Sabrina Lucey is head therapist of the award-winning Cloisters Spa in the Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney. Eight years into her career as a beauty and massage therapist, she’s worked in television for such programmes as Ireland Am and Xposé, and she’s been loving every minute of it.
At Cloisters, she says she’s ‘fortunate to have a team of excellent and experienced therapists, who are all highly trained in all aspects of conventional beauty treatments.” They also are proficient in holistic massage, reflexology and many other alternative treatment, so you’d be spoiled for choice.
I myself was fortunate enough to have experienced a new treatment, the Wilderness Ritual, which featured a full body exfoliation with tailor-made body scrub, followed by full body application of body butter, and a massage using essential oils, administered via sea shells. I am just about crying, looking back on it now.
I chatted with Sabrina about certain aspects of this terrific experience, which totally puts the treat in ‘treatment’.
I know we’re supposed to exfoliate — and believe me, I love it! – but what exactly are the benefits, for face and body?
Simply put, it keeps the skin soft and glowing. Buffing the dead skin away will keep your pores from clogging, which keeps acne under control — both on the face, and on places like the back. It also speeds up your skin’s natural renewal process, and helps your moisturizer penetrate even deeper.
Getting rid of the dead skin cells helps with skin discoloration and unevenly toned skin — and if you keep up a routine, your skin will not only be visibly brighter, you’ll be keeping fine lines and wrinkles in check.
Can you tell me about the scrub and the body butter you used?
In Kerry I wanted to source something local, and met Alice from Skellig Soaps, at a Christmas shopping fair. I wanted an exfoliator that involved our signature scent of Lemongrass and Lavender, and Alice combined these two and created our exclusive scrub.
The oil I use in the seashell massage is her creation as well, and combines Ylang Ylang, Rosewood and Jojoba oil, which is very relaxing on the skin.
And I also know that essential oils are good for us, but don’t know exactly why…?
Essential oils have been proven useful in killing off viruses, bacteria or other pathogens. They are also considered to be powerful anti-oxidents.
They also can act on the mind, as well as the body: when the brain’s limbic system is stimulated, the realeas of neurotransmitters such as pain-reducing encephalin, pleasure-producing endorphins, relaxing serotonin, and stimulating noradrenaline, encourage the body, and also the mind, to chill out!
So, how was it?
My first thought as I descended the long, spiralling staircase down to the spa was, ‘No wonder they keep winning awards.’ If you’re going to set the stage for luxe, ensure that your guests feel like Scarlett O’Hara — albeit in a towelling robe, rather than swathed in the curtains — as they enter your domain.
It is all about relaxation in the thermal suite: that pool is not for laps, something that I always have a grá for, but I was happy enough paddling around for a while. The big draw is the outdoor hot tub: the bubbles were the correct amount of froth and warmth, and as the Blue River lazily wound its way around the back of the spa, l let go of some tension I hadn’t even been aware I’d been holding onto.
There are numerous places to lounge, and a sauna that I highly recommend. That hot tub, though, had my name on it, and I dunked myself back in until it was time for the treatment.
Now. I am am avid exfoliator, and equally as assiduous in applying lotions and potions on the bod. But let me tell you, there is nothing like having someone else do these things for you. The full body exfoliation with the lemongrass and lavender scrub was as thorough and aromatic as it gets — more thorough than I could ever manage for myself. A quick shower to rinse it off feels like it may be a bit harsh on the mellow, but the mellow is fully regained when the application of the body butter ensues.
Then, the shells. I eyed them somewhat dubiously when I arrived in the treatment room, but they are so effective. The shells had been warming throughout the exfoliation/body buttering, and were the perfect temperature by the time it was their turn in the process. They felt pretty spectacular: used to apply pressure to the body, they felt firm but not too hard on the muscles; they worked out several knots that I had been walking around with, and bunch of others I hadn’t known were there.
As always, it was over all too quickly, even though the session is the guts of 90 minutes. Afterwards, I was lead to one of the daybeds in the relaxation area, given a light treat of almonds and a smoothie, and left to breathe deeply under a muslin-canopied day bed. Bliss.
The Wilderness Ritual is €150 for 1 hour and 30 minutes, and includes full body lemongrass exfoliation, Cloisters Body Shea Butter application, followed by an 80 minute warm sea shell massage.
Muckross Park Hotel & Cloisters Spa
Muckross, Killarney, Co. Kerry.
T: +353 (64) 662 3400
F: +353 (64) 663 1965