Leisure Management - Best of British
|Best of British
In the past three years, an array of world-class spas have launched in the UK.
As facilities across the nation begin to reopen, we take a look at the standout concepts
they’ll be aiming to offer guests once more when restrictions are fully lifted
Carden Park Hotel
The 198-bed Carden Park Hotel in Cheshire launched a destination spa this January following a £10m (US$12.5m, €11m) construction project.
Consultant Nicki Kurran created the 4,500sq m, 14-treatment room facility alongside HB Architects and wet spa specialists Barr+Wray.
Face and body treatments inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, and the belief that everything in life needs to work in harmony, provide a point of difference along with a homegrown twist as product houses include UK brands Elemental Herbology, Made for Life Organics, Oskia and Margaret Dabbs.
However, it’s the outside space – boasting one of the UK’s largest spa gardens – which steals the show. Heated relaxation pods, fire pits, a garden sauna, hot tubs and vitality pool are dotted throughout manicured lawns, herb borders and rockeries for a wellness reset using nature. There’s also an all-weather Bollinger champagne bar.
Carden Park Spa only launched in January before having to close for lockdown. Up to £10m has been spent on the impressive facility
Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa
Liz Holmes, spa consultant
Steam rising off a turquoise infinity pool looking out at the towering Catbells Mountain Range, the gleaming Derwentwater and green forests, the gentle sound of a waterfall – it’s the spectacular setting of the Falls Spa in the heart of the idyllic Lake District which gives it the edge.
Opened in November 2018 as the final phase of a £13m (US$16.3m, €14.3m) redevelopment of Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa, the spa – especially the 16m infinity pool by Rigo – has been created with Instagram in mind. The hotel also features 18 new spa suites and 87 rooms in total.
Elemis treatments are offered alongside La Sultane De Saba’s Akwaterra Massage, a full-body relaxation experience using water-filled ceramic pods to soothe muscle tension and stress.
Dani Hope, daughter of owners Kit and Charles Grave, led the hotel transformation and sought specialist spa advice from consultant Liz Holmes.
Falls Spa is located in a spectacular setting in the heart of the Lake District
The spa has been created with Instagram in mind and is part of a wider £13m refurb of Lodore Falls Hotel
Rudding Park Hotel
Sunlight therapy rooms, star gazing, digital detox days, oxygen pods, aufguss saunas, bath rituals prepared by a bath butler, alfresco treatments in a woodland glade. The on-trend concepts at the Rudding Park Spa in Harrogate are what makes it stand out. Fresh spring water is even fed into the facility thanks to a borehole onsite.
The 45,000sq ft rooftop spa opened as part of the 90-bed hotel in May 2017 following a £9.5m (US$11.9m, €10.4m) investment. Facilities include a calming roof garden with a hydropool, sauna and spa bath among trees, shrubs and plants, plus an indoor hydrothermal area supplied by Rigo and Reef Grove.
Guests having treatments can access four immersive sensory experiences, such as a Mind Zone for colour therapy and reading or a Visual Zone with waves, wildflower meadows and mountainscapes. Elemis recently replaced Ila and Elemental Herbology as the main product house, while the spa continues to work with Jennifer Young to offer specialist treatments for those affected by cancer.
Fresh spa cuisine is provided by hotel chef Murray Wilson at Horto Café.
On-trend spa concepts include star gazing and sunlight therapy rooms (below)
All facilities are available with new capacity limits, except heat experiences
A three-storey glass-fronted extension was added to the 112-bed Sopwell House Hotel in St Albans in June 2019 to host a new spa.
The £14m (US$17.6m, €15.4m) Cottonmill Spa was created by Sparcstudio and themed around barefoot luxury – spacious rooms are flooded with natural light to accentuate the warm palette of natural tones and accents of turquoise marble.
At the heart of the spa is the Garden Relaxation Room which connects guests to both the indoors and outdoors through thermal hydropools that flow into a garden imagined by an RHS Chelsea Flower Show designer.
There are also multiple thermal experiences, a cocoon-like Deep Relaxation Room with softly-vibrating Four Seasons loungers and herbal oil aromas, a gym and the Pantry spa restaurant.
Cottonmill Spa is billed as the UK’s first private member’s spa and it offers two tiers of membership starting at £1,800 (€2,033, US$2,217) a year. Sopwell House Hotel guests also have complimentary day access.
Suppliers include Elemis, ESPA, iS Clinical, Aromatherapy Associates, Gharieni and Dornbracht.
the spa around the theme of ‘barefoot luxury’
South Lodge Hotel
The owners of the renowned Pennyhill Park, UK – where the spa turns over more than £5m (US$6.3m, €5.5m) a year – unveiled a purpose-built, £14m (US$17.6, €15.4m) spa at its sister property in the picturesque South Downs in March 2019.
Designers Sparcstudio were strongly influenced by nature when creating the 44,000sq ft, two-storey Spa at South Lodge (see SB19/2). The building itself has a curved, grass-covered roof in a nod to the sweeping South Downs (viewed by expansive floor to ceiling windows), it boasts the country’s first heated natural swim pond filtered by reeds and uses eco-energy such as bio-mass boilers.
A year in and business – just before coronavirus – was thriving. The spa had amassed 6,789 hours of treatments and it purposefully targets local customers with a tiered membership starting at £2,000 (US$2,510, €2,194) a year, a stylish yet high-functioning gym that looks more like a living room, 70-seat Mediterranean restaurant serving delicious healthy food, as well as a beauty bar which all offer competitively priced services. The 14 treatment room facility also serves guests at the 85-bed hotel.
The spa uses its own products for treatments, as well as Omorovicza, a range made from thermal waters and mud from Budapest. Helo UK and Spa4 are among the equipment suppliers.
Opened 18 months ago, South Lodge Spa is already a big name in the UK industry
Its focus on memberships and attracting locals will stand it in good stead
Sheila McCann, general manager
Austria-based health and medical resort operator Lanserhof opened the UK’s first medical gym at the Dover Street Arts Club, a private members facility in the heart of London, in February 2018.
The six-storey luxury health and wellness club features a world-class gym, exercise and studio rooms equipped by Technogym, as well as a full-service spa with cryotherapy chambers. Meanwhile high-end diagnostic and medical facilities include MRI scanning, cardiovascular screening, body metabolism analysis and two physical therapy labs and is staffed by doctors.
In August 2017 Lanserhof also acquired the historic destination Grayshott Health Spa in Surrey with plans to refresh the 36-treatment-room facility and give it a medical wellness edge.
Both facilities are being overseen by Sheila McCann who gave up her role as general manager of Thailand’s famous Chiva-Som destination spa to become part of Lanserhof’s ever-expanding portfolio (see SB18/2).
Lanserhof at the Arts Club is a cutting-edge medi wellness and fitness facility
Located in central London, it’s now offering antibody tests in its infusion room
YTL Monkey Island Estate
A Champalimaud-renovated hotel opened on Monkey Island, a 7-acre island on the River Thames, in April 2019 complete with a Floating Spa on a crafted barge.
The 41-bed YTL property boasts a ‘contemporary, English country house feel’. The three-treatment-room spa echoes this design but also draws inspiration from the river and the monks who settled on the island in the 12 century – it’s thought the island is named after them.
The experience is peppered with touchpoints that celebrate the power of the water, from a bright wheelhouse reception to stories and poems of the historic river and a Floating Massage delivered in fluid, graceful, and rhythmic movements.
There’s also an Elixir Bar serving herbal tonics once brewed by monks, such as benedictine and frangelico, which are also used at the beginning of sensory rituals.
YTL’s spa team – comprising Chik Lai-Ping, Sylvia Sepielli and Melissa Mettler – partnered with organic British brand Moss of the Isles to create bespoke treatments that tap into nature’s most nourishing elements including ‘magic peat’, garden herbs and moss. Meanwhile other facials and treatments use ISUN products also made from wild-crafted, organic, natural ingredients.
The barge is home to a Floating Spa with three treatment rooms
Spa bath revival
Ensana is behind the much anticipated thermal hotel spa in Buxton Crescent
The Majestic Hotel in the historic thermal spa town of Harrogate unveiled a £15m (US$18.8m, €16.5m) spa in February 2020 following an overhaul of the entire property. The hotel, which operates as a DoubleTree by Hilton, was built in 1900 and is one of the grand dames of the town, which is claimed to have 100 different mineral water springs.
The newly refurbished Harrogate Spa features a hydrothermal area, relaxation lounge and six therapy rooms offering ESPA, Thalgo and Carita treatments.
The Harrogate opening is one of three overhauled historic bath properties set to debut in the UK this year.
The iconic City Baths lido in Newcastle also opened in February, while its famous Turkish baths – and a luxury spa – are due to open on-site later this year, offering a range of treatments. Leisure operator Fusion Lifestyle has overseen the £7.5m (US$9.4m, €8.2m) redevelopment of the venue and worked with designers Napper Architects, specialist contractor Createability and heat experience supplier Mr Sauna on the restoration.
The most anticipated property, however, is the grand launch of The Buxton Crescent & Thermal Spa in Derbyshire – set to be one of the most significant spa openings in the country. The development taps into natural thermal waters and, aside from YTL Gainsborough in Bath, will be one of the only ‘genuine’ spa hotels in the UK. The multi-million-pound project is being led by Ensana, the health spa hotel arm of Danubius, and plans for it were put forward more than 15 years ago.
|Originally published in Spa Business 2020 issue 3