I’m often asked how I can physically sustain my busy lifestyle with parties every night and little or no time from holidays. My answer is mini breaks. I’m on a quest to find places where I can truly relax and switch off, even if its just for a day, and it was for that reason I visited Hanbury Manor, a Marriott Hotel and Country Club.
If I get down-time then I make the most of every moment and I know a lot of celebrities are the same. Actors on film sets can work from 6am to 10pm six days a week, the recording studio never starts until gone midnight and fashion weeks are show after show after show before moving on to a different city. Get out of the game for a week and you become behind on everything. But can you ever switch off from the rat race in just a day? Well, it certainly helps if you have a pool and jacuzzi like this…
The hotel and country club is located in Ware, Hertfordshire where numerous celebrities have roots. Most notably, Mrs Victoria Beckham herself is from Goffs Oak – just 7 miles away. Alesha Dixon has a mansion in the area and F1 driver Lewis Hamilton is from Tewin Wood. The celebrities pick Hertfordshire because its close to London (you can drive there in around an hour) but it feels like you’re in another, more peaceful world because of the sweeping country views. It’s so beautiful that even Victoria Beckham might almost smile…
Leave your house at 9am and you can be in a soft white robe by 10am but If you’ve got a jam packed work diary like me then you need a lot to get you feeling relaxed. Sitting by a pool is nice but if I do this on holiday it takes me three days to switch off and I want to do it in a day. So what then?
What about a massage? As part of the package I had at Hanbury Manor (more of that package detail later) I tried out a full body 60 minute massage and I went for deep pressure. Massages can be very personal because although I like to feel a therapist getting into every knot and crevice, I know that some people like more of a wholesome all encompassing, rhythmical touch so they can relax and drift off during the treatment. I had a really thorough consultation with my therapist before the massage started and it felt like she really understood my request. Us busy people need this because its really embarrassing if you want to stop your therapist mid massage and ask her to change the pressure but I didn’t need to do this as mine got it straight away. A lot of celebs are like me in asking for deep tissue massages (most of us put our bodies through hell by working 24/7 and actors and musicians are constantly on their feet with physically demanding jobs). If, like us, you like deep tissue then you will be happy to hear the Hanbury Manor health club therapists really apply the pressure so I felt my stress had been eased during my time on the massage table.
I booked a 30 minute mini facial straight after the massage because I find that if you truly want to relax then you need to bombard the body at once. Rather than calm the body down with the massage and having it rise back up slightly when you get up and move around and then having a facial later on to bring it down again, I went from relaxed to soooo relaxed by having the facial straight after the massage. If its possible for you to get them back to back then I highly recommend this as it puts you in an even more relaxed state then you get on holiday. Imagine, you’re taking 90 minutes out of your life to think about nothing else than your face and your body and it’s not often you get the chance to do that! I found the therapist was able to diagnose my skin issues by feeling my skin and she clearly got it right as the luxurious Decleor products she used left me feeling more hydrated than I had done in months.
Now my body was taken care of from the outside, it was time to check out the lunch options. The Oakes Grill lunch menu (which was included in my day package) has something to suit all appetites with light bites and salads as well as larger sandwiches or healthy fish dishes. I took my sister along for the spa day and by lunchtime we were quite peckish after all that relaxation so we shared a plate of antipasti – deliciously cured Italian meats like salami and prosciutto with juicy olives and warm bread rolls, washed down with a crisp glass of chilled Champagne. Bliss! This tasted of a summer day in the med and would have been nice to eat inside or outside but it did taste especially good outside, as we were able to enjoy it from a table on the restaurant terrace because of the weather. Cheers!
For mains, we both went for a carb-free sea bass dish served with roasted vegetables. If you’re watching your weight this would be a substantial dish in its own right – filling you up and satisfying your tastebuds while being low in calories. And honestly it tastes good, as normally I don’t like the low calorie options in restaurants.
The day package my sister and I had also included use of the gym and fitness classes and there is a packed timetable to choose from. We did pack our trainers and gym kit but because it was such a warm day we decided to switch between the sun loungers and the pool to really get that holiday feeling.
We were free to determine our own schedule and it’s little things like that which end up making you feel really relaxed. Other little touches included a constant supply of water and orange and lime squash outside (or herbal tea inside) so you stay hydrated and healthy the whole day, decent sized lockers in the changing rooms and good and powerful hair dryers.
Overall, I think I may have even come away feeling more relaxed than if I’d had a week’s holiday because there was no long-haul flight home. By 7pm I was in my pyjamas in London feeling blissfully relaxed and by 9pm I was in bed. That night, I slept for a full 8 hours. I need to plan another trip! I think it would be so romantic to go there on a mini-break (it is a hotel after all) but I can see my mum loving it and most of my girlfriends too. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy feeling completely relaxed, looked after and pampered?
HOW TO BOOK:
Details of several packages are available on the Hanbury Manor website like a day with afternoon tea, a 25 minute treatment and full use of leisure facilities, which is just £60 per person!
Or use the old-fashioned method, pick up the phone and call 01920 885010