When you think of Ayrshire, images of beaches, bacon and bunkers spring to mind.
Add beauty into the mix and you have all the ingredients for a perfect getaway.
My mother and I took a trip to this golfers’ dreamland with its miles upon miles of stunning sandy beaches.
Typical girlie girls, it wasn’t the popular sport which drew our attention to the area.
Rather, we had based ourselves at The Gailes Hotel to try out the new luxury spa which has opened at the golfing hotel in the heart of Ayrshire, on the outskirts of Irvine.
It is nestled close to the sea surrounded by several 18-hole championship golf courses.
Located around an hour’s drive from the Central Belt, Ayrshire, with its delicious local produce and rolling green fields, is easily accessible for a mini-break.
The new Si! Spa at The Gailes has opened following an extensive £2 million makeover.
During lockdown, independent family firm SimpsInns, which owns several hotels and restaurants in the local area, took the opportunity to invest in its venues and enhance quality.
The Gailes could be described as the jewel in the crown, with a stunning new wedding pavilion, private gardens, outdoor spa deck, smart new restaurant and not to mention its own Toptracer Driving Range.
As far as location goes, you are in golfers’ heaven. There are so many championship courses right on the doorstep. From Open Championship venues like Royal Troon and Turnberry, to Prestwick, birthplace of golf’s oldest Major.
The hotel is across the road from Dundonald Links, venue for the Scottish Open, while Gailes Links is literally next door, and Western Gailes is little over a par-five away.
Before hitting the spa, we had the chance to have a go on the Toptracer Range next door. We were kindly shown the ropes by the venue’s head professional coach Edward Thomson.
The system offers a huge range of programmes, from very basic kids’ games to the chance to play the digital versions of some of the most prestigious courses in the world.
Edward was extremely patient and attentive, making it a great deal of fun for two people with absolutely zero previous skills or experience.
The scanner measures your swing and follows the ball giving you exact details on the screen of precisely how fast and far your shot has travelled.
Edward told us that they have experienced a massive increase in people booking lessons.
Lockdown saw many adults bringing their kids along for something to do, and ending up getting into it themselves.
After a quick early morning session on the range, we were ready to unwind in the glamourous new Si! Spa.
Its billing of “stylishly seductive” is bang on, offering a perfect oasis from everyday life.
The exquisite interior design carries the coastal theme of the entire hotel right into the spa, with treatments also utilising vitamins and minerals linked to the ocean.
There is a collection of more than 50 personalised treatments to choose from, day spa packages and overnight spa breaks.
The treatments make use of nature’s most powerful and effective actives and oils.
The thermal suite, with its large extended vitality hydro pool dominating the room, is tranquil. It boasts a steam room, sauna and rainforest shower complete with relaxation area.
After this heat and water experience, your body is prepared to soak up the benefits from the vast range of treatments.
We opted for the coastal getaway experience. Following an hour in the thermal suite, your therapist gives you a welcome hand ritual, followed by an ESPA awakening body experience and therapeutic scalp ritual.
The package includes a two-course spa lunch with a glass of refreshing prosecco in the spa lounge, where you can chill out in your robes while choosing from a menu bursting with local produce and light bites.
The outdoor spa area is complete with firepit, decking and a roofed hot tub.
If you fancy a walk, the four-star hotel is set in lush countryside, surrounded by a network of cycle paths which travel through golf courses and lead to a stunning sandy beach which stretches for miles upon miles.
The Coast Restaurant and Bar is decked out in a marine scheme. The menu is packed with local produce including seafood and, of course, Ayrshire ham and cheeses.
We took a short taxi ride to another of SimpsInns properties, the Old Loans Inn, a charming country pub on the outskirts of Troon in the village of Loans.
There we enjoyed hearty food, a traditional warm Scottish welcome and another menu peppered with fine local produce.
If you are looking for a nice place to spend a weekend away, I can say that Ayrshire is bountiful, beautiful and we will be back.
Spa days start at £90 including a 55-minute treatment, 45-minute thermal suite experience and access to Si! Spa facilities including outdoor spa deck and champagne and cocktail bar in the lounge.
Spa breaks start from £145 per person including above plus overnight stay and full Scottish breakfast.
The Spring Awakening package from £145 per person is available to book now for stays from March.