SPA holidays have always left me slightly cold; the word ‘detox’ doesn’t mean much to me and I find it hard to relax when a stranger is kneading my cellulite at close quarters.
So I was surprised to find myself agreeing to go on a spa holiday, even more so to Malta, which I’d only previously associated with sun seekers of a certain age.
It’s no hollow promise: with more than a dozen five-star hotels on an island the size of the Isle of Wight – the majority offering spa treatments – there’s certainly something to shout about.
MTA marketing manager Vicky Williams said: “The price and quality of spa services in Malta is on a par or better than competing destinations.”
This is even more so now the Fortina Spa and Resort has reopened its doors after a £9 million refurbishment to include the largest spa on the island. About 200 treatments are available at four different spas in a separate four-storey building.
The Fortina has the world’s first therapeutic spa bedrooms that resemble something out of an early Woody Allen film.
Having been escorted to mine by one of the hotel staff, the door closed behind me and I squealed with delight. Weirdly positioned in the bedroom was a corner whirlpool bath, complete with twinkling ceiling lights.
More contraptions were found in the huge bathroom, where a therapeutic bath, sauna and Dermalife machine – a body detoxification capsule that resembles the flying egg from Mork and Mindy – were there for the taking.
To top it all off there was a private hot tub on the balcony.
Only an appointment at the Fortina’s Belle Epoque spa stopped me sampling the facilities immediately. I donned my bikini and crossed the pool area to the spa – noticing the Dr Scholl shoe count was high on the sun deck.
With so many treatments on offer even the most sceptical of guests can find something to help them unwind. Holidaymakers can destress in the Spa Sante’s Mediterranean sauna and reflexology basin; undergo thalassotherapy; have Tibetan crystal sound therapy or brave colonic irrigation in the new Hypogeum Spa.
I opted for a less intrusive bergamot oil massage at the Belle Epoque Spa and was led into a Thai-themed room with a vibrating heated massage block. The massage was gentle and afterwards I was served peach tea in the resting area.
Fairly relaxed, and with a renewed taste for pampering, it was time to get to grips with the machinery waiting in my bathroom.
First I tackled the therapeutic bath. Having run the water and added a pungent essential oil, I climbed in and selected programme number two – Exciting. As the jets of water pummelled my skin I just about managed to contain myself.
Selecting other programmes (Heavy Legs and Slimming for Women), it occurred to me they all seemed rather similar.
Somewhat prune-like, I approached the Dermalife machine with caution. It looked hazardous and I was afraid if I got stuck inside I wouldn’t be able to reach the help button on the other side of the room.
I slathered myself with a seaweed serum and climbed inside the capsule, lowering the lid over my head. The machine whirred into action, filling with steam and vibrating to massage my legs and back.
I laughed at how ridiculous I must have looked, but emerged 20 minutes later feeling relaxed and sleepy. Time for bed, then.
On the flight home, just as I was thinking that properties such as the Fortina are what Malta needs to attract a younger crowd, the old man sitting next to me offered me a Werther’s Original. Okay, so perhaps it’s not there yet, but it’s on the right track.
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