Deep in the lush moorland of Northern England, green takes on a new meaning at Titanic Spa, the UK’s first full-service eco spa.
Green and Serene
Pulling up in front of Titanic Spa, I’m a little bewildered. The enormous brick factory building has me wondering if the driver has mistaken the address but when I ask, he just laughs (oh no because he’s assuming I’m another silly American?) and assures me that I’m in the right place.
He’s right, of course. My assumption that an eco-spa housed in an old textile mill would be something quaint and shingled, with a loopy water wheel splashing away, is entirely the result of my overly-romantic imagination (and, quite possibly, too much Tolkien and Wordsworth in my reading past). Located northeast of Manchester along the edge of the Pennines, in the small town of Huddersfield, the posh, environmentally friendly Titanic Spa affords wellness seekers luxury services with a strong eco focus beginning with the building, a truly grand gesture of recycling.
Under the regulation of the Titanic Mill Management Company, the spa’s green operations included Otex Laundry systems, which run on cold water, and a chlorine-free, salt-regulated swimming pool. The company’s 1.5 million pound investment includes contracting with product suppliers who can prove they operate with genuine green practices, a photovoltaic solar energy system, water obtained from a private “bore hole” which taps directly into a pure, local Yorkshire water source, and a heat and power unit that runs on wood chips created from sustainably managed trees. In yet another gesture to all things green, the spa attendants wear bamboo fabric uniforms. But and I admit I can’t resist asking why name the spa after a ship that, quite frankly, doesn’t stir up the most positive associations? Especially with so many water-based treatments on the menu? The receptionist (who doesn’t laugh) explains that the mill was opened in 1911, the same year the ill-fated ship set sail from Southampton. The name was meant to reflect that same awe, experienced by locals when they saw the colossal scale of the riverside mill project. The current owners felt strongly that the name was a vital part of the building’s history, and decided to leave things as they were. Today, it’s close to being entirely carbon neutral.
Despite the age of the building, and the strong holistic operating philosophy, there’s plenty of splash and sparkle. The spaciousness and clean, modern lines indoors evoke a sense of serenity that’s rather unexpected, given the building’s no nonsense exterior. Before my therapy, I was offered tea in the spa Bistro caf©, and then escorted to the spacious changing room. While awaiting my therapist for my facial, to be followed by a signature Titanic Heat Experience, I rested in the Wave Room, fashioned with undulating, curved walls and a woven carpet that resembles a sandy sea floor.
My Aromaplastie Illuminating Facial included an application of balancing aromatic Decleor products from the Paris-based, luxe skincare line. The natural ingredients including sunflower, wheat germ, and linseed oil left my skin feeling supple and well-hydrated. Afterwards, I relocated to the spa’s wet area to begin my heat experience circuit. Based on Roman and other ancient bathing rituals of alternating hot and cold hydrotherapy treatments to stimulate and relax the body’s vital systems, it began with a loosening up session in the Saunarium, a timber chamber featuring a steam infusion, tranquil music, and mood lighting. Next, I moved on to the lavender-scented Aromatherapy room, and then the Crystal Steam Bath. This Turkish-style steam bath was filled with the scent of eucalyptus, which had the added benefit of clearing my breathing passages. Next came a dry Finnish sauna, followed by the Foot Baths, similar to the familiar Kneipp foot baths that alternate hot and cold foot soaks to stimulate circulation and relive achy arches. Ready to cool down, I paid a visit to the Ice Room, where a plaque instructed me to scoop up handfuls of crushed ice and apply them to my face, neck, breasts, stomach, arms and legs.
While the sensation wasn’t one that I particularly enjoyed, the purpose is twofold: to lower body temperature back to normal following the series of heat rooms, and to stress my body’s systems in order to strengthen them. There was also the option of dipping into the cold plunge pool to obtain the same results, but I opted instead for the Experience Showers, which cycled through a warm, gentle tropical rain to a breath-stopping though mercifully brief ice rain and bucket shower.
Post-therapy, I was led to the cozy lounge, where cubicles with thickly quilted wall dividers provide privacy and a buffer from the chatter of other guests. I chose, instead, to nestle into a wide, padded communal crater in front of a virtual fireplace, wrapped in a fuzzy, faux leopard throw. Eventually, I talked myself into abandoning the soft throw, slipping out of my robe, and climbing back into my skirt and boots. It turned out to be more than worth the effort, as I was treated to a delicious lunch in the spa caf©, which included a scrumptious roasted veggie sandwich and fresh tomato soup.
The Titanic mill complex also includes an extensive fitness center, located on The Boat Deck. While a good portion of the building has been converted into modern lofts and flats, there are several guestrooms available for overnight or multi-night spa getaways. Whether you go for an afternoon or a longer stay, be sure to budget some time pre- or post-treatment to relax outside on the large patio built adjacent to the rushing River Colne. Perfectly pitched accompaniment, it’s quite simply eco music at its very best.