* Prices may differ from that shown
I started going to Henlow Grange at the age of 16 (which is the youngest you can go) and I went every year for 9 years. Started with a 2 night break, then 3, 4 and then managed to extend my stays to a week.
I started going to Henlow with family members who decided to go for a second time so didn't really choose to visit Henlow as oppose to other Champneys resorts.
Henlow Grange is in Bedfordshire. Part of the building is a Georgian house which has been extended to include a newer building.
I have stayed in a double and triple room during my stays and also tried economy and standard rooms. There is not much difference between the rooms except for the price. The economy rooms were slightly smaller, smaller bathrooms and tended to be in the more difficult areas of the building (for example one economy room was up two very narrow flights of stairs near some treatment rooms so had lots of coming and going throughout the day) I would choose to stay in the cheaper room to have more money to spend on treatments. They all have the same beds/mattresses, tv, decor .
In older building there is the conservatory which is quite large and have clusters of sofas for guests to lounge around. There is also a small coffee bar and formal sitting room here where you can buy drinks and cake. There is the main restaurant in the newer section that serves all meals and also has a small coffee bar and seating area where again you can buy drinks and cakes and this over looks the swimming pool.
The breakfast and lunch are buffet. Breakfast has a selection of fruit, cereal,breads, yoghurt. You can also purchase a cooked breakfast if you want to. Lunch has a large salad cart and hot buffet which will have a carbohydrate, protein and vegetarian option. You can go up as many times as you like for these meals. They are constantly refilled and the food is fresh and hot. You don't need to book a table for breakfast but you do need to book a time for lunch and dinner.
Dinner is a sit down meal with menu. There are three choices for the starter, main and dessert. All dishes have detailed nutritional information available and although a health spa they do have a choice of unhealthy dishes should you choose to. I have never ever been left hungry here!
Generally you get a treatment per night of your stay. 1 night = 1 treatment included, 2 nights = 2 treatments and so on. Generally the included treatments are full body massage, facial, thalosotherapy sessions. On arrival you are given your calendar for your stay and this details what time your treatments have been book for. When you have a treatment you go to the treatment seating area and wait for your therapist to come and call you. The treatment room is very busy at change over times (every half an hour) but other than that very quiet. I have never had a bad treatment here, yes some therapists are better than others but I have enjoyed every one. I particularly like the dry floatation ( like a water mattress)
There is a board in the treatment waiting area that also details any special offers or late availability. You can also request male or female therapists and also if you have a favourite therapist you can make a request for them to do other treatments you may have books and they will do this if they can.
There is a large swimming pool and hot tub. In the changing room there is a steam and sauna room. There are plenty of towels and lockers available in the changing room. There are also hair dryers and cleanser, toner and moisturiser available to use.
There is a small shop that has some clothing, nail, make up and skin care products as well as magazines. There is a hair studio and tanning room (I havent used either of these)
Henlow offer a range of talks on nutrition, exercise, life goals which are led by various members of staff.
The reason I visit Henlow again and again - I enjoy the ability to completely relax without children. There are many places I can go to, the conservatory, restaurant, cafe, swimming pool, gym, exercise class, treatment or just lay around in my room or outside on a sun lounger (weather permitting) I never get board here, i love the food, love the treatments and it is a social activity for me. I am currently planning my next trip for next year after a couple of years break and can not wait. I would recommend it to anyone.
Very nice relaxing time. Lovely pool and treatments. However, several people complained there are not enough places to sit around the pool. You need to sort this Champneys!
Before staring university my mum and I decided we wanted to do something special just the two of us, and we were over the moon when we heard that Champneys offered a special mother and daughter break, as neither of us have ever been to a spa before. Champneys have four resorts in the UK and all of them offer residential packages and day experiences, but I would recommend checking the promotional section on their website as they regularly offer both type at discounted prices.
The 2 night mother and daughter break is a regular promotion that is offered each year around mother's day at all resorts, with one guest paying full price while the other receives 50% off. The package includes 3 treatments per person, breakfast, lunch and dinner, 2 nights accommodation, full use of the facilities and daily fitness and relaxation classes. Prices start from £299.85 per room but vary depending on the resort and the choice of room, prices are inclusive of VAT.
We choice to stay at Henlow Grange as it was the closest to my mum, located in Bedfordshire just of J13 of the M1. Henlow Grange is a gorgeous Georgian mansion, situated in 150 acres of peaceful and tranquil countryside. Driving up to the entrance we were both in awe of the beautiful building and I cannot fault it or the impressive grounds, but unfortunately the inside isn't quite as impressive. Everywhere is clean and the rooms are beautiful with opulent upholstered furniture and hand painted walls but the corridors and communal areas seem to lack a certain charm that would complement the impressive building.
All around the grounds were the friendliest ducks ever that frequently came right up to our room's patio door and looked right in at us, obviously used to being fed by guests. In the centre of the ground floor is a small closed of courtyard where a mummy duck had 10/11 tiny cute little ducklings. In with the ducks, amongst trees and shrubs, were bowls of food and a small little fountain and watching them wash has to be one of the most adorable things I've ever seen!
Both checking in and out was swift and efficient and I found the staff there to be helpful and always polite. On arrival we received a pack that contained a free pen and note paper, leaflets on the evening talks, promotional information, timetable and info on classes, an identity card and a personal timetable of our treatments. Unfortunately Champneys arrange when each treatment takes place and in some cases they may clash with classes you wish to take part in or be soon after arrival or close to departure. Luckily our timetable was evenly spread out over the 3 days and worked perfectly for us both.
Champneys Henlow Grange offers a choice of rooms: Standard, Superior, Premier or Suite. All are fitted with an en suite, colour TV, DVD player, hairdryer, a telephone and toiletries. The Superior rooms are located on the ground floor with a patio, or in the original Georgian mansion house on the second floor, they also come with complimentary Champneys robes. The Premier rooms are more spacious with a fruit basket on arrival whilst the suites are more luxurious, spacious and individually styled.
We opted for a twin superior room and stayed in Room 43, situated on the ground floor. The beds were lovely and comfortable so the only thing that kept us awake was our nonstop chatting. The room opened out onto a small private patio area with table and chairs, and the view out was amazing. Opposite was a beautiful trickling waterfall with ducks swimming and not another building or any road in sight; totally tranquil and picturesque.
~~~What to wear~~~
Most guest during the day wear towelling robes, either their own or those provided by Champneys, and slippers. What you wear under your robe is up to you, but most people opt for swimwear. Many people I know have commented that this feels strange to start with but we instantly clicked into it, as both my mum and I would live in dressing gowns if it was sociably acceptable! Robes are acceptable anywhere in the building and breakfast and lunch but guests are required to get dressed for the evening meal, in 'smart casual' clothes.
Swimwear is also needed for the pool areas and comfortable clothes, that you can easily move in are required if you want to take part in any of the free classes. For treatments you will either be provided with an unflattering paper thong, or can roll down your swimming costume if preferred.
Include a beautiful 25m indoor pool and Jacuzzi; the pool area is Grecian themed and very clean when we stayed. I had been slightly worried as before I had read reviews that the pool was poorly kept but I can honestly say the neither my mum nor I noticed any problems in terms of cleanliness. The pool itself is a perfect even depth; deep enough to swim in whilst being shallow enough to stand during aqua fitness classes, and never over crowded. Lockers are provided in the changing rooms, which are spacious and also clean, equipped with a Laconium heat room, herbal steam chamber and sauna.
There is also a small gym available, with bikes, cross trainers, treadmills and a stepper and two fitness studios where the fitness and relaxation classes take place.
The weather was beautiful when we went and many people chose to spend the majority of the day sunbathing on the loungers along by the river that runs through the grounds or swimming in the pool. However, each day Henlow offer a full timetable of free activities that are relaxed, fun and informal. They offer intense fitness classes such as spinning and cardio blast, as well as outdoor running and cycling. They also offer tennis, aqua aerobics and circuit training, as well as the more calm yoga and pilates. We tried as many as possible, my mum' personal favourite was a salsa dance class, suitable for all abilities, whilst I loved aqua fit and the 'better backs' workshop where I picked up lots of tips and exercises to help my slight lower back pain.
The evenings are relaxing and very quiet, personally I would recommend taking a book or magazine to keep you occupied, but DVDs are available for hire from reception. There are also evening talks available, which are usually on such subjects as palmistry, and general wellbeing. We opted not to attend these though, preferring to chat and giggle with a bottle of wine that we sneaked in or to read our books.
Now for the best bit of the whole spa experience... The majority of day and residential packages have inclusive treatments; the more expensive packages usually have a choice of more exotic treatments whilst the cheaper packages usually include a basic 25min Champneys massage and facial. The mother and daughter package included a 25 mins facial, massage and a Thalassothearaphy pool session.
It is possible to book additional treatments either online or in writing on top of your package, if there is a particular treatment that you want then I would recommend booking in advance. However, if like us you're not too fussy and love a bargain then it is possible to book treatments whilst at the spa, as in the spa reception there is a board full of that day's special offers and it is possible to get fantastic bargains. Of course, booking while there you do run the risk of nothing being available, but we went mid week and where able to book 2 additional treatments each.
A wide variety of treatments are available at Henlow Grange; everything I could ever think of. I have since spent hours on their website dreaming about which treatments I'll have when I can afford to go back again! They offer relaxing treatments for the body, such as wraps, massages, and flotations; treatments designed to tone and shape the body, some of which promise loss in centimetres and a wide variety of facials to suit all skin types and ages. They also offer treatments aimed at lifestyle and mind, such as aromatherapy, physic healing, colour analysis and Iridology (a reading of your Iris!). On top of these treatments they also offer many 'finishing touches' treatments, for example manicures, pedicures, waxing and make-up application.
Massage and Facial - I was a bit worried that our included massage and facial would feel rushed as each lasted only 25mins each and previously my other massages had been an hour long. But I was totally wrong; I lost all concept of time and entered pure heaven!
Thalassotheraphy - I was very excited about this treatment as I had no idea what to expect and the website stated it was an excellent treatment for cellulite! They also claim that it is effective in treating arthritis and general muscular and joint aches and pains too. However, it is one of those treatments where you need a few sessions for any effect but it was certainly great fun, and I must have burnt lots of calories from laughter alone. It's a shared treatment, my mum and I were with another mother and daughter team and three friends, together we all entered a mineral rich warm pool with hydrotherapy jets that stimulate and tone tired aching muscles. The pool is fitted with a series of different stations each aimed at targeting a different area: at one we had to walk round in circles against a strong resistance aimed at boosting metabolism, and along one wall is a series of different jets at different heights, but the most hilarious station was a jet shower. The shower jet was POWERFUL, and you could not only feel it above water but under too, nearly every time someone first got under it they ended up spaying water on everyone opposite. Certainly not a treatment to take too seriously, our group was almost hysterically laughing by the end of it.
Rasul - was the first additional treatment we booked and we had £10 off reducing the price to £20 each. The treatment, which lasts 45mins, is another shared treatment and is exclusive to Henlow Grange and Forest Mere. It is best described as, "Mud, glorious mud!" The treatment takes place in a specially designed chamber that seats up to 4 people (you can book the chamber privately but at a much higher cost; ideal of couples as when shared the treatment is single sex.) We all got naked and put on the sexy paper thongs provided, not a great look but surprisingly comfy. Inside we were instructed to cover our faces, necks and breasts in white mud and to smother the rest of us in the brown mud, which was smooth but with exfoliating grit. Once covered in mud and sitting down, the lights switched off and the domed ceiling lighted up with dim tiny stars, then scented steam filling the chamber (not too hot) and relaxing music played. At the end of the session "tropical rain" fell from the ceiling and we washed the mud off. This treatment is definitely fun but there is also an instantly noticeable effect, as the combined benefits of mud and steam left my skin feeling utterly fantastic. I cannot recommend this treatment enough, defiantly a 'must have'.
Unwind and Soothe Wrap - lasts 25mins and cost £32. The therapist begins by body brushing your skin, and then rubs aromatherapy oils all over the body, and then wraps you in cling film. To start with a felt a bit like a turkey but I soon relaxed as whilst being wrapped up, the therapist gave me a heavenly scalp massage. You get to keep your body brush after the treatment.
I found that the therapists at Henlow to be friendly and welcoming, without being too chatty, which allows you to enjoy the treatments and relax without having to think too hard about making small talk. Some treatments aren't suitable for all, for example the rasul isn't recommend for those with diabetes or those pregnant. I would advise checking online first before booking additional treatments; any inclusive treatments that aren't suitable can be switched for something else.
Many people are worried that the food at health spas are bland and equivalent to rabbit food but I can assure you that this isn't the case, the food was divine! Personally I felt that the food was a true highlight of the whole experience; whilst everything served was nutritious it was delicious too. Breakfast is buffet style with a wide variety of choice; I had melon, other fresh fruit and toast, with a cup of tea and fresh fruit juice. Lunch is a hot and cold buffet but the choice of food is amazing; different fishes, chicken, curries, breads, a wide variety of salads, rice, new potatoes and plenty of other options too; I completely ignored the signs indicating calories and the correct mix of fibre, protein and carb, and went up both days for a second helping.
Dinner is the true highlight and is a three course balanced meal; for each course there is about five or six options. The food was all beautifully presented and I cannot fault it, and I'm quite a fussy eater. To give you an idea of what's on offer: the first night I had caesar salad, lamb on garlic mash with veg and mint jue, followed by mango yogurt ice cream with watermelon; the desert was heavenly and very refreshing. The second night I had: a small serving of organic duck on rocket with passion fruit sauce, then chicken with roasted parsnip, butter nut squash and other veg with a red wine jue, and for desert mango ice cream again...yum yum. The portions are relatively small but I found them to be very filling.
Wine is served with the evening meal at an additional cost but they state that 'alcohol consumption should be kept to a minimum', which is to be expected at any health resort. Additional snacks are sold at the shop but I would recommend sneaking stuff in as it's far cheaper. At each meal there was plenty of choice for vegetarians but if kosher food is required 21 days notice is needed and a supplement will be charged.
Overall I cannot recommend Henlow Grange highly enough, we had a fantastic time. I feel that whilst it is an expensive treat we certainly got our money's worth, never have I felt more relaxed and pampered, I didn't want it to end. I can't wait to go back to Champneys and it's a treat that I hope to have again in the future, but I think that next time I shall try one of the other resorts just as a point of comparison.
After suffering a bout of stress and being considerably over weight, I decided to join an aerobics class. I continued with this each week and soon found I felt much better.
A couple of months later, my aerobics teacher made an announcement that there would be an outing to a Health Farm for Christmas. Instead of being entertained at a restaurant, we would be beautifully pampered and spoiled for a day.
A full day was going to cost around £85. I was going to have a body massage, facial massage using essential oils, manicure and pedicure with leg and foot massage and unlimited use of all facilities.
The free daily programme of various health activities were, also, a bonus, which I found extremely enjoyable. They gave the freedom of doing exactly what you wanted, such as; aerobics, step aerobics, dance, yoga, water aerobics, stretching, tummy exercises, line dancing and country walks. The facilities were excellent. You had the choice of either using the sauna or steam room, or relaxing in a whirlpool. There is, also, a swimming pool and an excellent gym that has a brilliant variety of exercising equipment.
Also, included in this price, was tea or coffee in the morning, a three course buffet lunch, and afternoon tea. The food was healthy with a variety of delicious menus. Carrot cake was one of their finest deserts and seemed to be popular to many of the guests.
We arrived early in the morning and were shown around. After being shown to our lockers and rest rooms, where we were able to leave our belongings and change, we were taken to the restaurant to have coffee or tea. Whilst there, we were given a time table of all activities and were told to make appointments for treatments as soon as we were finished.
There are other extras such as, a hairdresser salon, leg waxing, sun beds and head massages etc. We were told that we would have to book these in the morning and then pay for them afterwards, as they are not included in the overall price.
The first activity I had decided to do was the morning country walk. This was refreshing and energetic. The fresh air outside and the fast energizing walk began to stimulate my muscles. Afterwards, many of us decided to take our coffee break, which was more satisfying, as you sat talking to your friends.
After, I attended a stretch class. The atmosphere and mixture of men and women of all ages was delightful and relaxing. The stretching exercises were equally inspiring, especially for my legs, as they had ached from my walk.
After lunch, some of us changed into our robes that you can hire for about £1.50 and attended our treatments. My body massage was intense and delightful. I thought it was the most relaxing treatment of all. It took all my stresses away and made my skin feel smooth and soft again. I was asked if I had any preferences on where I wanted to be massaged. I said that I did not want my tummy treated. I felt less apprehensive about the massage after I had been asked this, as I had not been sure what to expect.
The massage and facial made me feel calm and almost, drunk in a way. My advice is to relax after this massage. Try to have your massage after lunch, as it gives you time in the morning to enjoy the classes. Then you can continue the day relaxing with the massages and manicures, and any other extras you may want.
At the end of the day, I went to the yoga class for beginners. I have never tried yoga before and I was keen to try it. It made me feel calm. So, I decided I would try to attend a yoga class each week to help me with my stress.
There are, also, rooms if you want to stay for a night or two. If you do, the programme of daily exercise classes are different each day. Staying one or two nights may give you the chance of trying many other classes that may not have been available the day before.
If you feel stressed and want to get healthy, then why not start off by arranging a day or even one night at a Health Farm, such as Henlow Grange in Bedfordshire. It could make the world of difference for you and your future just as it did for me. This would, also, be a great thing to do if you need to loose a some weight, but do not know how to go about it. A visit to a Health Farm could help you to get into the mode of exercising and how to arrange your daily routine in order for you to loose those few pounds.
I have been here twice now, but only on a day package. It is a fabulous day and you come out feeling refreshed, relaxed and healthy. My next plan is to go for the night.
Coming here was completely worth while for me and I would definitely recommend it to anyone. Especially, if you either feel stressed or want to treat someone to a gift for Christmas, because you can buy gift vouchers to visit a Health Farm. Why not treat yourself to sort out your pre-wedding months for your beauty and weight management before the big event!
You can also read my review at www.ciao.co.uk
I love Henlow Grange. I first went there with my mother on a mother daughter deal (the daughter goes half price and we both got free treatments), and then went again last year in October. It is the perfect holiday for me since I love living the life I imagine rich people to have and enjoy pampering myself. I also enjoy the not getting dressed thing. You just roll out of bed, don a dressing gown for the day and head off for your treatments. The only exception is putting on a swim suit for the spa area, although apparently some feel the need to put on sweats and head off for the gym to punish themselves. If this is your thing then fine but there really is no need to exert yourself. My philosophy is that you're there for a holiday and shouldn't be punishing yourself if that's not something you derive masochistic pleasure from. I mean, how many inches can you really take off your arse measurement in a few aerobics classes? Not much. So what's the point? You may as well take yourself to the treatment area and see what the days special offers are. The only exception to my lazy approach to Henlow Grange was on my last visit when I discovered a rather tasty aerobics instructor and stayed on through 4 consecutive classes (including a dance class where we learnt the steps to Kylie's "Can't get you out of my head" - most enjoyable exercise I've ever done). Sad I know but stuck in a health spa full of women, you need to take your ogles where you can get them. So, after that thorough recommendation you'll want to know why you need to go. Well having read other reviews on this there are much more informative articles on the everyday aspects. This review is about the three most crucial parts? "How to keep costs down" "What treatments to book in for" and of course "How to survive if you?re a chocoholic" How to keep costs down Henlow Grange is expensive. Althou
gh the stays are within the price range of most middle EEnglanders, the treatments can really push the bill up. The hairdressers is particularly excessive. A wash cut and blow dry would set you back about £40 if memory serves. I was interested in highlights and nearly had a heart attack when I saw the price. This might go some way towards explaining why I never saw anyone in there. The only time I have ventured beyond the price list was to ask how much their shampoos were (some fiend had stolen my Aussie shampoo and conditioner from the showers). £10 I was told. Not bad I thought, then she handed me a bottle the size of an eye dropper. The treatments are also a bit pricey so it's best to get a deal (more later) which includes some basic treatments, then you can supplement these with other treatments if you feel the need. Solution - check out the Mail on Sunday. You may not enjoy it but do it anyway. They frequently (every couple of months, usually out of season) have offers such as 'Buy one get one half price' (it might make you feel like a tube of toothpaste in Sainsbury's but it'll save you £100s), or mother daughter deals. With these deals, you usually get a back massage and facial included in the price. That brings us to the other strange aspect of booking Henlow Grange stays, you can plan out how you intend to fritter your money months before you even get in the car. Treatments are booked way in advance of your stay. Extras can be bought once you're there but usually at least two days in advance apart from the odd one off treatment on offer (more later). Most of these treatments are expensive so it's best to pick an offer which gives you a few essential basics - manicure, pedicure facial, back massage - and maybe supplement with a couple of extras if you can afford it. Of course you might be one of those super rich women you see there and book yourself in for 3 weeks and "one of everything" (abo
ut £1800 worth) but if you're like me, a little money saving helps. If you time it well, you may have the option of a student manicure or pedicure, a bargain at £15 a piece (usually around £30). They're just as good as the pros, in fact they usually take more time over it and don't make you feel like you're on a conveyor belt. As for all the other treatments, it's up to you. Prices range from £20 for half hour manicures, pedicures, facials, etc, to up to £100 for 90 minute massages and body treatments. In my experience, you get what you pay for to a point. I am often left feeling a little hard done by after a 25 minute, £25 manicure and find myself envying the women having the 90 minute 'Luxury Jessica' at £50. However, I have also squandered a fair bit of cash on expensive treatments that did nothing for me. The order form describes each one but my recommendation (one that I will be following myself in future) is to go for the relaxing, 'nice' treatments rather than the therapeutic anti cellulite detoxifying ones which tend to be a little violent (more later). 2. What treatments to book in for Some of the treatments are scary. If you fear the therapist then stick to the commonplace treatments. My visits to Henlow Grange always require at least one extra, expensive, disappointing and ultimately scary treatment. The first time round I did a double whammy, both as a result of the specials board. Every morning the treatment area offers reduced priced treatments in any time slots they still have available. My first visit I had done all my booked treatments by the end of the second day so with my nails beautifully manicured and my muscles nicely massaged I signed up for a thalassotherapy session. The leaflet in the treatment area described it as a 'seaweed treatment that tones the legs and reduces cellulite'. Fantastic I thought. Goodbye orange peel thighs. The £43 seemed a me
re trifle. So there I was two hours later, lying on a treatment table with my upper body wrapped in blankets an d my lower half being slathered in a tea tree, menthol and seaweed gel. As my legs slowly begin feel cool the therapist informs me she is going to leave me to "relax" for 25 minutes. Relax? Right. With my legs increasingly beginning to feel like they had just had liquid nitrogen poured over them I really didn't feel like relaxing. Sure enough 25 minutes later my therapist appeared. "Alright?" she inquires chirpily. "Of course I'm not alright you psychotic idiot. My legs are developing frost bite!" I thought... "Fine!" I replied. On returning to our room my mother peers with interest at my goosepimply thighs. "Did it do anything?" she asks. "Well it's made them colder." I replied. So thalassotherapy was to be avoided. Lesson learned. Move on. On my last day there I was once again loitering in the treatment area with no therapist to go to. The specials board was offering a hot paraffin wax bath. That sounds fun I thought. Always wanted to try one of those. So two hours later I find myself being handed a paper thong by what appears to be a Russian shot-putter with instructions to put it on and lie face down on the plastic covered bed. Feeling vaguely like a prostitute being given instructions by a perverted client (not that I'd know that feeling) I comply and then lie there not really knowing what to do with my hands. I decide that down by my sides is best and lie there feeling vaguely uncomfortable about being largely naked. Curious noises emanate from the curtain around my bed and then the shot-putter emerges with a bucket. With no introductions or warning a large slab-handed handful of boiling hot wax is scooped up and slapped onto my buttocks. After the initial shock of this and the embarrassment of having this woman slapping all
my wobbly bits with wax I begin to enjoy the sensation. Anyone whose every poured wax onto their hands and then left it to go dry will know what I mean. "Turn over" I am instructed and my thighs, stomach and breasts are done (hot wax on the nipples sir? Ooo!). A few touch ups later (with wax I mean) and the shot-putter was happy. I was then wrapped in a sheet of plastic. Then a blanket, then another. Finally a towel is wrapped around my head and under my chin forming a sort of wimple. I now resemble one of those Egyptian mummies that has had the face part unwrapped. The shot-putter informs me she is not going to leave me for 30mins to let the "toxins sweat out" (lovely). After 2 minutes I realise that this time period is 28 minutes too long. Wriggling fingers and toes and moving my head from side to side is the only movement I can manage. Arms and legs are anchored with congealing wax and tightly wrapped plastic and blankets. Through wriggling fingers and toes, spaces have formed between the wax coating and my skin, and sweat slowly begins to pool in these spaces, squishing about whenever I move. I can feel sweat prickling on my face but, having no fingers to scratch, I can only content myself by contorting my face in an effort to rub parts of it on the towel. After 10 minutes of desperately trying to get the towel to an itch on my nose the towel slips off from under my chin. Eventually the shot-putter returns. "How are you?" she asks briskly, "Fine!" I reply happy that it's over. "I'm just going to get someone else wrapped up then I'll be through to check again.? Oh joy. Before she left I did at least manage to get the towel rewrapped and my nose scratched. The best thing about this treatment was the end of it. The shot-putter takes hold of your wax armour at the neck and then peels it off almost in one piece. The joy of the cool air hitting your skin and the
sight of your breasts in relief, followed by the tepid shower (cold would be too much) was almost orgasmic. An hour later I emerge and meet Mother in reception. "You look like shit" she tells me. You'd think that trip taught me a lesson. No. On my latest trip I spent considerable amounts of time dithering on the order form about which extra treatment I would have. After last time I had made a resolution to go for the full body aromatherapy massage that my mother had raved about, but no. I head straight for the one that advertises a cellulite reducing power, the Body Gold. All very mysterious. The description mentioned something about lymph glands which all sounded rather serious, and it cost £50 for an hour. The Body Gold turns out to be a machine attached to a pair of trousers and a belt( similar to the one boxers win) by a series of tubes. I was told by the therapist that the machine pumps water into the compartments in the trousers and belt in a cycle which squeezes the lymph glands and encourages them to move fat around, and ultimately out of, the body. Following this explanation I was rather left wondering where the fat goes to. Does it ooze out of one's nose overnight or float off into the atmosphere? Still, I stepped gamely into my trousers and donned the belt, then lay down on the bed. The machine started and I then experience one of the strangest hours of my life. Once the machine was running the therapist checked the chambers were filling and emptying correctly and then told me she'd be back after 30 minutes. I chose to be propped up reading a magazine. Apparently most women chose to lie back and relax. Call me Miss Paranoid but I was far too worried about being squeezed to death by a Body Gold machine gone mad. It's a powerful little thing. If you can imagine someone sitting on your foot (except it's all round your foot, not just on top squeezing down) and then getting up and sitting
on your shin, then your knee, then your thigh, then getting up and going to the foot again, that's pretty much what it does. In fact, next time, I'm just going to pay my boyfriend to squeeze my legs for an hour. The strangest part was the belt. It moved in a circular motion and left one with the feeling that ones stomach was steadily being pushed around to the back and left me feeling a little lopsided for the rest of the day. Any less cellulite? Ah well you'd need a course of several treatments of course, but at £50 a session I think I'll stick with the cellulite. As per usual with these treatments it all looks very good on paper, but the reality is a healthy diet and plenty of exercise is probably the fastest method of getting a smaller bottom (except for lipo that is). How to survive if you?re a chocoholic Do what my Mum and I do. Take a carrier bag full of chocolate with you and keep it in your room! We felt rather naughty and half expected the staff on reception to confiscate it, but the reality is that Henlow Grange is a healthy place serving delicious healthy food, but if you are determined to maintain your fat trucker tendencies, they're not going to stop you. They've even started stocking cake at the coffee bar. The food is fabulous though. Healthy without being overly heavy on the muesli and lettuce. A buffet style breakfast where you have a huge selection of choices from cereals and porridge, to fruit, toast and even healthy hot breakfasts like scrambled egg. Lunch is buffet style again with hot dishes like stew and stir fry, plus hefty and delicious salads, with plenty of fresh bread rolls, and fruit, yoghurt and rice pudding for desert. Evening meals are ordered from a small menu (with two or three choices including vegetarian) served to the table. Again meals are healthy, balanced, decent portions and delicious. They don't serve chocolate though so take your own. Or maybe e
ven try surviving without it for a few days. I did last time and came away from a two night three day stay feeling fabulous. So in conclusion? Stressed at work? Too many demanding children? Skin feeling icky? Lost interest in exercising? Never feel like you have time for yourself? GO TO HENLOW GRANGE!!! You?ll spend a few hundred pounds but come away feeling a million dollars (just stay away from those scary treatments?).
My kids are great; love them to bits, however taking care of them is can be bloody hard work. Which is why my wife decided we should go on a break, we packed the kids off to Grandmas and went to a health farm. Granted it wouldn’t have been my first choice and when I found out how much it cost I was all for packing the kids off and hiding in our house with the curtains drawn and a shopping trolley full of booze. I can’t remember how much it cost now, I know it doesn’t bode well for the op but the initial trauma must have blocked it from my mind. Needless to say it’s in the realms of “If you have to ask…..” Still my mind was settled a little by the fact we got a stay there for half price, a kind of buy one get one free offer. Of course I was the freeloader, not much different there then. The offer included a free massage for every night you stay there, for the person who pays non-transferable, this was of course the reason my wife went out of her way to book the stay herself…. So we packed up the car and drove for the first time in years without the children, the silence, the peace, the quiet. It was unnerving…. When we arrived the place looked lovely, a drive from the village of Henlow down a tree lined avenue, you know there’s going to be something special at the end of it. The building itself is very impressive Georgian Mansion set in over one hundred acres of Bedfordshire parkland by the River Hiz. There are two sections to the house, the old main house and a newer addition but the new section has been matched so sympathetically to the old building it’s very hard to tell. So we hopped out of the car and it suddenly dawned on us we were in jeans and t-shirts. We knew the place had a dress code for evening diners of smart casual so we weren’t sure if we’d be thrown out for being badly dressed paupers before we even set foot in the place. We needn’
;t have worried too much about that, as the dress code when we got inside was remarkably casual. Not being used to the concept of health farms I was completely unprepared for the site of women wandering around in dressing gowns, the culture shock made my brain temporarily fuse. Before anyone gets all excited at the thought of scantily clad women dressed in nothing but their frillies and a thick toweling gown I should remind you the reality of it all is far from the realms of fantasy. In exactly the way that you’d like to imagine all nudists are hard-bodied twenty-somethings but are more likely to be squidgy-bottomed middleagers with beer guts and cellulite, the people at Henlow Grange were real people. I’m not being uncharitable, frankly I’m no oil painting myself, but it was a shock to see middle aged women wandering around the reception in terry toweling. Still I got over that admirably and barely batted an eyelid when I walked past the salons seeing hordes of women have their nails buffed at both ends of their body. However it was when I passed the studio class and peered in at a gaggle of Lycra clad butts bouncing around on what appeared to be big red moon hoppers that I had to bite my lip and run for the room. I’m sure gym instructors are Sadists, not content with driving the poor chubbies through their paces with shouts of encouragement they make them bounce around on the most ludicrous objects, depending on what happens to be in vogue. Not so long ago is was slide backwards and forwards in velour socks, before that were steppers and now it’s moon hoppers. The strange thing is they have these little feet on them to keep them stable and you are meant to roll backwards and forwards on your belly on them. The overall result makes them look like over-inflated udders. So after running the gauntlet to the room we settled down and unpacked. The room was a large twin with plenty of space. It was equipp
ed with a power shower and bath, TV and tea making equipment. I did expect satellite on the TV but no such luck. It wasn’t overly luxuriant but as much as you’d expect from a standard hotel room. We went for a standard room; the superior rooms have balconies and other extras. The premier rooms are very flashy and all very individual. There were also a range of lotions and potions in the bathroom, all the La Zouche in house brand. These although expected in any hotel are actually pretty nice, since each of the mini bottles was going for something like £4.50 in the Spa shop. Needless to say they were bagged at the end of our stay. So settled in we prepared for our tour of the facilities, a lovely little old lady wandered round the site showing us what was on offer. In addition to the beauty salons and the fitness studio, which I’d already witnessed, there was a hair salon and some upright tanning booths (the sunbed equivalent of a microwave, very quick). On the fitness front there was a fully equipped gym and a 25m swimming pool with a Jacuzzi both the male and female changing rooms had saunas and steam rooms. Also throughout the complex there were various little galleries of celebrity photos and autographs. Pamela Anderson graced the walls with Chris Eubank, Westlife, Boyzone and Jamie Oliver, apparently Barbara Windsor had been in the week before (and she was “really down to earth”) There was also a gallery of golden oldies from the days when health farms looked more like Carry On movies, with all the women in black leotards and stockings. This gallery had Jimmy Saville and Bernie Winters pictured with a gaggle of appreciative girls, no idea why they were appreciative. There was also a series of Marty Feldman looning around in a fat suit; I’ve always had a soft spot for Marty Feldman. It was slowly beginning to occur to me that aside from the gym instructor I hadn’t seen any men at all.
I was a prisoner at camp oestrogen!! Not giving things much thought is a pastime of mine, I can go for days without a single thought in my head, aside from the usual primitive urges; must eat, must pee, that kind of thing. So I hadn’t given things much thought about this health farm, I’d pictured it more as a glorified gym rather than a glorified beauty salon. The few men I did see were all attached to various women and spent most of their days either in the gym or the pool. With the exception of one young man who was busy having highlights put in, in the hair salon. I’m sure he must have been in a boyband of some sort but not keeping up with boybands is also a hobby of mine, I can go for weeks on end not keeping up with A1 or Westlife if I have to. Now the most planning I’d managed to do leading up to this excursion was, I’ll go down the gym and swim a bit, to this end I’d booked in a sports massage. I figured if my wife got her free rub downs then I might as well have one, besides I’m so completely out of shape the chances are I’d need one just to put me back on my feet again after all my exertion. What I didn’t count on was getting a terrible case of sinusitis just before going so I was feeling pretty rough when I got there, no problem said my wife, you can have an aromatherapy massage to sort out your sinuses. So I booked in for a facial too. Now I figured the sports massage would be a pretty manly affair and to be honest it was, my masseuse had a grip of steel considering she was a relatively slight woman. Of course I hadn’t been doing too much exercise since I was ill so it was largely unnecessary but that is beside the point, there is nothing wrong with having your body rubbed down with oil once in a while. As for the facial I wasn’t so sure how manly that was. I felt even less manly lined up in the waiting room with around thirty women in their dressing g
owns, with me the only man there. The facial I had was by a company called Elemis, they specialize in aromatherapy and essential oils, which was the reason I’d asked for it in the first place. Still I was quite pleased when I saw the masseuse, a very attractive brunette. This wasn’t going to be that bad after all….. I probably should have figured that there would be more than a slight influence of the new age in a company that specializes in essential oil therapy and there was. I’m a scientist by trade and I tend to be very skeptical about new age things, I’ll concede that essential oils do have certain properties but being told all about the eastern mysticism roots of the massage did make me smirk a little, I think I’d have enjoyed the whole experience a lot more if I’d have checked my brain out at the door. So my facial began with…… a foot massage, of course. Still it was very nice and a bit difficult to not giggle as I was having my feet rubbed, of course I hadn’t counted on it and I’d turned up wearing well used gym socks so I did feel a little sorry for her. Next the facial started for real I’m not sure what went on my face, I think the first lot was probably oil, I know it felt very, very nice. Then I got exfoliated (I think!!) lots more nice rubbing around but this time whatever went on came off again. There is a distinct disadvantage in having any kind of facial hair when it comes to this facial lark, although I’d had a shave that morning there was still a little stubble around my chops and so whatever cloths or cotton wool she used got caught up in my stubble, so by the end of the massage I looked like Father Christmas….. maybe not. Then I had a couple of pads popped on my eyes and a cloth put over my head and I was left alone in the darkened room wondering weather or not the things on my eyes were tea bags and listening to some te
rrible ambient new age music being piped in. I’d much rather listen to some nice classical music than a Navaho whale playing panpipes in the jungle. After a while she came back in and wiped the gunk off my face again. Next it was time for my “sensory journey” this involved her placing her hands all around my body from the top of my head right down to my toes…. It was all very innocent (by this point I was rather hoping it wouldn’t be) and although it felt a bit silly it was actually quite relaxing. Then to signify the end of journey she rang a bell, the trouble was what with the whale and his panpipes in the background I wasn’t sure if it was part of the sound track. Now I might sound as if I’m being a bit cynical about this but I really enjoyed it. Though there is something to be said about having a beautiful woman rubbing oils into your face. I think I’d have been happy with just the oils and not the skin care though apparently my complexion looked very nice afterwards, I couldn’t see it myself….. After all this we had our evening meal at the restaurant, the food was very nice indeed, though a little too healthy for my liking. And every meal is calorie counted, for those on diets. The potions are not particularly large though, since I had been swimming and had done a little light exercise in the gym I let it ride. But the following evening I did ask for extra veggies…. The following day I went down the gym again, it was very well equipped with a good range of cardio machines and weight machines, all computer controlled, very nifty. Meanwhile my wife had various massages and other such girlie things done, the ranges they have a La Zouche, Clarins, Elemis and a whole bunch of other stuff, to be honest I won’t pretend to understand it but she seemed to enjoy herself even having a flotation mud wrap. Who on earth thinks these things up I’ll n
ever know, probably the same person who thought up the inflatable udder workout. The overall experience for me was very nice, even though I might sound a little cynical about it. The facilities are superb, though a little more geared to the female clients than the male. Which is hardly surprising really since I suspect most of its revenue comes from hen parties coming in for a days worth of pampering (there were plenty of them there). Still pampering is good and I’d recommend the experience to anyone, even if you are a bloke.
Another ageing op gets the *Renewal* treatment...perhaps I need to visit this place again just to update more fully.... I wish! The first visit was as the result of coming runner up in SHE magazine's "Juggler of the Year" competition. Believe it or not, I'm not part of a circus act, although it felt like it sometimes. This was the kind of competition which belongs firmly in the mid 90's where you were actually *rewarded* for juggling so many responsibilities that the winning health farm break was probably all that was keeping you (me, in fact!) from complete breakdown! The fact that the competition winner got a much longer health farm break as well as £1000 of clothes and a trip to the Caribbean is a source of no bitterness to me(!) I figure if she was doing more than I was at the time, she must have deserved it! The name Henlow Grange is a familiar one in Health Farm circles. I had already been to Springs Hydro when I visited Henlow Grange, and had high expectations. Henlow Grange is set in rolling Bedfordshire countryside. It is set within an old manor house (hence the name)and looks very impressive when your car rolls up the driveway to the front entrance with its Georgian pillars. Had I come to this place before Springs, it's possible that I would have been more impressed with the *inside* of the building than I was, although I heard recently that they were renovating it, so it may be that it is totally different again now. When we visited, however, Henlow Grange, being one of the more elderly health farms, was showing its age. The bedroom - we were in the old house, there is a newer part built on - was lovely. Furnished in a very traditional style in keeping with the building, it was comfortable if a little on the small side. Pretty much all the facilities however were ageing. Perhaps someone else can write an opinion as to whether they have improved much recently? If they are much
as they were, I'd definitely recommend going to a newer health farm elsewhere. There are a lot of signed photos around the walls depicting Henlow Grange's more famous showbiz visitors (wonder if mine will be up there after that appearance on "Playing for Time"!!) but I imagine that most of these came when the place was new and groundbreaking in what it was doing. The food also was disappointing after Springs. Everything looked and tasted as if it was low fat, and all alcohol and caffeine was banned. Again, things can change with a new chef, so this may have improved. The gardens are lovely to walk in, very relaxing, and you can borrow a boat to row down the river in the grounds for a little way, a pleasant way to spend the afternoon if the weather's nice. The treatments we had here were good, and there was a wide and varied choice. The beauty therapists were pleasant and seemed well-trained and efficient. It *was* a relaxing and pleasant way to spend a weekend, but all in all it felt much more like we were at a "health farm" with all the regime that that conjures up, than at a relaxing spa. If you are considering a visit here I wouldn't want to deter you, but if you are used to modern facilities and think this is an important part of the experience, then check out with someone who has been there recently, or with Henlow Grange themselves as to when and how the facilities have been upgraded. Better still, do what I did and *win* yourself a visit. Just be careful how you do it!
The impressive Georgian style mansion offers a complete range of services in health, beauty and fitness facilities, and is ideal for total relaxation and pampering.