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Planning Retirement Online


Six of the Best                   Archive

Helen Franks rounds up a one-woman view of six major health farms:

 

Ragdale Hall 

Champneys

Grayshott Hall 

Cedar Falls

Shrubland Hall

Stobo Castle

 

Since this article first appeared early in 2001 Ragdale Hall have offered laterlife visitors a special discount which due to its success has  been regularly extended. Click here for details.

 

Note prices below are 2001 prices.

 

Ragdale Hall

WHAT DO YOU WEAR?

Towelling robes or track suits, even at dinner. The maxim is: be comfortable

 

WHO’S THERE?

Any and everybody. Celebrities are said to love the place but  when they are there they quietly merge with everyone and no one takes any notice. Mostly middle-aged women with a few couples but the place also attracts city slickers desperate for rest and relaxation

 

 

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WHAT’S THE PLACE LIKE?

Elegant country mansion meets fantasy health club

 

WHAT’S THE REALLY FUN BIT?

The ‘unique water complex’ includes a cascade and massage jets to tone up various body parts, after which you chill out in a steamer chair with cushions and duvets. Enormous fun. Cycling, stretching, rowing and stepping underwater provide really good exercise – or you  try some gentle yoga by candlelight.

 

WHAT’S HORRIBLE?

Going home to reality

 

WHAT’S THE FOOD LIKE?

Well presented, healthy and nice with lots of choices all clearly marked with their calorie values. Refurbished country house dining room.  Some people go to put on weight

 

weightLOSS?

Only if you are really disciplined and limit your enthusiasm for the above

 

FEELGOOD FACTOR (marks out of 10)

10. It’s genuinely relaxing and comfortable

 

COST FOR TWO-NIGHT WEEKEND

From 240 to 295 twin room. Price  includes a facial and massage.

Ragdale Hall, Ragdale Village, nr Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire LE 14 3PB.

 Website: www.ragdalehall.co.uk. email: enquries@ragdalehall.co.uk

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Champneys

WHAT DO YOU WEAR?

Designer tracksuits, bold lycra and a smile (some of the older ladies have very tight smiles)

 

WHO’S THERE?   

It’s still the Mecca for the rich and famous from footballers to film stars plus lots of genteel couples, some of whom have been regulars since it opened. Probably more single (and successful and rich) men than most fat farms.

 

WHAT’S THE PLACE LIKE?

We are talking overt luxury, lots of cosseting and a peaceful atmosphere despite the glamour. Soft, robes and towels, complementary toiletries. The ultimate spa facilities and grounds like the guests, beautifully tended

 

WHAT’S THE REALLY FUN BIT?

Rubber necking to see who is really who and preening that one has finally joined the healthy elite

 

WHAT’S HORRIBLE?

Being checked out by a somewhat severe nurse who tests your body mass index. Oh, and the bill

 

WHAT’S THE FOOD LIKE?

We are talking Gargantuan temptation, we’re talking uncontrolled gluttony, we’re talking prize-winning chef meets and masters superb ingredients. There is a light diet room for wimps 

 

weightLOSS?

Only in the light diet room

 

FEELGOOD FACTOR (marks out of 10)

Couldn’t give it less than 12.5

 

COST FOR TWO-NIGHT WEEKEND

From 400 per person. Price  includes massage, health consultation and choice of 20 daily  activities. Treatments available at extra cost include allergy, cholesterol and blood tests, nutritional analysis, etc. 

Champneys, Wigginton, Tring, Hertfordshire  HP23 6HY

Website: www.champneys.com    email: reservations@champneys.co.uk

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Grayshott Hall

WHAT DO YOU WEAR?

Towelling robes, some snazzy workout gear plus an endearing old couple in what looked like pre-war shorts, shirt and blouse plus socks and sandals. (They dressed for dinner as one knew they would)

 

WHO’S THERE?

Awfully Surrey, really. It’s obviously a middle-class enclave far from the cruel and exacting world. Quite a few cosy mother and daughter combos plus couples.

 

WHAT’S THE PLACE LIKE?

Unabashed stately home amidst glorious acres of rolling greenery. Large enough to get lost in, comfortable and friendly enough to feel at home.  They’ve even got a 9 hole golf course

 

WHAT’S THE REALLY FUN BIT?

There are some off the wall treatments as well as all the usual therapeutic and beauty stuff. Fancy getting your body Feng Shuied?

 

WHAT’S HORRIBLE?

The overwhelming temptation to give up noble intentions to get fit and to swiftly sink into sybaritic lethargy

 

WHAT’S THE FOOD LIKE?

Wide variety of healthy options attractively presented but not so yummy one’s resolve goes absent without leave

 

weightLOSS?

The light diet room has a sensible low fat selection

 

FEELGOOD FACTOR (marks out of 10)

8

 

COST FOR TWO-NIGHT WEEKEND

From around 300 double per person in double room. Price  includes daily massage, heat treatment, many indoor and outdoor facilities.

Grayshott Hall, Headley Road, Grayshott, Nr Hindhead, Surrey GYU26 6JJ

Email: reservations@grayshott-hall.co.uk

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Cedar Falls

WHAT DO YOU WEAR?

Track suits and towelling robes. Designer relaxing clobber and just relaxing clobber

 

WHO’S THERE?

Everyone from the west country who wants to relax plus a regular posse of people who have a glamorous air, even sans makeup and suits.

 

WHAT’S THE PLACE LIKE?

Large tranquil old country house in spacious grounds with beautiful en-suite rooms overlooking a 44-hole golf course.  Plus a newly restored lodge which houses up to 4 people.

 

WHAT’S THE REALLY FUN BIT?

The flotation tank. This is the way to float so that one can be gently poured to bed in surreal bliss afterwards. There are loads of interesting alternative therapies and a  new  ‘rainforest’ steam room for blissful relaxation. A perfect and gentle introduction to determining to finally get one’s life in order

 

WHAT’S HORRIBLE?

You have to pre-book the more exclusive therapies, and you only discover that when you’ve arrived. Still it’s an excuse to extend your stay and maybe by now they’re better organised

 

WHAT’S THE FOOD LIKE?

Colour coded, good, nutritious fare with a distinctly small portion at dinner. (you know - breakfast like a king, lunch like a lord and dine like a pauper –  it’s all terribly healthy).

 

weightLOSS?

Surprisingly easy once one’s got over sulking about dinner. There are all sorts of special diets including detox

 

FEELGOOD FACTOR (marks out of 10)

9

 

COST FOR TWO-NIGHT WEEKEND

From 278 per person including facial, manicure, pedicure and scalp massage. Fishing and archery are just  two of the many activities included.

Cedar Falls Health farm, Bishops Lydeard, Nr Taunton, Somerset TA4 3HR.

E-mail: cedarf@globalnet.co.uk

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Shrubland Hall

WHAT DO YOU WEAR?

The ubiquitous towelling robes, track suits, floral dressing gowns, anything goes but guests do make a teeny effort to smarten up for dinner.

 

WHO’S THERE?   

A surprisingly eclectic mix of professionals, singles and couples, bent on unwinding and detoxing, and the kind of gentry who are so laid back that if they unwound any more they’d unravel. Everyone comes regularly to lose weight and detox

 

WHAT’S THE PLACE LIKE?

An elaborate Georgian folly with lots of Italianate touches set in stunning Italian gardens and orangeries overlooking the River Gipping valley. The therapies include colonic irrigation and are administered to do one good rather than indulge one

 

WHAT’S THE REALLY FUN BIT?

The underwater jet massages. One can actually see one’s pummelled flesh rippling and fantasise that somehow, in a week, one will be fitter and thinner

 

WHAT’S HORRIBLE?

No one can rave about the food. It is Spartan and sparse. Mind you, who would want to be greedy on oatcakes, soup and lemon and water?

 

WHAT’S THE FOOD LIKE?

See above: frightfully virtuous and the regulars clearly thrive on it.

 

weightLOSS?

One can’t help it

 

FEELGOOD FACTOR (marks out of 10)

8        Going home, one feels cleansed and refreshed and invigorated and rather tempted to dive into the nearest restaurant

 

COST FOR WED-SUN

From 476 per person including two main treatments daily plus choice of exercise classes. Price includes consultation with physician and dietician.

Shrubland Hall Health Clinic, Coddenham, Suffolk IP6 9QH.

No website.  Fax:01473 832641

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Stobo Castle

WHAT DO YOU WEAR?

Smart towelling robes (no sad, frayed jobs),  designer track suits or those given to one on first class flights. Everyone titillates for dinner. Diamonds are displayed. No paste

 

WHO’S THERE?

Scotland’s aristocracy who want to be primped, pummelled sympathetically and generally pampered, plus a few non-Scottish plebs who’ve somehow been allowed  in

 

WHAT’S THE PLACE LIKE?

Isolated Scottish baronial, local 19th century laird’s castle with a token exercise room (if one really must) and a weeny pool. Exercise is walking, riding, cycling and striding in the great outdoors. And oh yes, line dancing.  But who cares? You’re here to be nurtured and properly nourished. The place is full of chintzy, deep buttoned squishy sofas, and that’s just the bedroom.

 

WHAT’S THE REALLY FUN BIT?

Avoiding borrowing those earnest looking walking boots, anoraks and mountain bikes. Somehow missing the tennis courts and exercise room, and developing a limp if anyone threatens to look sportingly enthusiastic.  Only joking.

 

WHAT’S HORRIBLE?

Scottish mist

 

WHAT’S THE FOOD LIKE?

Elegant cold collations of fish and meat with exquisite salads and fresh fruit to follow. The crafty chef clearly knows how to make food look and taste delicious and yet slide in on a low calorie count

 

weightLOSS?

Who cares? No, despite the soporific atmosphere and a zero inclination to do anything more strenuous than walk along for the next massage, those extra pounds go

 

FEELGOOD FACTOR (marks out of 10)

9

 

COST FOR TWO NIGHT WEEKEND

Take advantage of special summer offer 250 per person  in twin room which includes back massage and unlimited use of all facilities.

Sobo Castle, Peebleshire, Scotland EH45 8NY

Website: www.stobocastle.co.uk

 

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All of the above health farms will send comprehensive brochures on request which should include a price list of special services and treatments including beauty salon, fitness assessment, medical screenings depending on what is offered.   Prices average 40.

All reputable health farms  provide an initial medical consultation before advising on suitable treatments.

 

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PLEASE NOTE THAT THE HEALTH FARM PRICES QUOTED ABOVE WERE CURRENT AT THE TIME OF PUBLICATION BUT SHOULD BE CHECKED WITH EACH HEALTH FARM.

To view previous articles in this series - see the laterlife healthwiseindex page

 


 

laterlife interest

The above article is part of the features section of laterlife.com called laterlife interest. laterlife interest contains a variety of articles of interest for visitors to laterlife.com written by a number of experienced and new journalists.

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