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Masseria San Domenico – complete with medical spa

Embracing mud and water comes naturally at Masseria San Domenico‘s Thalasso-therapy Spa, a medical spa in the Puglia region of Italy where guests are relaxed, revived and rejuvenated in more ways than one.  You arrive via a winding driveway embraced by wild flowers, olive groves and lemon trees; with the Adriatic behind and an Italian fort ahead, this is pure, quintessential Puglia. Formerly a 17th Century fort, now a five star boutique hotel, Masseria San Domenico  has a large  spa with 22 treatment rooms. As a ‘medical spa’ guests are met by a doctor who designs a personalised programme that ensures guests leaves with a glow to their skin and a skip in their stride. This is a spa of two halves, the upstairs area is dedicated to Thalasso-therapy; downstairs is home to holistic therapies, traditional beauty treatments and fitness.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. Is it just me, or does the thought of being caked up in mud by someone else absolutely horrify you? I’m one of these finicky types who pays for a blow dry after a hair cut but makes a speedy dash home to jump in the shower and cleanse myself of the hairdresser’s efforts (itchy shampoo and hair clippings at the base of my neck) and I suppose to me, this spa principle is the same. I recently visited K Spa at the K West Hotel in London and felt utterly underwhelmed by the dark and dingy ‘mood lighting’, the clumsily apologetic service and the total lack of visible humanity inside. For those of you who ‘indulge’ in expensive, technician-applied beauty treatments as often as you drink tea, please reassure me that it was just my reluctance to share a spa pool with one single, overweight 60-something male that left me with the shivers and that you can genuinely find pleasure in having someone else preen and cleanse you?! I feel I’m missing a trick here…or perhaps it’s the exotic Italian backdrop that I need, rather than the grim and anti-social surroundings of Shepherd’s Bush…

  2. Puglia is a beautiful part of italy, although how much of it you will see on this type of holiday is debatable. but is sounds like a fab get away from it and come back renewed spa!

  3. Sophie i think you may have been going to the wrong type of spas. while an exotic location can help like the royal mirage in dubai or a bit closer to home the sheraton one spa in edinburgh (has a fab roof top jacuzzi with views of edinburgh skyline)the service of the spa staff and your choice of treatments can have a huge bearing on your level of enjoyment.

    i have to admit i am not always a fan of mud slapping treatments and i think the british reserve can also hamper our enjoyment but a fabulous massage or facial can really hit the spot and a great atmosphere in the place is essential. i wish you better spa luck in the future!

  4. Sophie, I totally agree with you. I also dislike this sort of thing. However, I did give it a try back in 2003, at the Ashok Hotel in New Delhi’s Chanakyapuri area.

    This is what I wrote about it after the event:

    I went to get my hair cut this morning, and coincidentally met a friend in the beauty salon. She had just had a facial and said how wonderfully relaxing it was, and she certainly looked great. So I thought I’d treat myself. I’ve never had one before and told the beauty assistant that this was the first time for me so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

    First, she asked me did I want this funny name facial or that funny name facial. I said I didn’t know because I’d never had one before.

    She said, “OK we’ll do the this funny name facial because it’s good for wrinkles.”

    “Gee, thanks” I said.

    So, off she starts blatting lotions and potions onto my face and pummelling it about. This is all taking place with me lying on a bed-thing in a tiny darkened room.

    Next, she covers my eyes with cotton wool and blats some some sticky stuff onto my face. And then wraps my head in tin foil! I can hardly breathe. Then I hear her leaving the room. Meanwhile not a word about how long I am expected to lie there like an oven ready turkey.

    It’s very uncomfortable so I start to try to loosen the tinfoil but it’s stuck to the gunk on my face. I start to feel like I’ve been buried alive. My imagination runs wild and I decide that I’d really rather not go through with this. After all I did it because I thought it would be relaxing – not because I expected to be beautiful.

    So I call “hello”, several times.


    Eventually I had to yell: “Can somebody please help me!” and two people came running. It was all a bit embarrassing.

    Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be having another facial.

  5. I have to admit, as a guy I was very anti-spa( besides massages). Lately, my better half has gotten me to get pedicures and facials, and I love them. Can’t stop going back! The only thing I dont like is when they try to upsell you on all the products.

  6. I’m sure it’s OK if the staff are properly trained but I suspect that a lot of them aren’t and haven’t a clue how to treat their customers properly. I think you need a word-of-mouth recommendation about the quality of service. There again, I had that just before my truly horrible experience.

    I know what you mean about the upselling, and sometimes they completely lack any tact – the wrinkles thing being a case in point. I don’t have any more or fewer wrinkles than most people of around the same age but the last time I bought perfumed body spray (Clarins)the shop assistant put the hard sell on me to buy anti-wrinkle cream as well. It could have been very embarrassing as I was with my toy boy at the time. Fortunately he’s also my husband of almost fifteen years, so we could just laugh about it. But I wasn’t very amused.

  7. I have wanted to try a mud spread, but I am not too sure how that would feel once dried. I would be like Kay and start freaking out if I could not move.

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