What does a supermodel bound for the marital aisle do in her final hours of freedom? If her name is Kate Moss, she makes a run for Britain’s Isle of Wight. Ms. Moss held her hen party here, famously crossing over on the Red Funnel Ferry with three pink stretch Hummers carrying 30 women including Jade Jagger, Sadie Frost, Samantha Morton and Daphne Guinness – a far cry from the staid and stoic solitude Lord Tennyson and Virginia Woolf once sought on this peaceful isle.
I check into the Priory Bay Hotel a few days after Ms. Moss’s party. While wandering Priory Bay’s perimeter, it’s easy to see why this venue appealed to the gamine beauty above other luxury options. The main house has a posh Bloomsbury feel, with wild gardens running unbroken down to the sea. A private sand and pebble bay is one of the property’s finest assets; we’re free from the noise of traffic and the sight of asphalt roads, and the air is thick with the delicious scent of fresh pine. In other words, this is the perfect place to break the whole spa rigmarole down to its bare arithmetic – two powerful hands plus one sturdy table.
As soon as Priory Bay and spa partner Harmony Beauty announced their newest delight, body work in a seaside Mongolian yurt, I took the bait. Elevating “glamping” to a whole new level, my tent is bigger than your average hotel room, equipped with an ensuite bathroom with designer, claw-foot tub. Bedside Blenheim Palace Mineral Water, Molton Brown toiletries and a private terrace with sea view seal the deal. While I dine on freshly caught fish, head massage therapist Ruth Hawkins sets her table up inside my yurt. I feel snug as a bug once she tucks me in and begins kneading the soles of my feet. Her technique is top-notch as she delivers a deliriously sweet deep-tissue massage.
Stressed muscles block optimal flow of nutrients and oxygen, causing inflammation and built-up toxins. Deep-tissue massage focuses on the release of muscle tension and chronic adhesions.
There’s absolutely nothing standard or prefab about Priory Bay, every aspect is harvested, hand-tailored or homemade. Originally a medieval priory, the site evolved through Tudor and Georgian additions and now,as a hotel, draws guests from David Bowie to Jude Law. A spa experience is key to a relaxing stay and a full menu of treatments can be arranged in your suite or yurt. Bridal parties enjoy pedicures on the beach, with pebbles from the shoreline to separate those toes. Ruggedly handsome owner Andrew Palmer is often on-site, charming many a return guest with his insider’s insights on the Isle of Wight.
The Priory Bay Hotel at Priory Drive, Seaview; 44-1983-613146; priorybay.com; $65 for 60 minutes.
Special to The Globe and Mail