The Spa at Carden: Absolutely Fabulous

European Spa visits Carden Park, in Cheshire, to enjoy its gleaming, stand-alone £10 million spa that promises to make guests ‘feel good from the outside in’


By Sarah Camilleri

07 December 2020

The Spa at Carden, located in the heart of Cheshire in north-west England, is fresh and unashamedly hedonistic. Totally focused on luxury and escape in equal measures, the two-storey purpose-built facility covers more than 4,500sqm, which includes an extensive 2,200sqm spa garden that enjoys views over the surrounding countryside.

Designed for celebrations and premium treatments, the spa is the result of a £10 million (€11m) investment by Carden Park’s owners, Steve and Sally Morgan, following many years of detailed planning and research by a team that includes lead general manager Hamish Ferguson, spa director Steve Ewing and a host of spa specialists.

The Spa at Carden is unashamedly a ‘place to be seen’ – its stylish, contemporary interiors and laid-back experiential garden with relaxation pods and all-weather Bollinger Champagne Bar are perfect for guests who want to follow in the footsteps of TV’s Edina and Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous, or those who love Instagram. Unlike at many spas, WiFi is embraced and extends out into the spa garden, where an upbeat Ibiza soundtrack and thermal experiences can be enjoyed all year around.

Carden Park’s spa garden is open to guests all year round

Sparkling strategy

The Spa at Carden’s double-height reception features an impressive living moss wall, a bijoux retail area and a sweeping white Carrara marble staircase, leading guests up to the first floor Elements lounge and restaurant.

“‘Feel good from the outside in’ is our promise to guests and it’s one we carry across every aspect of the spa experience here,” says spa director Steve Ewing. “We have brought the outdoors inside with our concept – reflecting a huge movement in the industry to embrace mindfulness, the feeling and benefits of the outdoors, and a desire to connect with nature.”

For check-in, a customised Ojmar cashless wristband system also allows guests to charge drinks, meals and extra treatments to their band, with a convenient pay kiosk allowing credit card details to be added to the bands before their journey begins. “The setup of the IT system to facilitate a complete customer journey from booking stage to arrival was so important,” explains spa and leisure revenue manager Emma Pridding, who is a UK Spa Association board member and has worked at Carden Park for 23 years.

“So many people love going to Iceland to experience the geysers, hot tubs and being at one with the elements. I thought ‘why can’t we make that experience here in Cheshire?”

Hamish Ferguson

Director and general manager, Carden Park

Design Excellence

The spa’s contemporary interiors, successfully delivered by Barr + Wray’s design team, imbue a relaxing ambience and provide a stylish spa journey that incorporates the natural elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The first floor Elements lounge, with its light oak floors and contemporary teal and moss-green furniture, offers panoramic views of the spa garden below and the golf course beyond.

The spa’s spacious changing rooms are luxuriously finished with gleaming Porcelanosa mosaics in soft golds and creams, and spacious Crown lockers finished in light oak, each offering BC Softwear robes, flip-flops and a handy bag for the day. Smart design detail means parts of the changing rooms can also be discreetly sectioned off to provide privacy for VIP spa groups.

Beyond the changing rooms, a plush carpeted corridor gives guests access to an opulent spiral staircase down to the indoor pool, thermal zone, treatment area and garden.

A central staircase reflects the design’s ‘elemental’ focus

“We needed to shift up the gears from our previous spa offer, so we engaged our product partners to help transform our team – not just as therapists but also as individuals.”

Steve Ewing

Spa Director

Spa al fresco

UK-based Nicki Kurran Spa Consultancy was appointed to achieve operational proficiency and advise on all aspects of the concept. Over the course of two years, principal consultant Nicki Kurran worked in close collaboration with the spa design team, which included Hamish Ferguson, Steve Ewing, Barr + Wray and the main contractor for the project, Pave Aways.

“The Spa at Carden’s tagline ‘feel good from the outside in’ really has been reflected throughout the facility. It’s all about indulgence and relaxation,” explains Kurran. “I think the gardens and the thermal area are outstanding. They offer so much and have been an instant ‘wow’ with our first wave of guests. In the spa garden, larch wood saunas, hydro healing and a beautifully situated fire-pit relaxation area link back to the elements as well as to the selection of Elemental Herbology as our flagship brand.”

On the menu

The spa’s 14 tranquil treatment rooms are kitted out with Living Earth Crafts treatment beds and spa textiles are provided by BC Softwear. Therapist uniforms were supplied by Inline London and the range of highly personalised Elemental Herbology face and body treatments on offer are based on the brand’s Traditional Chinese Medicine-inspired Five Element Theory.

For example, the Garden Therapy at Carden Park signature treatment is a top-to-toe 90-minute experience that incorporates fresh therapeutic herbs from the spa garden. A full body massage using Thai herbal poultices is followed by a nurturing facial. The experience is completed with a glass of Carden Park Estate Reserve sparkling wine from the on-site vineyard in either the deep relax room, the panoramic relaxation room or the nature-themed sensory room.

Other British brands selected include nutri-cosmeceutical brand Oskia, founded by Georgie Cleeve, which specialises in bio-cellular skin nutrition. Organic therapies from Made for Life Organics, founded by Amanda Winwood, complete the menu.

Spa treatments are performed on beds from Living Earth Crafts

Finishing touches

Adjacent to the Elements restaurant, the chic Bollinger Beauty Bar, designed to be a ‘spectacular five-star experience’, offers an elegant menu of premium beauty services from Jessica, Margaret Dabbs, Mii makeup, Lashus and Déesse.

Describing the fixtures and fittings in this area, Nicki Kurran adds: “With the help of Ellisons we sourced three Belava Impact Pedi chairs with custom foot spas. Guests can also upgrade their pedicure with an add-on LED skin rejuvenation treatment and we have three Déesse Pro LED masks to enhance their pedicures. Provided by Harpar Grace in the UK, Déesse Pro LED system offers six LED treatment modes including anti-ageing, purifying, brightening and calming programmes for the skin. Five further masks are available in our treatment rooms for separate treatments and for use as part of our OSKIA Signature facial.”

A guest enjoys the view and premium beauty services in the Bollinger Beauty Bar

Thermal journey

The Spa at Carden offers significant wet spa experiences and thermals designed and supplied by Barr + Wray. With a focus on relaxation and multi-sensory wellbeing, guests can enjoy indoor and outdoor vitality pools complete with stainless steel air recliners and neck and body massage jets.

Adjacent thermal experiences include a salt steam room, featuring a central citrine crystal and starry sky lighting; three experience showers; a tepidarium with overhead cold mist showers providing an instant, gentle cool-down; an aroma steam room featuring healing quartz crystals; and a bio-sauna with ergonomic stepped seating.

Outside in the garden, the central Bollinger Champagne bar is surrounded by three impressive social hot tubs supplied and installed by Rigo Spa, and several futuristic relaxation pods from Ornate Garden, one of which is completely Bollinger branded for parties looking to really dial up their bubbly celebrations.

An individual cooling mist system in the tepidarium provides a stimulating relaxation experience

Spa statistics


+44 1829 731007


Owners: Steve and Sally Morgan

Director and general manager: Hamish Ferguson

Spa director: Steve Ewing

Spa manager: Stephanie Parry

Architect: Dennis Swain, HB Architects

Spa consultancy: Nicki Kurran

Construction: Pave Aways

Interior design: Barr + Wray

Investment: £10 million

Spa size (including garden): 4,500sqm

Treatment rooms: 14

Spa team: 25 therapists plus 30 additional team members across reception, F&B and housekeeping

Suppliers: Barr + Wray, WDT, Sommerhuber, Crown Lockers, BC Softwear, SpaSoft, Ojmar by Simple Locking Solutions, Porcelanosa, Ornate Garden, Inline London, Vive Technologies

Wet spa and thermal experiences: Internal and external vitality pools, salt steam room, tepidarium, aroma steam room, bio-sauna, Finnish sauna and experience showers

Outside: Three hot tubs designed and supplied by Rigo Spa. Garden sauna by Barr + Wray

Product houses: Elemental Herbology, OSKIA, Mii, Margaret Dabbs, Jessica, Made for Life Organics and Déesse Light Therapy Masks by Harpar Grace

Treatment beds and loungers: Living Earth Craft treatment couches and Belava pedicure chairs supplied by Ellisons

“There are many things that make The Spa at Carden unique, but the biggest draw has to be the spa garden and the sheer amount of facilities it can offer all year round…”

Graeme Banks

Design Director, Barr + Wray

Behind the project: Taking an elemental approach

Barr + Wray’s design director, Graeme Banks, discusses the ‘inside out’ approach taken at The Spa at Carden.

“There are many things that make The Spa at Carden unique, but the biggest draw has to be the spa garden and the sheer amount of facilities it can offer all year round. The concept takes inspiration from the grounds of Carden Park and links the spa to the outdoors through every detail: the colour palette, outdoor experiences and all the materials we selected.

“Many spas now take on a similar idea, but here we have also taken on the concept of ‘inside out’ where we give as much to the outside as to the inside. We have used an abundance of natural materials to instil this concept, including timber, limestone mosaics and slate. These elements link the building’s architecture to its interiors, the spa garden and also the treatments offered.

“We didn’t want to go down the route of being too rustic, but wanted to create a more natural, refined and elegant experience. Two of my favourite places in the spa are the central rotunda spiral staircase (below) and the tepidarium.

“The staircase really is the heart of the building and the main highway linking the changing rooms to the experiences and treatments below. You get glimpses of this from the Elements restaurant, so it needed to be a special space of transition.

“The tepidarium is a great room to relax in after enjoying the thermal circuit, but it also has an individual cooling mist system so guests can cool down in a stimulating and relaxing experience. Also our two-tier lounging bio-sauna offers bespoke body-contoured benches with full height views out over the garden.

“Finally, I must highlight the fabulous Bollinger Beauty Bar. The design in here is intentionally different to the rest of the spa as we wanted to bring a little bit more ‘bling’ to the Cheshire countryside.”

“We use SpaSoft, a Springer Miller spa management system, together with our own customised confirmation system with online consultation cards from Vive Technologies and cashless wristbands by Ojmar. We have also developed our retailing so the therapist can capture each and every sale in the treatment room."

Emma Pridding

Spa and Leisure Revenue Manager

The future is cashless

Spa and leisure revenue manager Emma Pridding reveals how integrated IT can create a seamless customer journey.

“We use SpaSoft, a Springer Miller spa management system, together with our own customised confirmation system with online consultation cards from Vive Technologies and cashless wristbands by Ojmar. We have also developed our retailing so the therapist can capture each and every sale in the treatment room.

“These bespoke systems ensure that every revenue stream is captured and made simple, not only for the staff but for the guests using the spa.

“Working with Spasoft, each therapist can access the system from an iPad to check the guest consultation card from the treatment room, ensuring personal information can only be seen by the therapist who is performing the treatment. We also have an online booking system to be able to take reservations even when our phone line is unmanned. This is fully integrated into our main SpaSoft system; the guest books, makes payment and confirmation is sent along with the consultation card.

“Access to different areas, as well as spa capacity control, have also been considered to ensure a luxury experience. We are very mindful of spa capacity and this is set to ensure that only a certain number of guests can access the spa garden and thermal experiences per session, of which we run three daily. We can also cater for large group bookings as well as private hire of the spa.”


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Simple Locking Solutions

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Inline London

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Elemental Herbology

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Margaret Dabbs

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