We have all come to realise, over recent times, the importance of building wellness into our daily routine – through exercise, socialising, eating well and looking after our body and mind – in beautiful, relaxing places.
The opening of Nara Spa & Kitchen answers this call – a unique, Nordic-inspired wellness concept, on the edge of stunning woodland.
Brought to Cumbria by the Habitus Group, the spa and bistro create an uplifting feeling for both body and mind. ‘Nara’ literally means nourishment of the soul.
Nara Spa director Anne Craig says: “After everything we have been through with Covid, people are beginning to realise that having a good balance in life is really important.
“I always say, you should have a least half an hour a day to yourself, to do something just for you. It’s your time to switch off from the world and have that moment of wellness.
Behind the mask at the Skin Studio
The Skin Studio will be able to cure some of the lesser talked-about ailments of the pandemic.
Anne explains: “If you’ve been wearing your mask at work for the best part of eight hours a day, your skin is going to be so thirsty, so dehydrated. As time goes on your skin will become dry, and then you’re going to have problems.
“The Skin Studio is something we haven’t seen in Cumbria before. What you tend to find across the UK is that skin therapists are brand-affiliated, so when they recommend products, it’s going to be what they sell.
“What we’re trying to do is move as the industry moves. We can adapt our treatments so we are at the cutting edge of what is available, and it’s really exciting.
“We’ll do an in-depth, honest consultation with our clients, where we’ll talk about lifestyle and diet, but also where they want their skin to be.
“What’s really important is that we understand each individual client, because no two people are the same.
“We’ll look at what they’re currently using, whether it’s working for them or not, how long they’ve been using it, if there are any gaps in their routine.
“Also, asking about their skin care budget. There is so much stuff on the market at the moment, and it would be lovely for us all to spend £200 on one product, but we can’t all afford to do that.
“We will give people a recommendation list, for whatever they need. We will do the research and do the hard work for them.
“People should be able to come and look after their skin at least once a month. I think now we are in a day and age where people do care about their skin.”
Bespoke packages at the Nail Studio
The Nail Studio will offer manicures, pedicures, signature and luxury treatments, plus bespoke packages.
“We decided to go with a brand that’s renowned at the moment in the industry, called The Gel Bottle, and its sister company, Peacci,” adds Anne.
“They’re amazing, UK-based and really at the top of their game. One of their unique selling points is the ridiculous amount of colours they have.
“Because we’ve got the bistro on the same floor, while you’re in the Nail Studio, if you want a glass of bubbly, or a cup of tea or coffee, we can bring that to you, so you can have that extra bit of chill out time.
“There’s no location like where we are.”
From performing arts to beauty
Anne herself has been on quite a journey to reach the pinnacle of shaping a new spa and wellness experience.
Born Middlesex, she moved to Buckinghamshire, the came to Carlisle to go to university. Now she is married with a family.
“I’ve been up here 20 years, and I absolutely love Cumbria,” she says. “We are so lucky to have all this glorious countryside around us.”
Anne’s first love however, was performing arts. “What I found was that I really loved every aspect of it. I loved singing, I loved acting, I loved dancing, but I also loved backstage.
“Something I really loved doing was theatrical make-up. I did make-up for a drag show, I did media shoots for people who had to put pop videos together. And I taught performing arts for a while abroad.
“I went back to college to get into the beauty industry. After I qualified, I worked as a therapist and learned as much as I could. I then became a head therapist, then spa manager.
“When this job came up at Nara Spa by Habitus, it was the dream, to build a spa from scratch, to be able to put my ideas into practice.
“Things change all the time – I’m constantly learning about it.”
‘I had to rebuild my skin care routine’
That learning reached a new level when her own skin care routine had to change dramatically in 2019.
“Out of nowhere, my skin had a lot of allergic reactions, so I was under a dermatologist,” she explains.
“From a personal point of view, I really honed in on what was going on with my own skin.
“I learned the hard way and had to strip everything back and rebuild my skin care routine.
“In lockdown I just sat down and read and read and read. I now have a better understanding, not just about my own skin, but about what other people might be going through.”
You can book a consultation or treatment at the Skin Studio and Nail Studio here.