With a short flight time of just three-and-a-half-hours you can be in the picturesque Maltese Islands.
The 5* Fortina Spa Resort, in Sliema, is less than half an hour drive from Malta International Airport and has breathtaking views of the ancient city of Valletta across the sea.
Once you manage to pull yourself away from the beautiful sights and check into the luxury hotel and spa you will find yourself immersed in a haven of peace and tranquillity.
The resort is the perfect place to escape for a short romantic getaway with spa rooms and private pool rooms, a Dine Around the World concept with a choice of six restaurants and two bars including the use of the neighbouring 4*Fortina Hotel, as well as the around the world therapies from facials, massages, muds and scrubs, beauty treatments, rituals and many more.
The Fortina Spa Resort is all about unwinding and relaxing and this is where my husband Nilesh and I spent the weekend.
We landed in Malta at 3pm (local time), where it was pleasantly warm, and were whisked off to the hotel where we checked into our Therapeutic Spa Bedroom – the first of its kind in Europe.
Overlooking the hotel's garden and pool area, with large balconies and our very own sunbeds, we sat down with a cup of coffee to restore our energy before being given a tour of the in-room treatments on offer – a therapeutic bath, steam shower, Dermalife machine and hot tub - by one of the hotel's spa therapists.
Inside the room there was a Queen-size bed behind which there were a set of steps leading to the hot tub and, in the bathroom, you could find everything from fluffy bathrobes and slippers to a basket of bath salts, seaweed serum, essential oils and mud masks for the complete spa weekend.
It's worth knowing the exclusive adults-only resort (except during Christmas, Easter, July & August) is attached to the 4* Fortina Hotel and guests can use bar and restaurants at both.
Eager to get out and enjoy the last rays of sunshine we discovered a two-minute walk from the resort takes you to The Point shopping mall where you can find high street shops, designer outlets, a supermarket and coffee shops.
Back outside, a small bridge crossing takes you to Tigné Point bridge where we caught stunning views of Valletta, including the beautiful St Paul's Cathedral before sunset. It is on this bridge where the romantic tradition of taking a padlock with a couple's initials on it and locking it on a chain or railing before throwing the keys away signifies ever-lasting love.
With just over an hour to spare we went back to our room and tried out the spacious jacuzzi for two which had several different programmes, and for use after dark a built-in night light as well as spot lights on the wall to create the perfect ambience.
I then tested out the therapeutic bath, with relaxing bath salts, which had nine different programmes available from relaxing to exciting. The jets started off with lightly and became more vigorous leaving you feeling much like you'd just had a massage. Completely relaxing, until of course, it was time to get out!
Meanwhile my husband settled into the Dermalife Machine – a detoxification therapy which steams, massages and uses infra-red rays to detoxify the body and gets rid of toxins. A sweaty but relaxing experience!
Dinner was at Can Thai restaurant, a mix of Chinese and Thai dishes, set in the hotel's tropical garden, where we dined with the hotel's hosts.
As vegetarians we found the usual suspects on the Chinese starters menu – spring roll, fried and steamed dim sum. Unfortunately there were no starters for us on the Thai menu! For me the fried veg dim sum was the clear winner.
There was plenty of chatter and laughter as the hosts made us feel very welcome.
For mains we switched to Thai food and, thanks to the accommodating waiters, we ordered a vegetarian green curry (which wasn't on the menu) and rice, veg pad thai and stir fired mixed vegetables in soy sauce. The spiciness of the green curry complemented the other dishes well. With no space for dessert we called it a night and headed back to our room.
Saturday morning, and refreshed, we were ready for our buffet breakfast in The Taste restaurant where a feast was laid out. Also located in the tropical garden with the option to sit outside, but we opted for indoor comfort.
A continental buffet, eggs made to order, cereals, toasts, fruits, yogurts, cold juices, hot drinks and even champagne! The service was great. The perfect breakfast pick-me-up!
Next up was a trip of the island's most popular Captain Morgan's Harbour Cruise, which is included in the hotel stay, an extra 5* touch!
The excursion takes you around the two natural harbours found on either side of Valletta – Marsamxett Harbour and the Grand Harbour. A recorded commentary, which unfortunately couldn't be heard clearly, tells you about the historic sites as you sail the sea. The trip aims to give you a brief history of Valletta and The Three Cities connected with the Great Sieges of 1565 and 1942 as well as other places of interest including the historical forts, battlements and creeks. Some great photo moments briefly shaken by the rough waters.
Sadly we didn't learn much about the city's epic history, the story of the Order of St John and the Knights of St John. History buffs are better off exploring the city on foot. And if you're sea sick – avoid! All in all, a quick way (just over one hour) to see some of Valletta's history.
Ready for our afternoon treatments we headed back down to the hotel spa. A peaceful ambiance and fragrances of lavender and jasmine welcomed us. This is what we had been waiting for after months of deadlines and hard work.
I was whisked away for my Youthful You Mabel facial (70 Euros) which included cleansing, toner, enzyme peeling, oxygenating gel using Mabel Pro heat machine, fruit mask, toner, eyecream and moisturiser. Yes, it was as great as it sounds! With soothing music and a wonderful therapist, an unforgettable experience and my best facial yet.
Meanwhile my husband was easing away his aches and pains with a Balinese Full Body Massage (70 Euros) which he would definitely recommend.
With time to spare, we tried out the Spa Sante where there was a whirlpool, sauna, ice grotto, meditation room, steam room, laconium, relaxing room and more. It was wonderful and a lot packed into the space but for us the in-room facilities were calling!
Other hotel facilities include an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, reflex fitness centre, hair salon, dental clinic and the helpful staff can arrange sightseeing tours.
I tried out the Dermalife Machine, which leaves you feeling lighter and later a mud mask in the steam room which leaves you feeling soft and cleansed.
Dinner tonight was at The Terrace, a Mediterranean restaurant, with magnificent views of Valetta.
With a limited choice for vegetarians we went for a selection of Mediterranean dips to start. This included basil pesto, roasted aubergine and spicy Maltese arioli served with olive oil crostini, crispy tortilla chips & vegetable crudities – light and tasty starter.
For mains it was penne arrabbiata which my husband found bland and not spicy at all considering the sauce consists of red chilli and unfortunately had to leave most of it. It was similar for my risotto funghi porcini which lacked even the simplest ingredients such as salt, but the juicy mushrooms helped me scoop a few extra spoonfuls!
With room for dessert we played it safe and went for a chocolate cake – light, fluffy and hit the spot. Off to bed!
Our final morning and last few hours on the island. After another lavish breakfast it was time for my second spa treatment - a two-hour Mala Mayi Ritual (100 Euros) which included a full body exfoliation, followed by a body mud wrap, scalp massage and relax time before hitting the shower and finishing with a full body massage. You have to try it!
Sadly, it was time to check out and, with a few hours left until our flight, we decided to head for the harbour and relax by the sea before grabbing a bite to eat and returning to our hotel for our transfer back to the airport.
What the hotel lacks in its exterior it makes up for inside with spacious rooms, great service and an unforgettable spa experience – racking up its 5* status.
Spa bedrooms at Fortina Spa Resort (www.fortinasparesort.com) start from just £969 per person, based on two sharing for seven nights on a half-board basis with a choice of six restaurants, plus return flights with 20kg baggage and airport transfers. A cruise of Malta’s Grand Harbour and a city sightseeing bus tour are included in the price.
Book with Spa Travel on 0800 917 3001 or visit www.spatravel.co.uk.
For more information on holidays in Malta and Gozo see www.visitmalta.com.