Center Parcs Aqua Sana Longleat Forest: Celebrating nature

By Mark Smith


By Mark Smith

04 April 2020

The result of an ambitious £6 million refurbishment, we go behind the design of the recently unveiled forest spa concept at Aqua Sana Longleat Forest.

Set deep in the woodlands of Wiltshire, UK, Center Parcs Longleat Forest relaunched its Aqua Sana spa following a successful 18-month programme of refurbishment.

The £6 million [s6.7m] forest spa concept echoes those previously established at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, UK and the recently acclaimed Center Parcs Longford Forest in Ireland.

The innovative design was created by independent creative consultants at Sparcstudio alongside Center Parcs’ development and construction director, Paul Kent. It comprises 24 spa experiences that draw inspiration from nature and the surrounding forest landscape. The redevelopment has resulted in the spa’s footprint increasing by 40% and its attractions are spread across five themed zones: Nordic Forest, Hot Springs, Volcanic Forest, Forest Immersion and Treetop Nesting.

Open-air bathing in the outdoor pool

Designed to take guests on a journey through different aspects of nature by way of multi-sensory experiences, each zone has its own unique, temperature, aesthetic and soundscape. Inspirations range from the ice-cold climate of the Nordic regions to volcanic geothermal landscapes and Japanese mountain onsen.

The spa has 24 treatment rooms, a selection of themed steam rooms and saunas, a heated outdoor pool, an ice cave, reflexology footbaths and several relaxation rooms. The hot tubs in the Hot Springs have proved popular with guests and a garden terrace that looks out to the forest boasts a landscaped area and relaxation loungers.

Deer often pass by the window of the spa’s Nordic Sauna

The Nordic Sauna, which provides views of the woodland setting, where it is sometimes possible to spot passing deer, has become something of a signature experience for the forest spa concept and its distinct look and design is now evocative of Aqua Sana’s ethos.

Unique to Longleat Forest

While some aspects of Center Parcs’ forest spas reflect Aqua Sana’s evolving design principles, two unique experiences have been created at Longleat Forest: the Moonlight Steam Room, a lunar-inspired steam experience; and the Forest Cavern, which has been designed to replicate a cave-like woodland hideaway.

The Forest Cavern reflects the caves found in the surrounding landscape

“We endeavoured to create a light, invigorating environment. Clear views are afforded through the heat experiences into the forest, and these contrast with darker, more softly lit spaces aimed at inducing a more relaxing, meditative state.”

Neil Fairplay

Director, Sparcstudio

The latter is imbued with a special sense of place as the region around the site is well known for its caves, being close to the famous caverns of Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge. Created with a tepidarium-style warmth, the Forest Cavern has six double heated relaxation loungers and a cleverly designed waterfall wall, which offers a gentle, soothing soundscape to calm the senses. The air is lightly scented with an infusion of pomegranate and myrrh to balance mind and body, and Sparcstudio director Neil Fairplay is clearly extremely proud of this special hideaway.

“From the outset, we imagined a double-height cave environment with an opening in the roof, allowing natural light to flood in, with trailing foliage and gentle mists adding to the ambience,” he says. “It’s hard not to be wowed by this experience; I think we’ve really pulled it off.”

Kent is similarly pleased with the realisation of an idea that has not been seen in a UK spa to date. “I’m really proud of the Forest Cavern because it’s something totally unique,” he adds. “We don’t have anything like this at our other spas and there’s a lovely synergy with the local area – the experience was inspired by the caves located throughout Wiltshire and in Somerset. It looks absolutely stunning and I think it will become a firm favourite of our guests.”

“Our forest spa concept has been a huge success at our Sherwood Forest and Longford Forest sites and we wanted to bring that same high quality design and innovative approach to Longleat Forest.”

Paul Kent

Development and Construction Director, Center Parcs
The Vitalé Café Bar continues Aqua Sana’s forest theme

A space for everything

With its footprint now increased, the spa can accommodate up to 125 guests at a time – 175 if you include the Vitalé Café Bar, treatment rooms and outdoor areas. This sense of space and the creation of a clear journey was a major priority for the project, says Fairplay.

“Prior to the refit, there were lots of under-utilised areas and we focused hard on creating a seamless and intuitive guest journey to provide a more comprehensive and complete spa offering,” he explains. “All zones lead off from the exterior central pool, which forms a focal point, and there is a logical circuit that guests can now follow.”

The Vitalé Café Bar also received a £340,000 investment that has completely transformed it with a modern and contemporary look that includes wooden dining furniture, striking lighting displays and artificial foliage that enhances the forest theme. One side of the café has floor-to-ceiling windows facing the forest that flood the space with light and open onto an outdoor dining terrace to seamlessly interlink the inside and outside during warmer months.

Fairplay concurs: “Early indications are that the transformation of the spa has been extremely well received and the experience greatly enhanced. We aimed to create an atmosphere that is fun, refreshing and revitalising, while at the same time calming and relaxing, connecting the internal and external spaces seamlessly and forging a deeper connection between guests and their forest surroundings.”

Pedicures are delivered in the spa’s Sole Therapy room

Spa Statistics

Aqua Sana
Center Parcs Longleat Forest

+ 44 (0) 3448 266205


CEO: Martin Dalby

Development and construction director: Paul Kent

Group spa manager: Kay Pennington

Spa manager: Kadey English

Spa investment: £6 million

Spa size: 2,222 sqm

Treatment rooms: 24

M & E consultant: EP Consultancy

Architecture consultancy: Jackson Design

Structural engineering: Keith Simpson Associates

Quantity surveyor: Edmond Shipway

Main contractor: The Jordon Group

Thermal experiences: Anapos

Mechanical services: AR Services

Electrical services: Oakes UK

Tiling: Porcelanosa and Designworks

Interior and concept design: Sparcstudio

Furniture: Andy Thornton

Green Wall: Bright Green

External works: Haines

Towels: BC Softwear

Treatment beds: Ellisons

Pedicure chairs: Living Earth Crafts

Product partners: Elemis, Decléor, Natural Spa Factory, OPI


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BC Softwear

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