There's nothing quite like a spa to show that you really care. Even if you really don't! Any form of preening, pampering, massaging, manipulating or genuine enforced relaxation will be well received by, well, pretty much everyone. It feels great and it increases productivity, so what's not to like?
From a corporate perspective, spas have not only become more accessible but they have also become more acceptable as an integral part of a wide variety of conferences, away-days, conventions (go to one in Vegas and the spa is a necessity for recovery alone!) or, if you're really jammy, even training days. In today's busy world any form of downtime can be productively filled with a wholesome spa package which, if you think about it, is far more productive and rewarding than sending your delegates out on the town (aka out on the lash) after the formal aspect of the conference or event. Remember what the morning of the second day of a conference feels like? Yeah, that!
And anyway, just knowing the spa is there is comforting to many people. How often have you been to a top hotel and checked to see if there's a pool? I do it all the time, yet 90% of us never even discover where the pool is. It's just nice to know it's there because it means you're at a great hotel. For everyone except 10% of the guests though, it's utterly useless. Having said that, I'm actually one of the minority who doesn't need much of an excuse to squeeze on my skimpies and head down to the hot tub...alone!
Spas have become far more sophisticated these days too. Not in a technological or exclusive way though. In fact, quite the opposite. Spas are now more mainstream than ever before and are, as a result, far more welcoming and less elitist. The excellent spa at Center Parcs, itself a great destination for a wide variety of conferences and activity filled events, is a perfect example of a next generation spa facility - a tranquil oasis in an otherwise high spirited and vibrant, action packed pleasure dome and a perfect respite from....umm....unrelenting exercise-based fun!
So, we've established that a Spa is now so much more than a great gift or reward for annual excellence in the office! And I'm not being sexist when I say "If you know girls, you know they all love a spa. Without exception." - it's just the truth whichever way you look at it! However, it now transcends all stereotypes and a spa facility at your conference or any other kind of corporate excursion will make a big difference to everyone - in thought and word and deed! Try it some time. It's more affordable than you'll believe and you'd be surprised at just how well received it'll be. You may even notice a higher percentage of your delegates show up. Just saying...
Here are our top 10 venues with Spas in (and around) London:
1. Chewton Glen. As one of the most famous luxury get-always in the UK, Chewton Glen is a magnificent place with world class event facilities. When I was last there, celebrity chef, James Martin was packing up after attending an event the night before, revving up his (absolutely gorgeous) classic Ferrari in the forecourt. Apparently Chris Evans stays there a lot too, so it must be pretty damn good. Their beautiful treehouses are legendary as well. Cheryl Fernandez-Versini (or Cheryl Cole, because it's just easier!) was staying in one when I was last there too. Set in 130 acres of glorious Hampshire Countryside, on the edge of the New Forest, Chewton Glen is an excellent event destination that your delegates will never forget, with a fabulously palatial spa, of course!
Find out more about Chewton Glen
2. Cliveden. Steeped in rich and scheming history, the magnificent Cliveden is a magical and mysterious country house which has entertained everyone from Winston Churchill to Charlie Chaplin. It was also central to the Profumo affair. Newly restored, this exquisite hotel set in a whopping 386 Thames-side acres is a statement of intent to anyone entertaining here. Never out of fashion and always displaying refined grandeur, Cliveden is unashamedly elegantly decadent. Oh wait, I haven't even mentioned the spa! With indoor and outdoor pools as well as Canadian hot tubs (whatever they are) it's utterly awesome! As you'd expect...
Find out more about Cliveden
3. Center Parcs Woburn. Woburn is the new jewel in the Center Parcs multi-billion pound crown and within minutes of arriving you can see why. Whilst I recently wrote a detailed review, which you can read about here, I didn't actually get round to writing about the spa facilities - there was just too much else to do from the aerial adventure to the uber-fun Tropical Swimming Paradise. The spa a CPW though is, I'm told, excellent. Extensive yet not expensive, relaxing despite the waxing (I don't know if there's actually waxing, it just rhymes, OK!), the Aqua Sana spa at Center Parcs is a luxurious mecca in the heart of the Parc centred (or should it be, 'centered') around their 'around the World' theme and famous multi-sensory experiences...
Find out more about Center Parcs Woburn
4. The Bulgari Hotel. With a world class, twin storey centre of wellness, the Bulgari spa offers the most advanced beauty, grooming and health-enhancing treatments in London. They've even devised an array of long term life improvement programmes, tailored to each individual's specific needs. Five storeys below street level, the Bulgari spa is a million miles from the bustling heart of central London with steam rooms, saunas, an ice shower, eleven treatment rooms and even a 'dramatic vertical fireplace' (I'll guess you'll just have to go to find out what that is!)
Find out more about The Bulgari Hotel
5. The Landmark. This is actually one of my favourite London hotels for two reasons. Firstly, the Winter Garden atrium you suddenly find yourself immersed in when you walk in is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Secondly, it was the MI9 escaped prisoner of war debriefing centre during the Second World War when my school friend's Grandfather, Airey Neave was cross-examined having escaped from Colditz. Amazingly, their spa somehow lives up to all this! With a fifteen metre pool, saunas, steam rooms, a solarium and non chlorinated natural waters, the Landmark spa is one of the best in London.
Find out more about The Landmark
6. The May Fair. A modern classic, Mayfair's May Fair is a reborn icon with a popular bar, great restaurants, fabulous event spaces, a wonderful screening room and, notably, a really nice smell! The blissful May Fair Spa on the lower ground floor is like another world, seemingly a million miles away from the bustling Piccadilly and Bond Street above, both of which are just a few metres away. Location, location, relaxation is what you'll get at the May Fair Hotel.
Find out more about The May Fair
7. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. With 'his and her' spa packages in their aptly named Atlantis Spa, Fred. Olsen have an abundance of luxury spa and salon treatments from hydrating, nourishing and purifying facials to hot stone massages and body shaping, to really make you feel you're sailing off into the sunset! Perhaps hold a conference on board with spa treatment breakouts or, alternatively, why not give your company the Fred. Olsen Christmas treatment with their fabulous Christmas packages - it'd be something completely different!
Find out more about Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
8. The Royal Garden Hotel. At the Royal Albert Hall end of Kensington (that's the good end), you'll discover the Royal Garden Hotel. You know, the one with Bodo's Schloss underneath it? The hotel's newly refurbished 'Therapy Suite' is an excellent place to wind down after an intense conference session or corporate seminar (in their excellent event facilities) and with everything from full detox body wraps to luxury facials, manicures and pedicures there's something for everyone.
Find out more about The Royal Garden Hotel
9. The Athenaeum. A classical, unassuming and quintessentially British hotel, Hyde Park Corner's Athenaeum is a marvellously upmarket yet relaxed establishment situated at the base of London's most salubrious street, Park Lane. Affectionately known as their 'little corner of paradise', the spa at the Athenaeum is a delightful place to be pampered, buffed and polished. From the stress busting Elemis deep tissue massage to their bespoke Moroccan Rose Ritual, there are a wide range of treatments for you to look forward to at the end of a hard day of meetings.
Find out more about The Athenaeum
10. The Watergate Bay Hotel. Ok, so this isn't technically in or around London but, with flights twice a day from City airport to Newquay airport, which is less than five minutes away, this magical place is closer than you think! And it's got to be one of my favourite places in the entire UK. The hotel itself is like Soho House on sea (the interior was designed by the same people) and their Swim Club is the ultimate place to unwind, with magnificent views of Cornwall's most sensational beach-scape from the indoor infinity pool to the panoramic hot tub terrace outside. Watergate Bay is one of the best destinations in the UK for discerning corporate groups of up to 50 guests. Their restaurants, bars and private rooms are tranquil, well-appointed, inspirational and world-class and there's so much to do from beachfront dining in the Beach Hut to kite surfing or actual surfing at their in-house (well, on-beach) Extreme Academy. Each bedroom is unique and beautifully designed and the combination of such mesmerising surroundings with the refreshingly soothing sea air will completely knock your delegates out at the end of an exciting, unforgettable day! Everyone who stays there is cool too - it's just how it is! Check it out.
Find out more about The Watergate Bay Hotel