Feeling like you’ve come to a cross roads I life? Or do you have a niggling doubt that’s holding you back? Savant Spy says a visit to a spa will help you take back control and feel like you’ve had a fresh start.
Going away to find yourself was once considered a bit of a posh lifestyle fad, the kind of thing Edina and Patsy did in Ab Fab, the preserve of the rich and self-indulgent. One thinks of Gwynnie heading to The Ashram in LA for a bit of chakra cleansing, mountain hiking and a guided journey back to the self.
Now, however, it’s become more acceptable as essential to our health and wellbeing. And these days you don’t have to trek up the Himalayas to seek guidance from the Dalai Lama to experience emotional and spiritual transformation.
Many UK spas are now offering life-changing retreats, bringing in life coaching, meditation, workshops and yoga experts so that you can use your spa time to really examine your life, explore what you need and come home equipped to make any necessary changes.
Spa plus life-coaching
Gorgeous country house hotel and spa Lucknam Park, near Bath, now runs a range of wellness retreats that mix spa with life-coaching, meditation, yoga and holistic treatments.
We did it because some of our guests suggested it, spa director Sharon Rooney says. The hotel, spa and the beautiful surroundings have an instant de-stressing effect, and we wanted to promote the wellness aspect. Getting in a life-coach adds that extra dimension.
With the success of celebrity therapist Fiona Arrigos pricey retreats in Somerset, there is clearly a growing market for stressed-out working women who want something more nurturing than the male oriented boot-camps for burnt out execs. Although, as Sharon tells me, wellness retreat clients come from all walks of life.
Yes there are professionals, but also mums who don’t work, or just people who are curious, who aren’t stressed but want direction, she says.
Sharon feels that the small, intimate space of Lucknam’s Wellness Centre, plus carefully selected holistic treatments such as dry floatation or the ila Prima Vitality massage, create a safe and nurturing space for self-exploration and revelation.
"These days you don’t have to trek up the Himalayas to seek guidance from the Dalai Lama to experience emotional and spiritual transformation.”
I thought: what if we had someone to work with our guests and help clarify their goals, says Sharon. I’d read Burnout to Brilliance and thought: this is perfect. We were a bit nervous when we tried it out, but it was a huge success. Jayne has continued to work with us and there are lots more retreats planned.
Spa to change your life
Ockenden Manor Hotel and Spa in Sussex were also a little sceptical about running such retreats, but author and transformational coach Katie Phillips managed to convince them there was a market for self-exploration.
At first Katie ran workshops at the Sussex hotel along the lines of the retreats she hosts at a villa in Portugal. When Ockenden saw how popular they were, they decided to go for it. Katie’s retreat, based on the principals she outlined in her book The Self Love Affair: A Women’s Guide to a Daring and Mighty Life, is called Learn to Love Yourself.
It’s a pretty bolshy title for England, Katie laughs. In LA, I don’t even have to explain it!
Guests will enjoy four days of gentle workshops with Katie, plus guided meditation, yoga, treatments and spa, during which, Katie says, they may discover surprising things about themselves, but in a gentle and holding spa environment. There are an awful lot of people out there who don’t know who they are... it makes them sad that they haven’t seen their true self for so long."
My aim is to move people into a place where they can ask: what do I want from life? To reconnect with desires, and come up with an action plan for life, she says. I’ve witnessed people create massive changes in less than two days.
Champneys Spa Resorts run a range of holistic retreats for those wishing to get their lives back on track through attending to all aspects of the self. There’s a two-night Attitude is All retreat with the flamboyant Tanya Wheway, where you can learn to live creatively and make an action plan for success, and a Make Life Easy retreat where you can rediscover your passion for living.
Sandi Clark has run the Bring Yourself Back into Your Life break with husband Mike Mayes for two years.
There are an awful lot of people out there who don’t know who they are, says Sandi. I often see the real person behind all the roles they’ve taken on, and it makes them sad that they haven’t seen their true self for so long.
Sandi and Mike train people to get in touch with their own ability to see and sense energy and begin to understand how their mood is affected by people, information and colour.
We teach them they’ve got choices, says Sandi. It’s really so simple, but so empowering. You don’t have to stay friends with someone if every time you see them, you feel drained. You don’t have to like everyone, and not everyone has to like you. Let them get on with it.
While these retreats have the advantage of specialist advice and guidance, you can achieve renewal in various ways during an ordinary spa day. The spa itself offers the security and nourishment to support your journey. It may also have useful treatments or classes to open up your mind to self-exploration.
One example: Sinéad De Hόra is an intuitive therapist who works at the Akasha Spa beneath the Café Royale in London. Sinéad reads your body and provides it with what it needs at that moment, then feeds back to you what she has learned. The things she picked up from me were impressive and invaluable: she saw I needed to declutter my life, take time for myself and access my creativity through being in nature. Beautiful! I went away and did just that. Or you could just book in for a mindfulness meditation class as part of your spa stay. Getting in touch with your body and feelings is essential to finding out what you really want: not a new car/hairdo, but a genuine need for deeper fulfilment.
As Sandi pointed out, when you’re at a spa you’re not being bombarded with information. You can really take the opportunity to look inward as well as reconnect to your senses: make sure you take a notebook to scribble down any thoughts that arise.