With her second child now safely deposited at Uni, Savant Spy rounds up the best spas for empty nesters
If, like me, you have waved your youngest off to University, you may be feeling contradictory emotions: a sense of liberation – being able to walk from the shower to the bedroom naked, say, or wallowing in the peace and quiet – juxtaposed with sudden and random gusts of awkward weeping.
My friend broke down in the school uniform section in M&S; I found myself howling as I drove past my son’s secondary school and Gordon Ramsay famously put on his undergraduate son’s underpants and sobbed – I suggest calling up this image whenever you feel the tears coming on.
It seems crazy – as Rob Lowe pointed out – to be “shattered” when your children are merely beginning their adult lives, learning stuff and having great parties, instead of waving them off to war - or rehab.
Not everyone feels the anguish. Sigourney Weaver said: “I’m determined not to be one of those mawkish, soppy mothers… so I’m determined to be very busy.” Michele Pfeiffer took up painting; Jools Oliver was so scared of her eldest leaving she had another child. Maybe don’t go that far…
Empty Nest Syndrome is a thing. Although it isn’t a mental health issue, it is a major life milestone, and, if you’re not an A-lister with a ream of nannies and staff, can be quite (sniff) emotional.
Random gusts of awkward sobbing aside, you may feel much of the below (and then some):
Never mind that, you may also be going through peri- or actual menopause, looking after an aging parent or two while entering the elasticated waist phase of middle age. It’s a lot to deal with.
But as long as you know that this is a normal and painful transition you can springboard your way into a new life.
This is the time to put yourself first, reset your own life goals, revive some of the things you loved doing before you got knocked-up and forgot who you were. Remember life pre-kids? How easy it was to go away or have a day out without worrying someone was going to leave the grill on or the front door wide open.
Now is the perfect time to treat yourself to a guilt-free, emotionally required spa day – or retreat, what the hell; this is your time to shine. Here are some ideas to make the most of your newly spacious life. And no need to book a babysitter…
Best for… being nurtured:
Before we begin the serious life-change shenanigans, some of us just need a hug. Head to Weavers’ House Spa in Suffolk for the aptly named Weaver’s House Hug treatment, 120 minutes of warm oils, hot stones and gentle rocking. After massaging your emotions into a pulp, you can celebrate the launch of your little ships with some bubbly in the private courtyard, then lunch in the cosy spa lounge. After, indulge in a little antique shopping therapy in picture-perfect Lavenham.
Best for… new adventures:
Having ferried your children around to have all the fun, it’s your time to have adventures. You can go horse-riding or take a cookery class at Lucknam Park before wallowing in their luxury spa; or learn to surf and spa at The Source at Saunton Sands or The Headland Spa, both of which are attached to surf schools on spectacular beaches. Instead of a hot bath, a bubbly hydro-pool and massage is far more grown up – and totally allowed.
Best for… regaining youthfulness:
Agua Bathhouse and Spa, on the South Bank, looks like a night club with its Barbarella vibe and groovy spa tunes – more often David Bowie than whale music. They call it a spa playground. You can book a rejuvenating treatment with resident facialist Katie Kerr and a hot oil manicure and pedicure before showing your pinkies (and tootsies) off at the roof-top night club-cum comedy club.
Best for… a little bit of magic:
Your mind, body and soul may have been put through the wringer during their teenage years... unleash your inner witch – or goddess if you prefer - and treat her to some bougie sound bathing and shamanic healing at The Mandrake, the ultimate Boho wellbeing mecca in the heart of Fitzrovia. Let your Spiritual Wellbeing Concierge guide you through in-room shamanic healing, Soundscape Alchemy, a Cosmic Sound Bath, a New Moon Cacao Ceremony and Galactic Star Seed Activation.
Best for… major de-stressing:
Fiona Arrigo’s retreats in West Devon are much beloved by the wellness set. The psychotherapist, intuitive healer and life teacher also offers one-to-one immersive programmes to help guide you through life changes. Stay at a cosy cottage in Somerset with roaring fires, scented candles and nourishing meals served by your ‘Arrigo Angel’. Individual programmes are arranged to help you explore your issues, practice self-care and slow down your pace.
20th September 2022
Clever, inspiring design, sublime views, a vast, clean and empty pool, solitary relaxation areas to read, write or commune with my muse.
Small talk, discussions about spirituality or astrology, any products containing tea tree oil or aloe (sadly am allergic), busy pools where you can’t do laps.
Behind the scenes