I always go to a spa when I need to get away from the world, take time out to think and find inspiration.
Ragdale Hall is perfect for this; I arrive, hand over my car keys for valet parking, my bag is taken to my room and I turn my phone off. That means I can immediately unwind, switch off my day-to-day brain and free my subconscious for creative thinking. I will let you into a secret. Many years ago, I had an amazing brainstorm while at Ragdale. I swam a bit, relaxed a bit and just let my mind wander. The result was Good Spa Guide™.
Being on my own is vital to achieve that personal focus. Much as I love my friends and family, sometimes I need space. At a spa you can be alone, and no one will think you strange. Ragdale Hall has a social table at mealtimes which you can join if you prefer to chat. It also has plenty of relaxation spaces, so it’s easy to find somewhere to sit and ponder.
Ragdale also offer many retreats, and I recently signed up for their Mindful Exercise Retreat. Over the two days, I did a yoga session, a meditation session and a relaxation session. Then I fitted in an exercise session that focused on affirmations, and one on balance (in the physical sense, although I was also focusing on emotional and mental balance throughout the stay). In between, I used this down time to do some planning and reviewing. I tempered this physical and mental hard work with a few treats including a facial, a massage and a lovely hot wax treatment on my overworked hands.
By the second day I was deeply relaxed and started early in the rooftop pool (pictured). I had the pool to myself, sat in the warm water and looked out over the countryside and up to the clear blue sky. Here in the peace and quiet I could apply the techniques of mindfulness and enjoy being in the moment. I noticed all my senses: warm water on my skin, bright sunshine on the gardens, the sound of bird song and the feel of the water jets massaging my muscles.
The relaxation, the gentle exercise sessions and the treatments all helped reduce my stress levels so that I could think clearly. I came home ready to get started on the next stage of my latest project.
Many spas offer themed courses. The Spa Spies™ have done menopause breaks, boot camps, sleep weekends, giving up smoking weeks, gut health retreats and even a singing retreat. If you fancy trying a new exercise regime most spas will offer personal training or walking weekends. Ragdale Hall have yoga and Pilates breaks all year. Sign up for the regular Good Spa Guide™ newsletter for a round-up of what’s on offer at spas throughout the UK.
Go-to product: I’ve been using Elemental Herbology’s Moisture Replenish cell plumping facial moisturiser, a lovely rich, cream to nourish and hydrate my parched summer skin. You can enjoy this as part of the Travel Mini collection if on retreat.
Favourite read: The Humans by Matt Haig, which is alternately very funny and very thought-provoking
14th August 2019
Warm treatment beds; fragrant steam rooms; therapists who listen to what you say; unexpected treats such as back massages that start with hot towels on your feet.
Small towels; crowded changing rooms; black mould in the showers; therapists who sniff; anyone who doesn't take my lavender allergy seriously - until I'm actually sick on them!
Behind the scenes