Donostia/San Sebastián Basque country.

Sebastian is a bucket list travel destination. If you’re into food, wine and scenery San Sebastian has it all and it’s been a popular destination for recuperation and beach holidays since the early 1900’s.

San Sebastian has an average rainfall of 222 days a year, which makes it understandable why La Perla Beach Pavilion was built for visitors and locals to enjoy the water and spa facilities in all weather.

Built in 1912 on the beach, literally rising out of the sand as if it were an elaborate sand castle, La Perla Talaso is a stately beach pavilion building on the shores of one of San Sebastian beach. Royal Queens spent months convalescing here and returned each summer to spend time in this picturesque area of Basque country for health and relaxation.

What goes on in a 1900’s beach pavilion in San Sebastian?

La Perla beach pavilion is a dignified, well kept beach Pavilion facility focused on health and fitness which encompasses a day spa, swimming pool and talaso therapy, which means medicinal use of seawater as a form of therapy and involves hot and cold water pools where some pools also have jets of water.

When I visited La Perla, unfortunately the swimming pool and most of the talaso therapy area was closed for renovations however it looked traditionally 1900’s style, which was well kept and very impressive.

The day spa La Perla Saud Estetica  in Spanish means, cheers and/or used to refer to good health as in Buena salud: good health. Estetica means the study or place of beauty and it was open. I was excited to experience some spa treatments from this region as I am always searching for spa ideas to introduce to ikatan Spa Noosa.

First impressions of La Perla Saud Estetica Ocean Day Spa.

La Perla Day Spa was exactly as the name suggested and understandably about the ocean, sea, sand and any thing that mentioned waves or water. One disappointing aspect was that the day spa was underground therefore no view of the beautiful beach it was designed around. I often find day spas are built in the worst areas of a building.

Apart from the waft of chlorine from the pool areas as we walked down the stairs to the spa, the treatment rooms were quiet and the aroma of essential oils was in the air throughout the change rooms and reception of this large underground labyrinth of hallways, doors and rooms.

The products used in the spa treatments were Thalgo and Spanish brand Natura Bisse and while I have worked with Thalgo, which is the perfect choice for a water themed day spa, I had read great things about the Spanish brand Natura Bliss but had not tried them.

I like to book spa treatments I have never experienced before.

On arrival at La Perla spa reception we were show to the change rooms to put on the proverbial white spa bathrobe, which are always one size fits no one and this robe was so heavy I felt like I was piggy backing someone down the hallway to the waiting room.

I dislike wearing bathrobes in public spaces and I despise how they don’t fit or cover people properly, it’s embarrassing and an uncomfortable start to a relaxing experience.

The robes are way to big for me and yet my husband who is a tall, well built man looks like he is wearing my clothes! The robe gapes open if he sits down, so he usually has to stand up, which is not conducive to comfort or relaxation.

ikatan stretch underwear or ill fitting paper pants

Under the robe is the ill-fitting disposable undies that seem to have two backsides and the smallest leg holes. This makes me feel like I am wearing granny bloomers from the 1900’s, maybe it’s part of the theme, but no, lots of day spas buy these bulk, cheap hideous underwear.

Day spas should give guest comfortable disposable underwear, it’s important for us to give ikatan spa guests appropriate stretch, boy leg disposable underwear for spa treatments. Our guests love them so much they wear them home and buy them from ikatan Spa to wear on long haul flights.

Communication charades about a spa treatment.

There are no client history details required prior to treatments at la Perla and I’m wondering how I am going to let my therapists know I have a back problem. My Spanish vocabulary is limited and a the few words I know only relate to ordering a wine, shopping prices or directions to the bathroom, so how will my therapist know I have a back problem?

Luckily my Therapists understands my Spanish greeting of ‘Hola’ as we are taken to our separate treatment rooms, but now she thinks I speak Spanish! Once in the treatment room the game of charades to explain my minor back issue seems to be understood.

Before me is a bed set up for my Polynesian Sandbag Massage with what looks like plastic blue heat packs at intervals along the bed and on the bench sits some cloth filled sand bags the size of a tennis ball, of course I squish them when the Therapist leaves the room, we know clients do this.

Polynesian sandbag massage in San Sebastian.

I lay on the bed and the warm bags feel nice but the one under my tummy makes it wobble, is that me or is it all the wine and food? As the Therapists starts the treatment she sprinkles sand over my skin then applies oil over the sand creating an exfoliation which is massages in a learnt, set pattern to replicate the waves washing on to the shore came to mind.

The sand is then brushed off, unsuccessfully; as you would brush yourself down to remove sand after being at the beach. Next the sand bags are used like a heated ball as the therapists rotates them awkwardly over my body which doesn’t achieve a lot but feels nice a warm.

The massage to my head, neck and shoulders finishes with some sand bag work around my neck area, this was my favourite part of the treatment and a nice way to finish.

I went to the beach on a spa treatment bed.

I give this Polynesian Sandbag Massage ten points for imagination but two points for effectiveness as there were far too many gimmicky aspects for it to be a of any benefit, but I got the concept of making me feel like I had been to the beach without going there. Though this concept didn’t really work as a spa treatment, it was a fun experience for a day spa owner but I would not recommend this treatment for a paying client wanting results.

South pacific spa treatments in a Basque 1900’s beach pavilion.

My husband enjoyed his Massage but we both thought it strange to have Polynesian treatments at a 1900’s day spa in San Sebastian.

Over lunch at the La Perla Beach Pavilion restaurant overlooking the beach we discussed and creatively invented spa treatments that would really embrace the history of San Sebastian, the spectacular beach area before us and show case the Basque culture rather than offer south pacific spa treatments in a cool, wet climate on the west coast of Spain in a grand beach pavilion.

We enjoyed the experience at La Perla and hope to return to San Sebastian where I will book the Natura Bisse facial and enjoy the Talaso therapy and I would recommend you do too if you ever go to San Sebastian.

I am always interested in other day spas and their treatments and sometimes it make me realise how loved our authentic our Balinese treatments at ikatan are and that we don’t have to have new treatments just the same great ones done exceptionally well.

We won’t be introducing a Polynesian Sandbag Massage to ikatan Spa, even though Noosa beaches are only a few minutes from ikatan Spa.

I am a paying guest at all day spas I review as Day Spa Oracle and the spas I visit are not aware of who I am, what I do or where I come from. I hope this helps you select day spas and treatments when you travel to the same places I do.

Experiences, it’s how we get to know others and ourselves.