Joanna Davis tries out the facilities and a treatment at Poundbury's new luxury spa.


A five star spa experience isn't a bad way to sample a spa for the first time.

I visited the new Monart Spa a few weeks after its opening in the now-buzzing Queen Mother Square in Poundbury. It is located in the urban extension's impressive Royal Pavilion and oozes luxury the moment you walk through the door with its plush and darkly decorated, comforting interior.

The spa is the first UK venture for award-winning Monart Destination Spa, Ireland. Monart is owned by the family-run Griffin Group, headed up by brothers Michael and Liam Anthony Griffin.

My partner and I were booked on to the Monart Rejuvenate half day experience which included full use of the state-of-the-art thermal suite and an 85-minute facial treatment.

Changed into swimwear, a comfortable fluffy bathrobe and slippers, we were amazed to discover that a light spa lunch was included as part of the package. The spa sources produce from local suppliers, including butcher's Brace of Butchers, a stone's throw away, just off Queen Mother Square, Poundbury.

In the comfortable dining area, lavishly decorated with high end furnishings and show-stopping floral arrangements, we enjoyed frittata, smoked salmon, sweet potato and bulga wheat salad with watercress and healthy nuts and pulses. The package includes a hot drink and we sipped some delicious chamomile and orange peel infused tea and an Earl Gray and orange peel infused blend as we prepared to fully immerse ourselves into these luxurious surroundings. If wasn't for the ubiquitous dotting of bathrobes around the room, I'd have thought I was having high tea at the Ritz!

We were assigned a comfy chaise longue lounger base at which we could place our 'essential spa equipment' bag. As we changed in the decadent changing rooms, complete with gold hairdryers and mirrors more befitting Hollywood superstars, I was delighted to see that my sophisticated locker wristband key required a simple swipe and was completely water and steam proof.

Upon entry to the sophisticated thermal suite we eyed up the hydrotherapy pool, an inviting blue lagoon festooned with ironwork sculptures alluding to the nearby Jurassic Coast. It was a delight to swim in and has waterfall cascades, jacuzzi seats and back jet massagers.

We showered off after the pool in the spa's unique experience showers. With modes ranging from Highland Mist to Bermuda Rain, we were instantly transported around the world. The showers have different lighting and scent effects and are a must-try experience.

Spa veterans will love the sauna, which is heated to around 80 degrees, too hot for my liking but a wonderful temperature for penetrating muscle and alleviating stress. And fear not, you can cool down with a polaris ice fountain which produces ice flakes to allow you to cool your core body temperature. The cooler sanarium at 60 degrees is infused with moisture and with twinkly lights much like stars to look at, had a soothing effect. We also visited the aroma steam room, heated to 47 degrees and infused with eucalyptus vapour, perfect for opening pores.

I greatly enjoyed the Himalayan salt grotto, which combines heat and micro-ionised salt particulates to aid breathing and the immune system. I felt like I was breathing in gulps of fresh air from the Alps! We also took time to use the infra red pro room. The in-built sensors scan your body determining the intensity of infra-red heat required to penetrate deep into your back muscles and spinal column. I was relieved to learn that I only required a low intensity of heat!

Next we were taken to our treatment room for facial treatments. This was my first experience of anything like this and I was instantly put at ease by Georgia, who talked me through the process. After 10 to 15 minutes I was in that wonderful ambient zone of zen, as my eyes were given anti-wrinkle treatment and a shoulder and upper back massage – which I was never expecting – took away years of sitting hunched over a desk.

When the 85 minute treatment was over I had no concept of the time or even where I was. Fully immersed in the music, I felt like I was floating on a cloud instead of lying on the comfortable heated bed.

I was taken to the dark relaxation room where I relaxed on a bed and was handed a soothing camomile tea. I felt like I'd had the ultimate, deep, all-encompassing relaxing experience.

To celebrate its opening the spa has a number of introductory offers for treatments and experiences before March 31.


Monart Spa, Royal Pavilion, Queen Mother Square, Poundbury, Dorchester

01305 595000