendly and personal, then this could be the place for you.”
On our hour-long drive back to York, Kildip said the best thing about The Orange Tree was its “home-from-home” feel. We agreed that we didn’t miss the white fluffy towels and robes of a clinical spa – we loved the personal touches at The Orange Tree, from the sublime home-made food, to the unrushed programme and the friendly staff.
Oh, and the giant hot tub, steamy sauna and our melt-away treatments.
• The Orange Tree, Rosedale East, Pickering, North Yorkshire, YO18 8RH Telephone: 01751 417219