Sunday, August 13, 2006

The only hot water Spa in the country opens

Last week the Spa at last opened to the paying public. Business has been brisk and even at the end of the first week there were still queues of people waiting to sample the waters or to book for the future. I made a booking on Tuesday for the beginning of September. Two hours from 7pm to 9pm at the resident's rate of £16.10 should allow us to be in the rooftop pool when the sun goes down and I am looking forward to seeing the floodlit Abbey and Sham Castle from the pool.

Some national newspapers have already reported favourably on the Spa. For the Independent one of their reporters went in during the session for the press the week before opening and shared the pool with an electrician even then still doing some last minute work on the pool's underwater lights. However, as well as documenting the problems of the Spa, he commented that the real problem was that there had not been a spa in the city for the last 30 years. Architect Nicholas Grimshaw broke his silence on the construction for the first time by saying how pleased he was with the finished building and he gave a glowing tribute to the council for its perseverance.

I remember swimming in the spa waters of the old Royal Baths, that were demolished for a shopping centre in the 1980s (now BHS). The waters were lovely when you first entered, but after a while swimming in the water I became pretty hot so I used to sit on the steps to cool down.

The old Cross Bath has also been restored and local residents can swim here for £6. The bath will only take 12 people a a time, so I can see this becoming pretty popular for small celebration parties. I have swum in this bath in the past too, when playing rugby for Avon RFC, probably in the 1960s or 70s, when for a short period of time Old Edwardians Rugby Club used the bath after rugby matches - not only did the water clean our grubby bodies, but it also served to ease the aches and pains collected during the game. Modesty was not a consideration - there were no swimming trunks in evidence then!

Of course it is early days, but those of us who have believed in the Spa from the outset now hope that it will be successful and give a shot in the arm to Bath's faltering Tourist Trade. The confidence shown by the company which has bought the old City of Bath College Gainsborough Building (I hope it becomes the Gainsborough Hotel) will give added impetus to the Spa.

I will be trying out the Spa on Saturday 2nd September 2006, so watch the blog for a report about the experience!


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