Kevin Pilley would rather order good old room service than a colonic irrigation.

Spas are not for me.

But my wife loves them. She can't keep out of them. Recently, at the Four Seasons Nevis by the Caribbean Sea, she went for the lot.

The shea butter and lemongrass lustre skin buff. The mango sea salty glow. The coconut body polish. And the ginger and guava soak wrap. I have never known her so fruity.

My wife and I disagree on many things. But mostly "Wellness Centres".


She's a spa addict. I'm a phobic. I can smell one a mile away. And it makes me - and my credit cards - quake. My bank account can detect an incoming holistic health adviser a corridor away. It's the Ayurvedic herbs that give them away.

Today, no hotel is without a spa. Spas have become as essential as beds. No one will stay in a hotel unless they can be periodically startled by water jets. Hotels are now little more than hospitals. We used to be holidaymakers. Now we are outpatients.

Things have changed. Once it was: "That tan looks great on you!" Now it's: "That lymphatic drainage suits you!"

Once, you came back from holiday with a nice colour. Now it's nice toenails.

Modern hotels panic me. As soon as I arrive the alarm bells ring. In the form of squeaky plimsolls. I see the bouncy walk. The face aglow with good will and marine algae.

Then the big, blinding, radiantly healthy "Special K With Purple Berries" smile. It's the smile of someone whose life is one long, blissful early-morning bowel movement. I see them coming and I know what's coming. "Can I book you in for a complimentary colonic irrigation?"

I don't do spas. I go away to relax. I dislike being around large numbers of strangers obviously under the influence of fitness.

On vacation, I had a near-death experience just by walking past an aerobics class. I was asphyxiated by toxic fumes caused by a large build-up of star jumps and soya beans.

One hotel boasted a resident nutritionist. I came back from the pool to find my wife frothing at the mouth. I thought she was having a fit. Actually she was just having her prescribed yeast tablets.

I have a big problem with the current spa pandemic. I associate spas with not very relaxing activities like tripping over a lot in flip-flops. And incredibly toothy people with abnormally nice cuticles who peddle pilates and force you into putting your leg foolishly higher than it's ever gone for 30 years and then tell you - for the optimal results - to keep it at that obscenely oblique angle for the next 10.

Spas, for me, invoke certain stereotypes.

Druids in fluffy togas who walk like Hercule Poirot because they suffer from bad water retention. I associate them with defiantly dressed health Squaddies with an unnatural obsession with your passageways.

These pseudo-medical personnel are remarkably well-informed on the subject of "juicing" and believe in the curative powers of turnip smoothies. They are always carrying around a bottle of clear liquid which you assume is mineral water because no olive is visible.

Wellness centres conjure up sadism masquerading as aqua-jogging and torture passed off as postural stretching. How on earth can you relax at a hotel when you know that at any time you could turn the corner or the lift doors will open and there'll be a white coat saying. "Hi! I'm your personalised, professional, corrective, high-performance, neuro-physiological, balneotherapist, kinesiologist and fully qualified applied dermabrasion functionary."

You're not meant to scream on vacation.

There were times - not long ago - when you could go away, stay in a hotel and choose what you wanted to eat. Now you get your meals on prescription. I want chefs to cook for me. Not help me fight free radicals. They are the things that make cars rust and butter turn rancid.

I don't go in for acupuncture. I know it lowers stress levels. Yelling at people to stop stabbing you usually does. I enhance my energy levels by staying in bed. Or in a hammock or a lounger. Not by being a pincushion.

Yoga gives me cramp. My body doesn't enjoy being cajoled into some sacred Mayan geometric configuration. I don't like being told how to breathe properly. As if I've spent all my life breathing incorrectly.

And aquatherapy? I don't like to be shot at by a water cannon. I don't like being mistaken for a rioting student.

No. Spas are not for me. If someone tells me they're going to the spa I look at them as if they are wearing a durian face pack.

Unless it's my wife.

Then I smile. And head for the golf course. Nevis knows how to treat us spa phobics.