Have a life intervention at Grayshott spa
Grayshott Spa, near Haslemere, Surrey, is the quintessentially British escape. It is the old school country manor house with rolling green lawns backing onto 700 acres of National Trust land. Running for 50 years many of the staff have worked on the property for 20 years or more. Owned originally by a health enthusiast, the founder’s demise ultimately brought a change of ownership and in 2005 Grayshott was acquired by Simon Lowe, a hotelier and property developer who continues to refine and develop the health theme including launching an intensive, educational and hands-on seven-day health regime for the weary executive; overweight; run down or those in need of more specific care and recuperation.
As well as this going on in the background you also have a day or short term visit option so it is entirely possible to do a pop down and have some treatments and a swim, lunch and disappear. For those with longer-term needs like rest or digestive care then get ready to dig in for what the Americans call a 360 intervention.
As with all these health adventures they are generally an unknown quantity on arrival and what unfolds is not always comfortable ‚Äì but uncomfortable is usually where improvement comes from. A little bit of food deprivation and a couple of good massages will put your house in order even if you would prefer to watch Sky TV whilst downing some Ben & Jerry’s and a nice glass of wine.
The accommodation at Grayshott Spa is unique, not ultra-modern but British-comfortable with an indoors-outdoors feel. I stayed in a junior suite with comfortable lounge and big, squashy sofa next to French doors overlooking the gardens which allowed me many contented hours of snoozing with the sunshine and outside air lulling me like a baby. The bathroom equalled the living space which encouraged bathing and general loitering. My room was positioned near the swimming pools which was a real bonus when on a weary moment or in between massages I could have a warm dip in their body temperature swirling health pool.
The health regime is put together by Stephanie Moore and the information is com¬≠prehensive. Her philosophy follows the fasting principal which means a semi fast for two days out of the seven-day stay. Each regime guest is given a 40-plus page manual on the effects of stress; a review of vitamins and herbs; problems with dieting spirals, castor oil cures and much more. There is also an hour lecture each day with a theme which might include dealing with the effects of caffeine and sugar where guests can ask questions and take advice. Moore or one of her colleagues joins the health regime guests for lunch each day to discuss the points further.
The food programme follows a protein and salad theme with mainly cold food although soup is also offered each day and an option of an omelette is available in the morning so this may be worth keeping in mind if you have specific dietary issues with raw food. Something to iron out before arrival. Fast days does mean broth for dinner in your room which can be a bit bleak but being a Mayr veteran I think Grayshott Spa offers a very delicious version of the austere Mayr broth. Nuts and olives with delicious oils were available at all meals which certainly revived the mood. The sauerkraut before each meal to get your taste buds ready had mixed reviews. The chia
breakfast, which I really don’t like as a super food, was prepared with berries and surprised me by being sweet and delicious.
What Grayshott offers is that opportunity to get engrossed in you rather than in your Blackberry or day-to-day work, children, moving house, general credit crunch aftermath or hamster like business development. An average Grayshott day means power walking on National Trust land, breakfast, snooze, massage, castor oil presses, herbalist consultation, blood tests, electronic body scan; seaweed baths; lunch in the conservatory and good chats with your fellow inmates, then more of the treatments or more snoozing or for the adventurous some local cycling to the ponds before dinner and a solid, civilised chat putting the world to rights once again with your new best friends. A film before bed and you are lost to the world.
Being lost in another world is what Grayshott Spa offers and I think that is what has become the essential knight in shining armour. The ability to abdicate our stressful lives to someone else and get that feeling of being the centre of someone else’s world for a while in such a one-on-one and caring way probably mirrors how you felt as a toddler where you were the apple of your parent’s eye.
However the star of the show has not been delved into yet. The spa area and their treatments included all manner of therapies that were new to me. Which having travelled the world and tried many offerings, is quite exceptional at Grayshott. From the castor oil presses which cleanse our livers getting them ready for the party season to herbal tonics to reduce your appetite for a glass of wine. To NLP and cognitive behavioural therapy to put any emotional issues to bed or give you tools to handle them and options like cranial sacral therapy which manipulates fluid in your spine to restore healthy balances and promote healing to straightforward hot stone massages and Tui Na which is a Chinese form of martial art hands-on pressure point massage.
Advice is good from the nutritionist to the herbalist to the reports you are given. I now know I have good cholesterol from my on the spot blood tests with a muscular body and a good ratio of muscle to fat from my body composition analysis machine. I can also power walk like an Olympic athlete but more importantly removed any back-of-the mind worries that I might have something wrong with me which is an ever present demon with a busy business life and the on-going punishment of wine-a-plenty and puddings galore.
Grayshott offers digestive and recuperational help but I think they have another diamond in their crown other than simply health advice and weight loss. The spa treatments including the powerful castor oil press stop and make you think about yourself and your life issues and as you are thinking you have a lot of advice and actually useful therapies rather than just la la spa treatments to undertake which coach you physically but more mentally into a stronger if not vastly improved you.
Grayshott Spa offer a number of ‘ready to go’ packages for you to step into including weight loss, de-stress and enhanced digestive health.
For further details, visit http://www.grayshottspa.com
The Lowe down on Grayshott
Karen Jones meets Simon Lowe, hotelier and property developer and owner of Grayshott Spa since 2005.
Grayshott is a philosophy more than a spa
“Although I lived in London, in the seventies I used to come to Grayshott with my then wife. It is the second oldest spa of this type in the UK so I have always known it and was interested when it came up for sale,‚Äù says Lowe who was presented with a National Award for excellence in the hotel industry in 2010 by Knight Frank and Conde Nast. “I think there is a lot of competition in the spaworld but that the word “spa‚Äù is a generic term that may apply to a hotel who offer fashionable treatments but for Grayshott it’s really the wrong terminology. Using the word spa doesn’t give us credibility. What we have here is a philosophy. We have experienced people and keep thorough medical records. That’s our difference.‚Äù
Guests will feel the City fade away
“We want it to feel like a retreat,‚Äù explains Lowe who as well as his ‘day’ job manages his family property portfolio and financial investments across five countries. “We want people to come here and feel relaxed. To wear robes all day long and for women to have no make-up. We want people to feel safe because I think we live in an increasingly unsafe world. It is important to make guests feel secure. Life is fast, pressured and stressful. We don’t want our offering to compare to a trip to a conference where you have a massage in between meetings then head off to a cocktail party. We want people to stay for a minimum of two days. The purpose here is you, not a wedding or a conference.‚Äù
“Wellbeing means feeling secure. We don’t want people to feel they are competing here. The women who come are high powered and for some they don’t want to come out of their rooms. We want to help the massive pressure from the City to fade away.‚Äù
Lowe, who was educated at Leeds University and was also FD at Four Seasons Plc, continues: “There is a real advantage to coming here. The A3 is one of the best roads out of London and the train service is quick and easy. I know a lot of people have stopped going to the country because of the traffic but we don’t suffer from that difficulty here.‚Äù
Grayshott is a business
not a hobby
“We are results driven at Grayshott Spa,‚Äù says Lowe, who has also teamed up with the Aman Group building a US$450million Aman Hotel and beach resort in Nevis, West Indies. “If we don’t produce results then it’s not good news for the business. Our staff are all researching and experimenting all the time to bring a better offering to visitors. I like experimenting so staff have a free reign to try different ideas here. My view is we need to go from want to need. There are those who want a couple of days away and looking for a discounted spa or hotel and those who need to get time away for health or restorative reasons. We want to appeal to the latter camp. We are in unchartered waters and have compared offerings like the Austrian Mayr Clinics but didn’t follow them. We wanted something more British but with a modern twist. I also spend half my life in the USA and Americans really know how to do ‘smile school.’ I want to make that part of the fabric of Grayshott.‚Äù
Who would he have lunch with?
Henry Kissinger, Helen Mirren, Stephen Hawking
Advice for women?
“Stay strong. Learn how to do down time or you will frazzle.‚Äù
Advice for the younger generation?
“Be totally dedicated to what you want to do with your life. There is no point going through the motions.‚Äù
People, profit and planet?
“My wife and I have a foundation to do charitable work. I also work with the Four Seasons charity. For Grayshott making profit is about controlling expenses. The planet? I need to do more but the hotel development I’m planning in Nevis will be as green as I can possibly make it.‚Äù