Welcome YB3 – Three of our fav’s each month

Welcome to our new monthly feature, YB3. This section is dedicated to celebrating some of the brilliant businesses we’re lucky enough to work alongside here at YB and giving just a little bit of recognition where we feel is deserved. The only difficult bit is choosing just 3!

This month, we’re kicking off with some beauty and spa reviews. It’s a tough old job, but someone’s gotta do it!

Aptly enough, last week marked National UK Skincare Week 2015, and to help promote the benefits of caring for your skin, we thought we’d roll our sleeves up, tie back our tresses and get right involved.

Here’s our pick of some of the top treatments from some of the region’s most notable beauty and cosmetic spas and salons, as well as some perhaps more hidden gems…

Pampering fit for a Prinny

Nestled just next door to Novotel on Liverpool’s busy Hanover Street is the award-winning Tracey Bell. We were lucky enough to be invited in earlier this month for a surprise treatment, and we jumped at the chance. Here’s what our reporter had to say.

The moment I stepped off the busy street and through the salon doors, I was shown to a seat in the waiting area and soon brought a much needed cup of coffee. The two female staff were all smiles, super friendly and inviting, and after I had filled in my pre-treatment questionnaire I was quickly led from the upstairs reception, down to the ‘clinic’. But there was nothing clinical about it.

The journey downstairs seemed to transport me to another place entirely. Upstairs was a sort of urban-calm, its cool, modern interior still softly abuzz with sounds of the busy street outside. Downstairs though, things were altogether different. Music played softly in perhaps the most luxurious waiting area I’ve ever seen, and no longer had I stepped off the last stair than my phone signal disappeared. I literally felt like I had left the world behind.

A large, lowly-lit room with plush, soft seating lay ahead of me and I was quickly guided through, past the magnificent make-up area with all the glamour of backstage at Fashion Week.

As I flipped my way through some glossy mags and supped my coffee, my therapist quietly invited me to the treatment room. I had been in for a skin consultation a few weeks earlier, and my therapist advised me that my whilst my skin on the whole seemed ok, it did appear a little dull and dehydrated. No surprises. 18 hour days fuelled by 12 black coffees will do that to you!

My therapist suggested a SkinScription facial, which would help to hydrate and rejuvenate the skin. She began by cleansing the skin with an oil-free cleanser – a gorgeously soft, foamy lather and I felt the day melt away with it. Next, a gentle exfoliation and cool, soothing mask before my favourite bit, the facial massage. As we nattered away (those who know me know I’m a talker), my therapist explained that the massage helped to stimulate the skin and facial muscles.  I’m not sure I felt so stimulated as perfectly relaxed as she worked her magic on my tired, thirsty skin.

Finally, she applied a vitamin rich serum and moisturiser, which made my skin feel velvety to the touch.

I was left to relax wrapped in soft, cushiony towels and take in the soothing sounds of the music (which had been playing as we chatted, apparently) before dressing and leaving the treatment room.

My therapist did offer to do my make up for me before I left, though we agreed better to let my skin breathe and feel the benefits of the treatment. Of course I agreed I’d be back again to take her up on her offer!

I was kindly handed a bag full of SkinScription products. This high-tech, cosmeceutical skin care range has been specially developed by Tracey Bell, who claims that her products bridge the gap between cosmetic skin care and pharmaceuticals. I’ve been using the Derma Clean and Derma Skin products daily with my usual moisturiser for just over a month and I’m absolutely in love! I was 18 last I received so many welcome comments on my complexion!

My favourite though has to be the Restimulate serum. Rich in vitamin A, green coconut water and algae extract, it has been designed to stimulate dull or lacklustre skin. I already use a daily serum, so I have used this on the occasion that my skin has felt particularly tired or drained and the effects have been noticeable straight away. It’s my new ‘go to’ product when I need my skin to look its best.

Tracey Bell clinics offer a range of surgical and non-surgical treatments for the face and body. The team have also picked up awards for their innovative dental care, and their new Birkdale clinic has celebrated a busy and successful spring following its launch earlier this year.

For more information on the clinics or treatments, head to http://traceybell.co.uk/

The Social Spa

For something a little bit different, but no less of a treat, head to The Health Place at Blackburne House. Blackburne House is a leading centre for women’s education and houses a number of social enterprises, which help to fund the work that the group do to help disadvantaged women in our community. Each pound spent at Blackburne House, a percentage goes back into the pot to support women’s training and development.

Here’s what our reporter had to say after she spent an afternoon there last month.

As soon as you step through the gate into the grounds of Blackburne House and clap eyes on the beautiful Grade II Listed building, you sort of know you’re in for something a bit special. You can just feel it.

As I sashayed up the imposing steps to the entrance, I’d already started to feel giddy about the afternoon ahead. I was welcomed quickly and led downstairs to the spa, the exotic and warming aromas of the essential oils enticing me more and more with each step I took.

The manager was expecting me and was waiting, robe in hand a smile on her face. It really was one of the warmest welcomes I’ve ever had.

The spa itself was lovely. Small but perfectly formed, spotlessly clean and very well appointed. I was led through to one of the one of the treatment rooms, where my therapist asked me questions about my skincare routine before handing me a questionnaire to fill in. She told me she thought an aromatherapy facial would be the best treatment, which would boost the skin and ease the tensions of the week. Who am I to argue?

The treatment began with a deep cleanse. A cool, soothing lotion enriched with damask rose was massaged into my skin and washed away (along with all my worries) with warm towels. The therapist then used essential oils to massage my face, applying pressure in specific places to enhance relaxation and improve the overall condition of my skin. I’d love to tell you where those points where, but by this time of course, I had completely zoned out.

Next, she applied a serum to tone the skin, benefitting from ingredients including cotton thistle and plant extracts, to nourish and detoxify. Finally, a moisturiser containing lavender and neroli to balance the skin and give it a final shot of hydration. It smelled great too.

The therapist, who had spoken so softly throughout I barely remembered she was there, left me to dress before meeting me back at reception with glass of water. Feeling more relaxed than I had in a long time, I paid and headed to the on-site bistro, where I sipped sleepily on a on a mint tea whilst I waited for my cab. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon.

The Health Place at Blackburne House provide a range of treatments, including holistic therapies and specialist treatments for pregnancy. For more information visit http://www.blackburnehouse.co.uk/health-place/treatments/

Something Special

Having travelled to the tiny, picturesque village of Thornton Hough as a child, I was quick to accept an invitation from Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa last month. Of course it was purely for nostalgia’s sake, and nothing at all to do with the three award wins, triple-rosette restaurant or the new boutique bedroom concept I’d heard so many talking about. Honest!

I drove over to Thornton Hall from Liverpool with a friend. Not the most impressive of journeys through the Mersey Tunnel and I soon descended into email checking and making those few final client calls so I could relax for the weekend. My flow was disrupted though as we approached beautiful Thornton Hough.

It’s a mere ten miles from Liverpool, a stone’s throw really and a couple of train stops, but it feels a million miles away. It is almost nauseatingly quaint, with its small shops and old fashioned post office, traditional pubs, village green and All Saints Church, which stood out against the blue sky backdrop. As we drove through the village towards the hotel I was in my element and couldn’t help but feel a bit like a character from a Richard Curtis film – think Bridget Jones as she is whisked away by Hugh Grant, revelling in the gloriousness that is the Great British countryside.

We arrived at the hotel and both of us were dizzy with excitement. After a long week, month… year for us both, we were due a treat and this, we already knew, was going to deliver.

Once we had checked in, the lovely lady at reception directed us to our room. We were staying in one of the Club bedrooms in a block directly opposite the hotel, that looked from the outside perhaps, a little dated. But we were not to be disappointed, as inside, our room was fabulous. Luxurious, modern furnishings, a well-appointed bathroom (with lovely little miniatures – softening sea lettuce shampoo, if you don’t mind), comfortable and good sized twin beds and excellent tea and coffee facilities. Not to mention super-fast broadband and a decent range of TV channels – we managed to find a music station playing 80s ballads. Winning!

But let’s talk about the spa. Where to begin…?

We changed into loose fitting clothes and headed over to the spa just in time for our treatments, which were just amazing! We both had the same, plumping for the Espa mini-facial. A twenty-five minute pick-me-up that left my skin feeling squeaky clean and completely rehydrated, just the thing for a Friday afternoon, and it left us plenty of time to use the spa’s facilities.

After a quick bite to eat at the spa’s bistro, we were in our one piece before you could say Jackie Robinson! First, we headed to the Jacuzzi. One of two in the spas impressive pool area. Well, it was too soon for a swim, we had just eaten. After a twenty minute soak (ok, half an hour) we headed for the pool, swam some lengths and sneakily joined in with the group of ladies working through an aqua-fit class next to us.

Next, after a brief encounter with the snow cave (yep, that’s a room filled with snow) our bodies sighed with relief as we made our way behind the glass doors into the empty steam room. Like two kids in a sweet shop, we were quickly done with that and it was time for the experience showers. I opted for Caribbean mist, a mix of warm and cool water washed over me as I breathed in the coconutty smell. Bliss.

And, as dusk fell, we both agreed it was time to wind down in the outdoor hydro pool. To our surprise, one of the two tubs was empty as we headed outside and we were quick to claim it, splashing in as quickly as our soon slipper-less feet could take us. We ordered a glass of prosecco (well it’d be rude not to) and looked out across the fields as the sun began to set. Heaven.

Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa offers a range of packages tailored to suit the needs of even the most discerning spa-goer. They are committed to continually updating and improving their offer and you can’t fail to be impressed by the range of facilities, treatments and services.

Look out for our review of The Lawns Restaurant, coming soon.

For more information on Thornton Hall Hotel and Spa, head to http://www.thorntonhallhotel.com/spapackages.html

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