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Muddy road-tests the Elemis BIOTEC Facial at Aztec Spa and the husband actually notices. Yes, really.

Truth is, I have had lots of facials over the *not many* years but this was definitely one of my faves. Even though it involves some tech and talking from the therapist, it was one of most relaxing I’ve ever had. It had everything I like in a facial – the Elemis products smelled gorgeous (everything from marshmallow to geranium), I managed to sneak in a quick snooze and I had a really good laugh too – of which more later.



Aztec is the subterranean spa attached to The Carlton Hotel in a leafy part of Torquay. For a small supplement, you can have a dip in a huge Aztec-themed 25m pool and a fitness suite where you can pound the treadmill and get your Netflix fix (wasn’t Succession fab? DO watch if you’ve not seen it.)

Treatments on offer include a range of Elemis facials and massages, OPI manis and pedis, St Tropez tans for your pre-holiday prep, along with waxing, tints and all the usual gubbins for making you feel fab and party-season ready.



I’m a big fan of this spa for its jungly feel and Mayan panpipes over the speakers – it’s a world away from those white, minimal places which can feel a bit clinical. This is relaxing and dimpsy, with lamps for reading, rattan loungers and beanbags (for the limber) and the option to change into a waffle robe and slippers for a Clipper herb tea beforehand. 



My therapist, Natalia, introduced herself as having been in the beauty biz for 17 years and that she still loves what she does every day. Either she started when she was 10 or those Elemis products really do work.

The treatment is the usual skin-boosting mix of cleansing, exfoliating and massage, with the addition of five different technologies delivered via the BIOTEC machine.

Apparently half the clients fall asleep and the other can’t due the slight machine noise and the therapist explaining what she’s doing to your face. In truth, the machine drowned out the sound of the panpipes at points but not enough to stop me nodding off, it all felt and smelt so good.

It kicked off with an exfoliation which is delivered via a vibrating ceramic plate which sloughed off my dead skin (yuk, sorry) and stimulates collagen production. Amazingly, your skin feels instantly smoother and like it can breathe more.

Next a different tool delivers a micro-current – it doesn’t hurt – to lift and firm any saggy, jowly bits, and a galvanic tool which uses positive and negative polarity to open pores and draw out toxins.

There is also anti-ageing light therapy – hurrah – using red and blue lights crossed across your skin.

My fave part – because it gave me such a belly laugh – delivers oxygen into the skin. The small trumpet-shaped implement which gently blows it into your skin makes the most hilarious raspberry noises. I tried to be professional, I really did, but poor Natalia had to stop while I recovered myself (twice). 

Then it was a final shoulder rub and on with a nourishing swipe of pro-collagen moisturiser, and I was done.

I was told to expect the best results the next day, though I thought I looked pretty-damn glowy and pumped straight away. And get this: Mr Muddy actually noticed and complimented me afterwards – and that has NEVER, EVER happened in the history of my facials before.

I’ve already booked back in, obvs.



Good for: a real skin MOT. I loved it and am planning to try and go every 6 weeks like they recommend, if the piggy bank allows. I’m also putting the Elemis products on my Xmas list. At this time of year, they do excellent deals on gift boxes with enough bottles to last till next Christmas.

Not for: people who like to relax and not be disturbed by tools ands talk. 

The damage: A 60-minute BIOTEC facial is £72; 30 mins £45. A 30 minute BIOTEC Eye Reviver is £30. If you fancy a dip in the pool and jacuzzi, and a sauna add £10. Or for lunch treat yourself to the Dip and Dine £12.50 for £12.50 extra.

Aztec Spa, TLH Carlton, Belgrave Road, Torquay TQ2 5HS. Tel: 01803 400190 (ext 1920 for bookings).

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