What is it about the festive period that makes us indulge so much when we know we’ll regret it? For the rest of the year, I’m up and out early every morning knocking on the door of the gym, watching what I eat and abstaining from any weekday tipples. But come Christmas my discipline falls by the wayside - it’s all mince pies and chocolates, more festive tipples than I know I should and whole days where I plop myself on the sofa and only move to snaffle another chocolate. By the time January 1st arrives I’m in an overfed slothenly state and so lunge into my health and fitness regime with renewed vigour….again! Sometimes however, I need a little bit of a helping hand which where a spa break is a lifesaver.
If you’ve indulged this festive period and are searching high and low for a new you, here are a few of my favourite places which may help in the search:
Long Haul: Chiva Som - Hua Hin, Thailand
They say that the old ones are always the best and that’s definitely true of Chiva Som which continues to stay at the top of its game; from a new body to a new soul, Chiva Som can help.
The resort is set in lush tropical gardens bordering a long stretch of beach and from the moment you arrive you feel part of the Chiva Som family; everyone knows your name and pretty petite Thai ladies follow you round with iced towels and the most divine lemon grass tea.
A week here is total spaced out holistic bliss. There's a daily schedule of activities as tightly packed as your six pack will be when you leave! Everything is on offer to buff you inside and out and the treatments combine ancient Eastern therapies with the latest Western techniques to encompass mind, body and spirit. The wellness consultants are big on diagnosing what’s wrong with you and prescribing what’s right for you mentally, physically and spiritually. In between treatments and work-outs you can wallow in hydro and plunge pools, saunas and steam rooms or just take to the beautiful outdoor pool.
The food (all low sodium, low calories, low sugar, what-free and organic) is totally delicious but, for the hard core you can try a liquid cleanse (I did but only managed 3 days) which is remarkably easier to do when you’re away from the temptations and stresses of home.
Chiva Som is a place of calm: no mobiles, no laptops and the type of serenity that the Thais do so well. I have to admit that a week here really did reinvent me; with time to ponder life in between a myriad of treatments for both my body and mind, I returned de-stressed and cleansed inside and out.
Short haul: Les Sources de Caudalie - Bordeaux, France
Now wine for me is something I like to indulge in but, I’m always made to feel guilty about drinking it in case I go over my recommended allowance. So, when I had the chance to indulge in wine in a purely healthy and non-guilty way it sounded like a winner!
Les Sources de Caudalie is set in the grounds of the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte estate overlooking Grand Cru class vines that stretch as far as the eye can see. From afar, it looks like a medieval hamlet but on closer inspection it’s a spa that’s as modern as can be with lots of cool stone, wood and a delightful serenity.
The spa was set up to take advantage of 2 things the vineyard has to offer: Firstly, as luck would have it, there’s a natural thermal spring running underneath it, rich in minerals and trace elements. Secondly, the anti-oxidant qualities of polyphenols found in wine grape by products are renown for fighting free radicals and therefore excellent in fight ageing.
Instead of your usual mud wraps and seaweed scrubs, all the treatments are based around grapes and wine-making from barrel baths to merlot wraps or how about pulp friction where you’re massaged to within an inch of your life with fresh grapes. Then there’s the Grand Cru facial which really did deliver on erasing the lines and leaving me glowing. You can have individual treatments are take part in one of the Cures or Rituals; programmes to combat ageing, provide total relaxation, brighten and revive or to promote weight loss. Despite the “beauty” nature of the treatments, over half the guests were male when I visited.
When the sun shines there’s an outdoor lap pool (as well and an indoor pool), a gym, bikes to hire, and a running path through the woods. Or, maybe take a cellar tour at the winery.
On the food front there are 2 restaurants - you can be as strict as you please at the La Table du Lavoir which offers healthy low calorie food, whilst the gastronomique La Grand'Vigne restaurant offers fine dining washed down with splendid wine.
Wonderful food, a beautiful setting, age-defying beauty treatments and hours of pampering with the shopping delights of Bordeaux only 20 minutes’ drive away - what more could you ask for?
At home: The Cowshed Spa at Babington House - Frome, Somerset
Okay, this is more of a pampering spa than one where you’ll shed pounds and return a completely different person. But sometimes all we need is some R&R and a little TLC to make us feel on top of the world again. And, when it’s combined with a night or 2 at Babington House I’m usually in heaven!
The Spa is set in the grounds of the house and it overlooks a pretty Victorian walled garden. It’s split into Cowshed Active for the energetic types (indoor pool, gym equipment, sauna and steam rooms) and Cowshed Relax for pure indulgence. The Relax side is all very cosseting and beautifully done in a retro chic meets potting shed feel. Treatments include facials, manicures, massages and body scrubs. I can recommend the Vitamin C facial for making your skin glow, the Salt Scrub and a Moody Massage for leaving your body soft, smooth and in a jelly like form. However, if you visit as a couple, book the mud room and a soak; you're led to a private steam room where you apply three types of muds to each other, before relaxing in beautifully scented steam. After washing away the mud, you're taken to a huge stand alone, bubbling bath and left to your own devices with a bucket of exfoliating bath salts!
The grounds are a perfect place for a walk; pop on a pair of the provided wellies (Hunters of course) and maybe ask the kitchen for a picnic basket. Or take a swim in the heated outdoor pool - I still smile when I think of swimming in it on a December morning; no one but me, the sound of birds and the mist rising over the Somerset countryside, bliss!
Once you’re feeling refreshed and pampered and glowing from your stroll in the countryside, you can mix with the media types in the bar and dine on good hearty food in the restaurant before returning to your cosy room; designer luxe with quirky touches and oodles of Cowshed products for more pampering. Once visited you'll want to return.
If you want any further information on the spa breaks above or fancy something more specific to your needs like a detox holiday or yoga retreat then please feel free to contact me on 07734 540914 or email me at: email@example.com