Having lived in Newquay and been frequent visitors to the Headland Hotel, both as gym members and to enjoy a drink on the terrace, we’ve been watching the building of the Aqua Club with anticipation.
The opening of a new £10 million, five-star facility like this on our doorstep was an exciting prospect. The new leisure complex was due to open in the spring of last year. But then the pandemic struck, at the worst possible time for hotel owners John and Carolyn Armstrong, who had just invested an eye-watering sum.
In July last year, the Aqua Club, complete with six pools, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant and a sun terrace, opened to hotel and cottage guests for the first time. Three pools are housed inside; a 25-metre swimming pool for training and lengths, a children’s splash pool and a hydrotherapy pool, and there’s also a sauna.
Outside on the sun terrace is a heated sunset spa encircled by an oceanfront edge pool, and a ‘vitality’ pool with a Cornish granite menhir (standing stone) as a central focal point. The sun terrace also features stunning oceanfront views and connects to The Deck, a Mediterranean-inspired 48-cover restaurant which serves pizza, homemade flatbreads, fresh salads, coffees and cocktails.
So what did Cornwall Live make of the facilities when we were invited to try them out?
After the introductions in the all-glass reception area, the experience begins, obviously, in the changing rooms. This part shouldn’t be underestimated; one of the downsides of swimming pools is the need to bring your own towel, shampoo and hair dryer. At the Aqua Club, all of this is provided. There’s also a swimsuit dryer – which Charlotte was very excited about – and ensures that damp chlorine smell won’t return home with you.
The male and female changing rooms meet at the entrance to the indoor pool hall. As you’d expect for £10 million, the design, by Truro-based Lilly Lewarne Architects, is phenomenal.
The hydrotherapy pool was the first we tried out; with hydrotherapy chairs and hydro jet beds, it’s the most exciting of the three indoor pools.
It’s perfect to relax aching muscles or escape from the kids, who can splash around in the shallow sloping children’s pool just a few metres away. If you’re a keen swimmer, there’s the 25-metre training pool, with an undulating full-length pebble-clad back wall feature, based on the concept of a Cornish rock pool. Due to Covid restrictions, why weren’t able to try out the sauna.
It was a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon in April, so we were looking forward to the outdoor space.
The first thing we noticed is how stunning the terrace is. The stone wall, the colour of the water and the incredible views were genuinely breathtaking.
The place to be is the heated Jacuzzi style sunset spa, where visitors can take in the views of the Atlantic while remaining shielded from the wind, thanks to the high glass wall. The sunset spa is encircled by a slightly cooler edge pool.
The ‘vitality’ pool is essentially an outdoor version of the indoor hydrotherapy pool, complete with hydrotherapy chairs and hydro jet beds, which surround the central point, a Cornish granite menhir – which is a really unique feature, reminding visitors of Cornwall’s history and heritage.
Relaxation is at the centre of the Aqua Club; there are several deck chairs out on the sun terrace which enable you to relax with a nice cold pint or glass of Prosecco, while taking a break from the various pools. It’s all rather impressive, and quite the four-hour experience of pure luxury. We left feeling a little merry, having rounded off the session with a drink or two on the terrace, and slightly sunburnt.
You’re probably wondering if it feels odd to go to a swimming pool during a pandemic. Most of us haven’t been in an enclosed space without a mask for over a year. But we felt very comfortable, because it was extremely clean and people were respectful of personal space. You can also spend the whole time outdoors, if you wish to do so.
But how much will this experience set you back? Well, it’s not cheap – for non-guests (hotel and cottage guests enjoy complimentary access), entry on Mondays to Thursday is £30 per adult, and £10 per child. That increases to £40 and £15 respectively Fridays to Sundays. That doesn’t include any drinks, or food in the restaurant – which we didn’t try out.
The hotel says these prices compare “extremely favourably” with other similar five star facilities. The hotel also plans to run a series of special offers for locals throughout the year.
The recent ‘Cornwall Residents’ only special includes complimentary two-hour use of the Aqua Club with a 10% discount on 55-minute spa treatments, available until Sunday, May 16. To book call 01637-870200.
We’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for offers for locals to once again enjoy this magnificent facility.