My partner and I received an English Lakes voucher at Christmas, redeemable against one of their five hotels. Looking through the list we noticed Low Wood Bay Resort & Hotel… it was a no brainer. We’d been hoping to book a spa break to unwind after a busy few months, and having passed Low Wood Bay numerous times and hearing great things about the new spa, I was quick to visit their website to find out more.
Research and Booking
The website wasn’t going to make this an easy booking. All we wanted was a 1 night hotel stay, breakfast included, spa access and a massage. Instead we were presented with page after page after page of packages that all seemed pretty much the same with minor differences. Why not have them all in one place to make it easier for the customer? Or a search engine that filters down the options?
Anyway, being my impatient self, I decided to phone up to get a price for exactly what we wanted. I’d rehearsed in my head what I was going to say and started to ramble on… to be told I needed to speak to the spa reception. So I was transferred, spoke to the spa and received all the information I needed to then be told I had to go back to the hotel reception to find out hotel prices. WHAT?! I couldn’t help but feel I was being passed from pillar to post, why couldn’t they communicate with one another instead? It would have saved me the hassle of repeating myself, being passed around and waiting on hold numerous times!
Getting There and Arrival
The resort was easy to find, we were driving up from Bowness and took two straight roads alongside the lake pretty much the whole way there.
After turning off the main road and heading up the hill towards the resort, we were greeted by a security guard who asked our reasons for visiting (hotel, spa, restaurant etc.) and told us where to park and where to head afterwards. Given the size of this place, it was nice to be given directions and it was reassuring that they took guest safety seriously.
The walk down to the entrance was surrounded with water features and lots of plants, it aligned perfectly with the location and gave a real sense of The Lake District.
The entrance/common area that links the hotel and spa was an ideal place to meet up, relax, admire the views and grab a quick bite to eat.
Too early to check-in, we dropped our bags off at reception and went straight to the spa to start our experience. We were welcomed immediately and given our robes and passes, followed by an orientation of the spa.
Environment and Atmosphere – The spa
The spa didn’t disappoint. The facilities were refreshing and relaxing with a combination of warm tones and natural daylight overlooking Lake Windermere. The only downfall to add is the main road that sits in-between the spa and the lake. Though traffic can’t be heard inside, it does ever so slightly take away from the ‘secluded’ vibe you experience when entering the spa.
In the relaxation room, waterproof loungers and hanging pods filled the space with a fire pit as the central feature to create a cosy and peaceful atmosphere. A display of fruit juices, flavoured waters, cakes and biscuits were a nice, simple touch and made us not want to leave!
The indoor thermal journey included a coconut steam room, dry salt sauna, herbal lounge, thermal pool and jacuzzi. There was a small group of couples splashing around and being loud, but once they left, we started to unwind.
New to 2019, The outdoor facilities were accessible by all hotel guests and a little overcrowded. We didn’t get chance to try the outdoor jacuzzi because others simply wouldn’t get out! Though the infinity pool did have an impressive view over Lake Windermere and was a perfect spot for sunset.
Environment and Atmosphere – The hotel
The hotel entrance felt very traditional with dark wood features, high ceilings and large open spaces. Once given our room number, we proceeded through the maze of corridors to find that the décor all of a sudden switched from traditional tones to that of a clinical ward… light blue and grey walls, bright lighting and dark grey office-like carpet.
The following morning, we struggled to find the breakfast room as we weren’t told when checking in. But we followed the crowd… and smells. I’m not a massive morning eater but I was surprised by the amount of choice and grabbed a plate of everything! A Full English of course, and a few small side plates from the continental selection.
The room had everything we needed for a night’s stay but felt very ‘chainy’. There was nothing about the room that shouted 4* resort though there were a few small touches that some would appreciate:
- A teddy and note with details of the room
- A welcome letter with information of the resort facilities
- A toiletry bag to take home, a souvenir from your stay
There was a chilled bottle of prosecco in the room when we arrived, no note, so we weren’t sure if it was included in our spa package or an add-on. We phoned reception to ask and were told it comes at a cost, so we decided to leave it, save ourselves £30 and go to the shop.
A couple of days later we found out that Liam’s parents had paid for the bottle and asked the hotel to leave a note but nothing was left to indicate it was a gift. Though initial impressions were good, I now can’t help but feel the hotel staff didn’t have a clue and let us down!
Even though there appeared to be only one member of staff checking out guests, it was a smooth and easy process. The receptionist asked us what our plans for the day were and made some local suggestions.
It’s a place to come as you are. No rush, No fuss. Ponder the beauty of the outdoors, indoors.
Take a journey in a few steps. A moment that captures a memory for life.
Relaxed, yet revitalised. Do something, but nothing. Here everything is possible.
The spa experience was difficult to fault unlike the hotel. After leaving, I wondered what our experience would have been like if we would have stayed in the newly built, Winander Club on resort that offers a ‘personalised service as well as a private bar and breakfast area with an inspirational view of the Lake’… regardless, shouldn’t all guests be treated with a similar standard of service, no matter the price they pay?
The English Lakes website refers to ‘delivering outstanding service and care to our guests’, so it is that you expect across every aspect of the resort but for us that service didn’t continue past the spa itself.
Are both teams working towards the same vision or are they operating in silos? From my experience I would expect the latter. That’s not to say the hotel staff were rude or unpleasant, but there was a clear lack of communication between both teams, and even within the hotel team itself. Guest satisfaction and experience didn’t feel like a priority which contrasted with the spa. Nobody cared to check the system to see if the prosecco in our room had been paid for, leave a note or look into the matter further. It seems like such a small thing to fuss over, but let me tell you, we wanted that prosecco.
Douglas Dale, Operations Director, said in an interview this year that “Guest expectations have grown and, I’m sure, will continue to do so”. Yes, yes they have! Guests expect a seamless experience from beginning to end. As is evident from my experience, we remember the bad things more than the good because as consumers, our expectations are higher than ever!