Can a spa break change your life?

JANET BRICE asks the experts how spas have evolved over the years to find out if a wellness retreat or urban break can really give you a healthier future…



In Chinese medicine prevention is better than cure and this belief is now becoming popular within the spa industry.

Wellness is the new buzzword and a recent report by the Global Spa Summit summed up this type of spa break as “tourism which involves people who travel to a different place to proactively pursue activities that maintain or enhance their personal health and wellbeing, and who are seeking unique, authentic or location-based experiences/therapies not available at home”.

This includes such treatments as thalassotherapy in Cyprus or Ayurveda in India, natural hot springs in Bath or a yoga retreat in Thailand – a holiday which actively seeks to improve your health and quality of life.

Looking back in history, a visit to a spa was first enjoyed by The Romans who harnessed the benefits of natural spring waters and built grandiose baths for them to relax in. Cleopatra became famous for her ancient milk bath rituals and in Arabia hot, weary bodies were cleansed in hammams or rasuls.

Moving onto the 1960’s and the spa experience in the UK was mainly based around the “health farm” mentality of checking into a country retreat for a week of ‘keep fit’ and a diet of lettuce leaves and mainly the domain of the rich.

In the 80s we saw the rise of spas such as the women-only Sanctuary in Covent Garden, London, which added a touch of glamour and accessibility to the spa day and had people queuing round the block.

And today, many spas’ offer a combination of feel-good treatments, saunas, Jacuzzi’s, steam-rooms and usually turn a blind eye to serving a chocolate brownie or glass of champagne in the outdoor hot tub.

However, this may be a naughty but nice way to leave a spa – but many people are now seeking a wellness spa holiday that actually changes their life forever…

Ayii Anargyri taps into a natural spring which the spa has harnessed to establish a wellness resort ideal for anyone with arthritis, skin or circulation problems or for anyone just seeking peace and solitude…

Ayii Anargyri Natural Healing Spa Resort, Milou between Polis and Paphos, Cyprus


Carved into a valley and nestling under a woodland of mature orange trees the natural healing spa resort of Ayii Anargyri is a hidden gem well worth straying off the traditional tourist trail to find.

Located in the foothills of Miliou near Paphos the spa is an architectural masterpiece blending old and new; the light, airy spa with its three circular therapy pools and cool, cream relaxation room stands alongside the historic family church and spa hotel with its stunning outdoor pool.

Ayii Anargyri taps into a natural spa only two kilometers from the resort which boasts 22 treatment rooms and the 56-room hotel which accommodates guests who tend to stay a couple of nights to benefit from the healing waters which are rich in sulphur.

The natural spring waters are used for the therapy baths which are heated to 30 C with guests staying 15 minutes in each pool as the sulphur and jets are good for circulation, arthritis and for treating skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

All the pools and different treatment rooms such as the water bath, Vichy shower and Thalaxion circulation boosting capsule are all very user friendly especially for the elderly guests who seek relief at the spa which has been opened for two years and is known as “the spring of life”.

Closer to home at Grayshott Spa in Surrey, which has moved with the times for more than 40 years, they have just announced a new health programme which will run alongside the spa division.


Grayshott Spa in Surrey


As part of this expansion, Grayshott has teamed up with top specialists to create programmes that address weight management, sleeping disorders, burnout, menopause and post operation/illness recuperation.


These tailored retreats, which will run from four to six days will be closely supervised by Grayshott's highly experienced in-house health consultants including nutritionists, nurses, hypnotherapists and treatment therapists as well as a substantial menu of evidence based therapies/treatments.

Programmes available in 2012 will include:

Weight Management - for long lasting health, vitality and weight management.

Deep Sleep- for those struggling with sleep deprivation, sleep difficulties or unable to relax and "switch off".

Burnout Recovery - a retreat for those exhausted by the pressures of everyday life, who urgently need to address stress levels.

Recuperation - designed to support a return to health and strength after sickness, surgery or bereavement.

Menopause - this retreat offers a proven, scientific and natural, alternative to HRT.

New Body - for those seeking to address weight or fitness issues, change eating/ lifestyle habits or just wanting to 'get back on track'.

Elaine Williams, Director of Natural Therapeutics at Grayshott and a finalist in The SPA Traveller Awards in the Best Therapist category, said: “The Spa environment creates a safe space for individuals to achieve immense relaxation.

“Combine this with the wealth of sound workable advice on hand from dedicated health practitioners and coaches and one may return home to implement seemingly small changes yet experience an enormous impact from them in one's life."

Karen Mitchell, Head of Natural Therapies for 37 years at Grayshott, said: “In every day life it is essential to get off the ‘treadmill’ that we all find ourselves on at some time in our lives. It is important to take time to relax, re-charge our batteries, eat well, exercise and just switch our minds off - stress can have such a damaging effect on both our physical and mental wellbeing.

“Grayshott Health Spa offers specific programmes as well as tailor made stays – all aimed at helping guests address health issues, overcome stress or simply to relax,” she said.

And someone who can vouch for her life-changing experience at Grayshott Spa is The SPA Traveller’s Olivia Benjamin who signed up for the Weight Management course with Vicki Edgson and returned home a new person.

“The combination of diet, exercise and nutritional advice was quite a revelation and on leaving Grayshott I really believed my body was a temple and had to be respected.

“I didn’t want to return to my old ways so immediately turned out my kitchen cupboard, shopped for healthy foods and signed up for yoga and water aerobics and, today, I feel like a different person.”

Diary of a weight-loss retreat   Diary of a weight-loss retreat

Urban Spa Breaks

ESPA Life at The Corinthian hotel in London is the vision of ESPA founder Susan Harmsworth who is now at the forefront of wellness.

ESPA Life at The Corinthia Hotel, London

“Spas used to be the domain of the affluent; then everyone began using them as a treat or a gift. Now we're seeing spa-goers who want more and a new generation of kids that have to cope with work stress and environmental factors. They're not looking for a holiday with massages; they want sophistication, knowledge and seven days to learn how to eat right and stay healthy,” she told The SPA Traveller.


“ESPA Life is very close to my heart and I believe will take the spa industry to another level. The spa offers a fully integrated wellness approach alongside the luxury spa experience and is set to become the leading voice in the next generation of spa.


“The spa, which is very glamorous, is housed over four floors of the hotel, has attracted globally acclaimed, holistic health professionals, influential specialists and outstanding spa therapists who will be on hand to create revolutionary lifestyle solutions and exceptional spa treatments.

“I have been in the spa industry 40 years and I don’t think anyone in the world is doing what ESPA is doing. Today, people want more from their spa; they want effective treatments with long-term benefits and this is what we are offering.

“Prevention is better than cure.”


The Spa Queen   Diary of a weight-loss retreat

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