Focus on: The Cotswolds and Cheltenham
JANET BRICE discovers a burgeoning spa business in the heart of the Cotswolds where visitors are now swapping their traditional afternoon teas for the herbal variety
The Cotswolds conjures up images of picture-postcard villages dotted with dipped-in-syrup cottages and rolling English countryside swathed in yellow rape seed and red poppies.
So, you may be surprised to hear that this part of the UK is a hot spot for some of the world’s best spas.
Taking advantage of the peace and tranquility and proximity to London (which is only 90 minutes away) these spas are attracting city types with a penchant for the country, couples looking for a romantic break, singles looking for a little luxury and yummy mummies looking for a family break.
Racegoers from around the world descend on the Regency Spa town of Cheltenham during March each year for the prestigious National Hunt Festival which is the pinnacle of the race calendar.
Top of the pecking order when it comes to spas is Calcot Manor, which exudes luxury and comfort and is very child-friendly, along with the new, and rather grand, kid on the block Ellenborough Park (which overlooks the racecourse), The Greenway and in the centre of Cheltenham Chapel Spa and Neal’s Yard which nestles in the exclusive Montpellier district.
If you’re seeking a spa with a view for the Gold Cup look no further than the rather grand Ellenborough Park. This is a spa designed for either the ladies-that-lunch or the punters that race. After an extensive period of refurbishment the hotel opened last year and nestling in this historic country house is their luxury Indian-themed spa. A welcoming hot tub immediately relaxes guests who enter.
A wow factor has to be the private couples’ treatment room hidden away in a Rapunzel-type tower with has panoramic views over the racecourse. The hotel spa with its oak paneling, spiral staircases and modern twists is a contradiction of old meets new.
The spa features a sauna, steam room, sensation showers, hydrotherapy pool, seven individual treatment rooms and a twin treatment room for couples. Spa suites 16-19 offer direct access to the spa through a secret door.
Products used within the spa include ILA and Leighton Denny.
This is the perfect pampering spa before, or after, a day at the races.
Located on the outskirts of Cheltenham, The Greenway is a 16th Century luxury Elizabethan Manor House Hotel and Spa. The hotel, with its warm Cotswold stone exterior draped in ivy, is the picture of English country charm and lies in eight acres of stunning grounds with views over the rolling Cotswold Hills.
The relaxing atmosphere of this country house retreat is completed with the presence of the Elan Spa which is an oasis of tranquility and relaxation. The decor takes inspiration from the Cotswold location and is the perfect combination of countryside chic and absolute glamour with its exposed brickwork, old beams, vibrant colours and decadent products.
Facilities include; stylish treatment rooms, stunning hydrotherapy pool, a state-of-the-art fitness suite, studio for classes, sauna, steam room & samarium, experience showers, a Kubel Dusche, an al fresco hot-tub. And if you’ve had a lucky day at the races, why not celebrate your success in The Champagne Nail Bar.
Products used at the spa include; Anne Semonin, Comfort Zone, Orly, Nailtiques, Mama Mio and The Natural Spa Factory.
Beyond the threshold of the 1816 Portland Chapel, is a lovingly restored, Moroccan-inspired day spa.
Features include a hydrotherapy pool with candle-lit relaxation area, steam room, gym, yoga gallery, Arabian rasul and seven treatment rooms. You can curl up on the sofa over your morning coffee, let the waters of the pool ease away the aches and pains, experience the pleasures of a full body massage. There are many ways to spend each sensory moment at Chapel Spa, and the choice is up to you.
Each treatment room is cosy and atmospheric, with Moroccan accessories and scented candles, which will allow you to escape into your own tranquil world.
Award-winning Ayurveda expert Kathy Moores, who has trained in India, offers authentic traditional treatments including massage therapy using natural and organic plant based oils, lifestyle and nutrition advice, yoga and meditation.
Neal's Yard Remedies
One of Cheltenham’s hidden gems is Neal’s Yard, at Rotunda Terrace, Montpellier Street, which is a treasure trove of natural remedies and therapists.
This rather old fashioned-looking apothecary offers an holistic approach to health and is passionate that health and beauty should be more natural and less synthetic.
Neal's Yard Remedies was first established in 1981 in Covent Garden and since then the brand has been obsessed with discovering and delivering natural ways to improve health and wellbeing through outstanding natural and organic skin and body products.
The Cheltenham store offers a range of therapists who specialise in treatments such as acupuncture, baby massage, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and osteopathy.
Calcot Manor is housed in a Cotswold stone building near Tetbury (just opposite the hotel’s pub) is the Calcot Spa. It’s big and airy, comforting and cosy which is why you must book in advance as it’s very popular with the locals.
The spa is a magnificent private leisure complex, with outstanding facilities for health, beauty, fitness and relaxation. Imaginatively designed around a central courtyard, Calcot Spa blends sympathetically with its Cotswold surroundings and features a 16-metre pool, sauna, steam room, outdoor spa pool, exercise studio, tennis and no fewer than seven treatment rooms.
One of the highlights is a sexy outdoor hot tub (the size of a small swimming pool) that steams away like a geyser and where you can indulge in the ultimate luxury of ordering champagne.
The actual spa menu is long and comprehensive with everything from hot-stone massages to Reiki. The ambience and treatments hit all the right buttons and this spa is well worth the wait if you have to book ahead.
For a full review of the Calcot Spa at Calcot Manor click here »
Just down the road in the old Roman town of Cirencester is the quintessentially English Barnsley House – Calcot Manor’s sister spa. The contemporary Garden Spa has been designed to compliment its historic surroundings and to provide a tranquil and calm sanctuary for relaxation.
Barnsely boasts beautiful Rosemary Verey gardens, proper stone fireplaces and knockout bathrooms in the hotel.
The holistic treatments adapted to personal needs have all been devised to soothe, rebalance and refresh the senses to leave you feeling totally relaxed and rejuvenated in body and soul.
The light, airy, spa, which is a new addition to the hotel, is located in the shade of the trees. Although there is no swimming pool there is a good-size outside hydrotherapy pool that offers a steamy refuge from which to admire the rural view.
Barnsley House uses the product Aromatherapy Associates and offers the Garden Spa Signature Treatment which is a top-to-toe massage including a full body polish, aromatherapy massage, and facial with scalp massage. Also on the menu is the Holistic Time Out which is purely holistic and cmbines at least two of the following: reflexology, massage, Reiki or Indian head massage.
Stuart Holmes Hair & Beauty Spa
A good hair day is the barometer most of us use to assess how well our day is going - so just imagine the feel-good factor of a hair and spa holiday?
Let's face it, most sun, sea and sand getaways are a nightmare for our locks as we face the challenges of trying to look our best despite the drying effects of water, chlorine and over exposure to those UV rays!
So, if you came back from your summer holidays feeling a bit disheveled as you went through passport control you're probably in need of the ultimate girls� mini-break � a hair holiday in the heart of the Cotswolds...
And this is exactly what's on offer at the Stuart Holmes Hair & Beauty Spa Salon, in Regency Cheltenham, which invites you to kick back for a few days and enjoy a bit of self-indulgent, head-to-toe pampering � and why not?
Cowley Manor nestles in the heart of the Cotswolds five miles from Cheltenham and combines country-house grandeur with its best kept secret - the C-Side Spa.
This spa is cleverly carved into the hillside and is barely visible from the hotel. Once you have located the glass-fronted spa (just passed the renovated stable block) the final decision to be made is which treatment?
Cloud 9 is C-Side’s signature treatment which is a mix of aromatherapy, Qi energy balancing, reflexology and acupressure in an all-over 90 minute massage (including face and head) performed to your choice of music.
C-Side offers the unique product range, Green & Spring, which was only launched in 2008.
The spa features two swimming pools (large indoor lined with dark grey slate and a small outdoor one surrounded by a sun terrace), sauna, steam room and ice-cold plunge shower.
Besides the National Hunt Festival, Cheltenham hosts a number of other events including music, jazz, science and literature festivals.
* February: The Cheltenham Folk Festival
* March: The National Hunt Festival
* April: Cheltenham Jazz Festival
* May: The Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts
* June: The Times Cheltenham Science Festival; Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival
* July: The Cheltenham Music Festival; C&G Cheltenham Cricket Festival
* September: Heritage Open Days
* October: The Times Literature Festival; The Cheltenham Film Festival; The Open Meeting
* December: Various Christmas Festivals and Markets