Health & Beauty

Review: ESPA’s Modern Alchemy rituals

Let’s be honest, we could all do with reduced stress in our life. ESPA’s Modern Alchemy treatments promise relaxation and rejuvenation on a superior level – but do they have that magical touch? Maria Barnett heads to Fairmont St Andrews to find out

Alchemy has taken different forms over the centuries, but it’s always been regarded as a transformative art – ever since ancient Egyptian, Greek and Chinese cultures developed theories around science and mysticism, tried to turn base metals into gold and used chemistry to seek out an elixir that might prolong life. 

The contemporary view of alchemy tends to be geared towards something more spiritual – a balancing of mind and body for better health and happiness. Arriving at the Fairmont St Andrew’s Spa, it would be difficult to argue that the setting – 520 acres of coastal panorama – doesn’t immediately give you a sense of comforting calm.

The spa itself makes unwinding from the stresses of the outside world a breeze (on brand with the bracing coastal cliffs nearby). Any treatments aside, there’s a decent-sized swimming pool to put your feet up next to, cosy relaxation rooms, a sauna, aromatherapy steam room, experience showers and a jacuzzi. 

There was already a fairly extensive ESPA menu at the Fairmont Spa, but the brand’s Modern Alchemy treatments take the holistic approach to wellness to another level. Exclusively offered by the Fairmont within Scotland, the treatments are aimed at seasoned spa-goers who are perhaps looking for an experience that’s a little bit special – something that’s all-encompassing with its physical and mental benefits. 

Seen very much as a 90-minute journey with a deeply meditative approach, spa guests have two choices of rituals: ’harmonising’ for deep relaxation or an ‘empowering’ option for invigorating and revitalising results. Aiming to realign the balance between skin, body and mind, the treatments combine ancient healing practices with powerful, active ingredients. Products that include a mix of herbs, mushrooms, ginger and dried flowers are used alongside a potent blend of aromatherapy oils – ylang ylang, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver and Madagascan clove to name but a few. 

Feeling shattered and in need of an approach that would help me to feel both relaxed and regenerated, I opted for the Harmonising Ritual. Created around the symbolism of the full moon, the experience is designed to tie into the five senses in a transformative way.

A zen foot-bathing ceremony commenced the ritual, before I was presented with a choice of ‘intention’ cards and asked which I felt most drawn to. It turned out to be the card representing growth, and I was given a crystal to complement that thought and hold onto throughout the treatment – coincidentally my birthstone, amethyst. 

The full body massage was otherworldly; it gave me the feeling of being transported to a different realm. Deploying circular movements that were deeply soothing, my therapist used a Kansa wand – a traditional Ayurvedic massage tool – to help calm my nervous system and promote inner tranquility. 

My busy mind feeling significantly quieter, I was given tips on how to expand the treatment experience at home with a personalised plan and wellness card. It’s a nice touch that the self-care ritual doesn’t end with the treatment – your therapist will give you tips on how to best relax and give you a visualisation, whether that’s warming your pyjamas on the radiator or embracing a digital detox by curling up and reading your favourite book.

ESPA’s Modern Alchemy treatments at Fairmont St Andrews are £180 for a 90-minute Harmonising or Empowering Ritual. Head to the spa’s website for more info