Irish Times – March 2005

Lolling Around in Glorious Mud

We felt like postulants as we walked through the peaceful spa in our white robes and slippers, soft ambient music lapping over us, soothing hands guiding us. My visit to the Wells at Brooklodge Hotel in Co. Wicklow as like stepping into a parallel universe. O, to go back for some more extra sensory experiences.

My sister and I began by stepping into a private mud chamber. We were left to cover ourselves in brown and white mud (the white mud goes on the delicate parts of the body like the face and the brown is for the rest).

This is part of the Serail treatment (costing €80 for two for one hour). As well as the mud, the mix includes chalk, cleansing salts and mineral oils.

Then, nude and painted like prehistoric creatures, we locked the outer door and entered the mud sauna. Sitting gingerly opposite each other, we waited for the steam and the mud to react. We grinned at each other and the relaxation began.

The hour passed pleasantly as we swivelled on the tiled seats in the mud, watching the tiny disco lights overhead glow in the steam. We chatted in the warm room filled with the scent of herbs. These are said to help cleans the skin and accelerate toxin removal.

We completed the treatment with warm showers. Then we entered the cloistered realm again with other robed figures floated by, disappearing into rooms for additional treatments.

Are you booked in for a facial?, the therapist asked. "Mmmm" I said, wondering if I should sit on the white couch in the relaxation area for a while, or maybe not. It’s one of the dilemmas that visitors to the spa must confront. To pause, or not to pause. Everything slows down. The concept of time seems to evaporate. The pampering continued.

We dined like queens, we slept like Rip Van Winkles and we rose the next refreshed and re-invigorated. And then, sadly, we left, glowing and floating and wondering when we could return for more massage, mud and mummification in towels and creams.

One night's B&B at the Wells, arriving at 3.00pm with 1 evening meal, plus three treatments, a skin consultation and light lunch the next day, costs €295 per person sharing.