How Town players were pampered

IPSWICH Town's drained squad have been recharging their batteries at a plush spa after a glut of crucial games.

IPSWICH Town's drained squad have been recharging their batteries at a plush spa after a glut of crucial games.

To find out just what the players were being treated to, The Evening Star sent reporter JOSH WARWICK to enjoy a bit of pampering.

IT was one of the stranger challenges I have undertaken as a journalist.

The call came on Saturday night. “Josh, we need you to get down to Northamptonshire and spend the night in a hotel,” the boss told me. “Have a facial and a massage - really pamper yourself.”

Okay, I thought. Sounds good.

So, with the Mrs in tow, I caught the train to Northampton and then took a 15-minute cab ride to the sumptuous Whittlebury Hall, situated deep in the leafy countryside.

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My task was to discover what Jim Magilton and his team would be enjoying on their mini-break, taken to recuperate after an achingly busy schedule of games.

Whittlebury Hall states its intentions from the moment you step into the grand reception area. Friendly staff set the tone, as does the sparkling decor.

We arrived a couple of hours before the players, so, after checking in to our room, we slipped into our provided bath robes, slippers and trunks and headed for the enticing spa.

The warm waters of the hydrotherapy pool are utterly relaxing, and with a number of specialist treatment rooms spanning the spa's walls, there was enough to keep us occupied for hours.

The hotel calls the area the heat and ice experience, with saunas next to an ice cave - which was certainly not for the feint of heart.

Although a little nervous about indulging in a treatment, I decided to enjoy a full body massage. I only had to wait for 15 minutes after booking my appointment before I was escorted into a peaceful and dimly-lit massage room.

Having never had a massage before, and feeling my masculinity drain away, I couldn't help but feel trepidation.

But as soon as the treatment began, relaxation flowed through me.

For those who have never enjoyed a massage, you don't know what you are missing. I think I may have slipped into a coma, I was so calm. And 30 minutes passed by in an instant. Indeed, the only downer was that it had to end.

Feeling better than I ever, I headed to the large pool, where I took the occasional dip, laid on the loungers and enjoyed a beer.

We paid £89 each for our double room and use of the spa.

Each of the hotel's 211 bedrooms are huge, and come complete with en suite bathrooms and flat screen televisions.

While we didn't have a view, those lucky enough to stay in the south facing rooms can gaze over a mouth-watering vista.

Also included as part of our stay were three magnificent meals, which can be enjoyed on the pool terrace or in the more formal dining room.

There is even a fine dining restaurant, called Murray's, which has been awarded two AA Rosettes and blends excellent cuisine with vintage wines in an intimate setting.

The ethos of Whittlebury Hall is about relaxation, with carefully planned colour schemes, lighting and music adding to the ambience.

Laura Blake is the spa's senior assistant manager.

She said a number of famous faces use the spa, including pop stars Take That and Formula One drivers who are racing at nearby Silverstone.

"We have sports teams who come back to us time and time again," she said. "It's enjoyable and helps them to relax.

"But everyone who comes to Whittlebury Hall receives the same excellent standard of treatment, no matter who they are.

"It's all about relaxation. We offer a huge range and it's all very hands on. Our care is professional and award-winning and all our staff have the very highest of standards.

"We have friends getting together who come and stay, hen parties, groups of men, and individuals who just want to get away."

The spa boasts 65 staff and 22 treatment rooms.

Among those making the most of the facilities was Ipswich Town midfielder, Sylvain Legwinski.

The popular Frenchman looked the picture of contentment as he enjoyed the spa and various treatments during his stay.

Other players, including Alan Lee, joined manager Magilton and first team coach Brian Klug on the excellent golf course, which runs adjacent to the hotel.

Whittlebury Hall also offers the chance of a work out in its extensive health and fitness leisure club.

Among those enjoying a mini-break was Judy Smith, from Ipswich. She said: "I have come away with friends for two nights and it's been wonderful.

"I didn't realise the Ipswich team was here - but if they enjoy themselves as much as I have, they'll have a lovely time."

After 24 hours, my time was up. Reluctantly, I settled my bar bill - which was significantly lower than it should have been thanks to the generosity of Magilton and co. - and headed home, relaxed and refreshed.

Hopefully, Ipswich are feeling the benefits, too.

What's on offer?

Aromatherapy crystal stream


Experience showers

Foot spas

Hydrotherapy pool

Ice cave

Roman salt stream