There was a time when heading off to a summer festival meant a mud-encrusted weekend with no sight of a shower, bar the odd downpour.
But the cash-strapped teenagers of the 1980s and 90s have morphed into aspirational and high achieving 30 and 40-somethings who are completely over slumming it, preferring to pay a little extra for some luxe creature comforts while listening to their favourite headline acts.
Latitude’s Yurtel experience comes complete with a cocktail bar, à la carte restaurant and kids’ cinema as well as its own eponymous spa.
The stakes have been raised even further at Glastonbury where Camp Kerala, a Vogue favourite, boasts Shikar tents from Jaipur offering boutique style accommodation as well as a chic chill out area with resident mixologist. Fluffy white embossed bath robes, a full range of skincare products and a browse through the treatment menu while sitting on an overstuffed pink sofa with an Aperol spritzer in hand – a far cry from the 50-deep queue for a cold shower next to the dreaded Portaloos!
Not to be outdone, the Somerset Festival’s neighbouring Pop-Up Hotel also tempts with Elemis-trained therapists and a quirky line in milkshake hair conditioning treatments – albeit at eye-wateringly expensive prices. The less well known festivals on the circuit are the savvy choice for luxe at a fraction of the cost.
Former boat-builder Martin Dean founded Kernow Springs Roaming Eco Spa with his wife Nicola two years ago having noticed that festival goers were choosing to party hard and pamper even harder.
The Cornwall-based father of two built a couple of wood-fired hot tubs for his garden and word rapidly spread, sending demand soaring to the point where he established a travelling spa sanctuary to cater to the West Country’s local festivals.
‘I built the first few hot tubs as a hobby and for us to use as a family, and people started asking me to build more,’ says Martin. ‘We love going to festivals and I felt Cornwall really needed this so we developed the Roaming Eco Spa.’
The spa offers two large wood-fired hot tubs, a six-person wood-fired sauna yurt, hot and cold showers, male and female changing yurts and a Bedouin Moroccan chill out lounge where people can relax after their spa treatment.
At £20 for a two-hour session, the slots – which are reserved and paid for online – sell out well in advance to a clientele encompassing five to 75 year olds. You can also book a hot tub for your own exclusive use for £100. ‘Some couples do that as a treat,’ Martin adds.
‘We don’t employ therapists, although the therapists who also work at the festivals often use our facilities,’ Martin says.
‘The festival crowd has really moved on from the days of slumming it in the mud and so have the organisers. We regulate our water quality, monitor the chemical levels every two hours and we clean and sanitise the tubs, refilling them with clean water after 10 hours of use.’
A private 50-metre area is fenced off with bamboo and clients sign in for their spa time at the reception tent manned by Martin’s wife Nicola.
‘We have had some wonderful spots on the cliffs overlooking the sea and in the sand dunes,’ says Martin. ‘When you reach reception, you hear lounge music and step away from the festival craziness into our relaxing domain. People enter another world for a couple of hours and leave it feeling totally refreshed.’
Nigel Greenwood is another spa convert. His outdoor events company SO Sussex gave birth to the Elderflower Fields Family Festival in 2012. Partnered by Green People Organic, the May weekender is held in a protected woodland habitat in the idyllic setting of Pippingford Park, East Sussex. Together with Woodlands Spa, Nigel has created the perfect indulgent and family friendly day out.
‘The spa aspect was very much part of the first festival we ever held,’ says Nigel. ‘If kids are happy, their parents can let loose too. We thought long and hard about what parents might want from
‘Our crowd is not typical festival goers. They used to go when they were younger but are now 40 or 50-something, often with young kids and are looking for something a bit different to a rave-y drunken, mud-splattered time.
‘They want something more comforting and safe. The majority enjoy a certain lifestyle and their expectations have moved on. They use spas and book treatments as part of their everyday life.’
With six teepees offering Swedish massage, hot stone massage, deep tissue massage, aromatherapy, shiatsu and reflexology, guests first check in at the colourful welcome tent where they can sit on a hay bale and chat to the therapist about what they want. Adds Nigel: ‘It’s a very wild, natural and relaxing place with the sound of birds in the trees.’
With around 150 treatments on offer over the three-day event, slots sell out fast and this year, Woodlands increased its programme to include fitness and yoga sessions.
It’s reassuring to know that at a very reasonable £45 for a 60-minute treatment, an escape from festival madness doesn’t have to break the bank.
‘We have some very good therapists who charge more in their own practise but are happy to lower their price here because they don’t get the volume of people they get with us,’ explains Nigel. ‘A spa is the obvious choice when you have the time to relax.’
It’s hard to imagine what could be more decadent than lying in a yurt enjoying a relaxing hot stone massage as you listen to the birds singing, knowing that your favourite band is a mere hop and a skip away.