24 May 2024 World leisure: news, training & property
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Spa Business
2023 issue 4

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At your service

We reveal some of the latest, most thought-provoking spa and wellness treatments, programmes and experiences from around the world

Comic Ruby Wax is heading to a country mansion in northern England in March 2024 to lead a five-night programme for those suffering from long-term stress photo: broughton sanctuary

Medieval beer baths in Belgium

A new subterranean spa in Bruges, Belgium is tapping into a wellbeing tradition from the Middle Ages which is claimed to cleanse people’s skin and improve their mental health.

Bath & Barley’s signature package sees guests bathe in a mixture of warm beer, water, yeast and hops while enjoying a draught of the drink as they sit in their tub. Guests complete the experience by relaxing on a bed of straw – another age-old practice which is believed to relieve sore joints and muscle pain.

This is the second site operated by the Belgian beer day spa brand, which opened its flagship location in Brussels two years ago.

Location: Bath & Barley, Bruges, Belgium

Duration: 60 minutes

Cost: €99 (US$111, £85)

The baths are filled with beer, water, yeast and hops / photo: Bath & Barley
Sustainable bee therapy creates a buzz in Scotland

Apitherapy – AKA bee therapy – is taking flight in Scotland where the vibrations of 60,000 honey bees are being used to massage and calm guests.

Herb Majesty is the company behind the offering and owner Charlotte Blackler says the vibrations from the bees’ wings have a positive energising effect which calms and relaxes.

During the experience, guests lie in one of six wooden ‘apipod’ huts on a sheepskin-covered bed with a bee hive nestled underneath. The bees then come and go freely through a hive entrance and are separated from guests by a mesh screen meaning only sounds and smells pass through.

“You de-stress listening to the sounds of the bees going about their daily life, surrounded by the aromas of honey, propolis, nectar and pollen,” Blackler says.

Location: Monachyle Mhor Hotel, Perthshire, Scotland

Duration: 45 minutes

Cost: £80 (US$103, €92)

photo: shutterstock/Shaiith
Massaging vibrations come from bee hives under the beds / photo: Charlotte Blackler
Banyan Tree connects guests with communities

Banyan Tree Group has launched a Stay For Good programme, to offer travellers authentic experiences that not only deepen their connection with each destination but also make a positive impact on the local communities by respecting and preserving their heritage and traditions.

The initiative offers a wide range of experiences carefully curated by the team, including exploring the bamboo forests of Anji in China, crafting traditional thatched roofs in Kyoto, discovering the Nyonya heritage of Penang and learning about the minority Muslim community of Krabi in Thailand.

“Our approach is inspired by the concept of regenerative tourism,” said Adhiyanto Goen, head of communications for Banyan Tree Group.

Location: Banyan Tree locations in China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand

Curated experiences highlight local traditions and culture / photo: Banyan Tree Group
SHA spotlights importance of wellbeing in leadership

Spanish destination spa SHA Wellness has devised a Leader’s Performance Programme for executives facing high levels of activity, effort and stress on a daily basis.

Drawing on research and modalities from its Cognitive Development & Brain Stimulation Unit, the new medically-angled programme has been devised to assist leaders to help them achieve optimal performance and productivity while showing them how to react to stress in the best way.

Location: SHA Wellness, Alicante, Spain

Duration: Seven days

Cost: €9,600 (US$10,787, £8,238)

The programme draws on cognitive stimulation modalities / photo: sha wellness
Retreat targets teenagers

The Rewire Retreat has launched a programme to teach teenage girls how to regulate their emotions and develop a strong sense of self in today’s increasingly digital world.

Hosted by transformation specialist Natasha Richardson, the experience sees attendants arrive with chronic anxiety including physical symptoms and a deep fear of the unknown.

Body-, brain- and breath-based techniques are used to manage emotions, while decision-making tools are taught to help the young adults embrace the unknown and become clearer about what they want in life and why.

he schedule is complemented with sound baths, morning yoga, live music, play, camp-fires, foraging and wild walks.

Location: The Center, The Hermitage at 42 Acres, Somerset, England

Duration: Three days

Cost: £1,500 (US$1,964, €1,748)

Ruby Wax to host stress-busting retreat

British-American comic Ruby Wax is heading to a country mansion in northern England in March 2024 to lead a five-night programme for those suffering from long-term stress.

She’s teaming up with author Rahla Xenopoulos and Buddhist monk and meditation trainer Gelong Thubten to deliver the agenda.

“Five hundred years ago no one died of stress: we invented this concept and now we let it rule us,” says Wax.

“Thubten, Rahla and I are offering this retreat because we know that when we feel connected to our bodies and minds, it’s as if we’ve found home. And when we find home, things like uncertainty and loneliness don’t pack the same punch.”

Yorkshire bolthole

The upcoming programme will be hosted at Avalon Wellbeing, a retreat centre and spa which is part of Broughton Sanctuary – a 16th-century mansion in Yorkshire that’s situated within 3,000 sprawling acres.

The space offers an abundance of wellness features ranging from modern spa facilities, daily meditation sessions and workshops to wild swimming, forest bathing and moon baths.

“The aim of this retreat is to help guests find that refuge, or help them build one,” explains Wax, adding that the experience will feature yoga, guided walks, group mealtimes and time spent unwinding in the spa, including individual wellbeing treatments.

Therapies on offer range from acupuncture, shamanic healing and psychotherapy to herbal medicine, trauma release, varying forms of bodywork and sound baths.

The March event will be the second of its kind, following on from Wax’s debut retreat in late 2023.

Location: Broughton Hall Estate, Skipton, England

Duration: Five nights

Cost: £1,400 (€1,632, US$1,833)

This will be the second time Wax has led the wellness programme / photo: Broughton Sanctuary
Country mansion Broughton Sanctuary will host the retreat / photo: Broughton Sanctuary
Time will be spent unwinding in the onsite Avalon Wellbeing span / photo: Broughton Sanctuary
Jane Kitchen tries out new contrast bathing circuits in Switzerland
Jane Kitchen / photo: jack emmerson

On a recent visit to Bürgenstock’s Alpine Spa, one of four expansive hotel spas by the operator in Switzerland, I tried a new self-guided hydrotherapy programme that’s been created to maximise the benefits of contrast bathing.

The three Hydrotherapy Journeys – Relax, Regenerate and Activate – last between 40 and 120 minutes and instructions are printed on waterproof cards which fit into spa robe pockets.

Myself and three friends opted for the Regenerate pathway. The 90-minute circuit focuses on reducing inflammation, using heat to detoxify and cold to relieve muscle soreness and revitalise.

Maximising benefits

It began with light movement in an indoor pool for 10 minutes, followed by five minutes of Kneipp walking – something none of us had tried before. As a fan of Kneipp therapy, I was thrilled to see it highlighted and explained, especially as it’s not so well known.

Next, we spent 10 minutes in the dimly lit Saline Floating Bath – the circuit suggested this was the right duration to reap the most benefits.

Two five-minute trips to an ice room – between rest and relaxation breaks – left us feeling alert and energised before warming up for 10 minutes in the Aroma Sauna. A quick cold plunge got us out of our comfort zones followed by a visit to the striking Panorama Sauna.

The journey ended in an outdoor natural pool, which in October was a few degrees cooler than the cold plunge, but we all managed to brave the waters, egging each other on.

Attracting new markets

Maggie Derblay, Bürgenstock’s area director of spa, wellness and recreation, created the journeys with wellness specialist Paula Alons-Maside to attract new markets and drive repeat visits. She says: “We wanted to make sure that the journeys were accessible to all, including small groups or solo travellers, with different points of entry.”

Derblay says feedback has been positive, specifically regarding ease of use, flow, elements of surprise and discovery and the overall feeling achieved afterwards.

As a group activity, the journeys were a lot of fun, encouraging us on a pathway we probably wouldn’t have taken on our own. And the contrast bathing and social spa-ing elements are right on trend.

Location: The Bürgenstock Collection, Switzerland

Duration: 40-120 minutes

Cost: Free

Kitchen was thrilled to see a focus on Kneipp walking / photo: Burgenstock Resort
The self-guided circuits encourage people to use hydrothermal facilities in a new way / photo: Burgenstock Resort

Originally published in Spa Business 2023 issue 4

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