Spa Day at Voya Seaweed Baths in Ireland!
Like a dog with its head hanging out the car window, absorbing the scents around him, I can smell the salty sea air before I see the ocean with my eyes. The smell of seaweed triggers memories in my mind of carefree days at the beach, walking barefoot with my toes digging into the gritty sand. To be young and free from a world of stress is sometimes elusive, but a day at the spa helps to destress. A day, or two, spent at Voya Seaweed Baths in Strandhill, Ireland is even better because this day spa brings the smell, taste and touch of the ocean to you in a warm and cozy environment.
My husband and I found ourselves in Strandhill, County Sligo on a cold day in March because I was on a mission. A year prior I had stayed at Ice House and Chill Spa in County Mayo, where I was introduced to Voya skincare products after a massage. I don’t wear much makeup and I don’t regularly get manicures and pedicures, so when my husband heard that I was on a quest to take a pilgrimage to Voya Seaweed Baths on the shores of Western Ireland, and visit what I termed “the mother ship,” he waited for the story to unfold and our travel adventure to begin.
We didn’t intend to stay for more than one night in Strandhill, but after checking into our hotel at Strandhill Lodge & Suites and having our Voya Seaweed Bath, we were so relaxed and happy that we decided to stay a few more days in this coastal community.
What to expect at Voya Seaweed Baths
We had no idea what to expect from a seaweed bath, but after speaking with owner Neil Watson about his first-hand experiences with seaweed baths as a recovery tool for athletes, we were anxious to try it. Neil’s father had introduced Neil and his brother Mark to the many uses of seaweed when they were young boys. Seaweed bathing is not a new concept in Ireland. In fact, the first seaweed baths opened in Strandhill in 1912. Neil opened his seaweed baths in 2000.
Today, Neil and his crew still hand harvest about 110 tons of seaweed per year. The company has a license to harvest the seaweed from the northwest coast of Ireland and it is certified by the soil association. The sea water comes from the Atlantic Ocean and is pumped directly from Strandhill Bay into the seaside building of Voya Seaweed Baths.
“I think the seaweed bath is even more beneficial for the non-athlete,” said Neil Watson. “People come here stressed out and this is a calming and natural Irish remedy. You’re getting nourished from the outside in.”
While I could feel the softness of my hair and skin from the effects of the seaweed bath, I asked Neil if he could substantiate the health benefits of the skin treatment. “My science background supports that these baths work. Science can be objective, but I’ve seen the results. We’ve also partnered with the Martin Ryan Marine Institute in Galway.”
The iodine-infused seaweed is able to detox the body, while healing the skin. With my limited scientific background, I know that the skin is the largest organ in our body and it is consistently thirsty for moisture. I used the Voya moisturizer after my spa treatment to hydrate my skin and was pleased with the results. My husband liked the seaweed baths simply because he thought it was fun to try a couples seaweed treatment – meaning we each had our own tub to soak in within the same, private room for a 50 minute time period. He also liked the steam room within the shower.
The only stressful experience we had at Voya was blaming ourselves for not booking a spa treatment in advance. Fortunately, we were able to take advantage of a cancellation and the next day my husband and I returned for a 50 minute massage. Later that evening we floated back to our Strandhill hotel – stress free.
Need to know:
As with any spa appointment, arrive early to sign the intake form. The salt water is heated and you are able to regulate the water temperature by adding hot or cold water to the tub. The attendants completely sanitize the rooms between appointments and everyone gets a fresh batch of seaweed with each session. As of this visit, there is no locker room, however, a spa renovation and expansion is in the planning stages. Until then, you’ll be changing in your room and drying your hair in the small bathroom. I recommend bringing your own hair dryer and hair brush.
On our visit to Strandhill, we stayed at Strandhill Lodge & Suites. Not only was this a lovely, four-star boutique hotel, guests of the hotel receive a discount for spa services at Voya Seaweed Baths. If you have time, step over to Shells Cafe for an excellent lunch. If they have peanut butter brownies, please have one in my honor – the best brownies I’ve ever eaten. For additional insider tips follow luxury travel writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter or Instagram @Nancydbrown. Follow Voya on Instagram and Twitter @Voyabeauty.
If You Go:
Voya Seaweed Baths 353 (0) 71 916 8686
Spa Day at Voya Seaweed Baths in Ireland review, video and all photography by travel writer & spa lover Nancy D. Brown. As is typical in the industry, I received a complimentary seaweed bath, however, all opinions are my own.