The Champneys name used to be synonymous with luxury health farms. Now it is part of a group which comprises four health farms around the country. I visited their farm in Bedfordshire, previously known as Henlow Grange.
The main entrance, via a Georgian house, still houses a few bedrooms, but the majority of activities take place in the enormous, but well integrated extension. Following a major fire, this area has recently been totally refurbished.
A girlfriend and I were housed overlooking acres of land and the river Hiz. With ducks outside our French windows, and cows grazing across the river, it was easy to feel relaxed almost immediately.
The complex is quite big and it is easy to get disoriented. Various classes are held throughout the day. I enjoyed the Pilates, (a form of exercise) although I was expected to pay extra to join it.
Package determines treatments
There is also a large indoor swimming pool and gym with state-of-the art apparatus to while away the hours between appointments.
Your package will determine which treatments you have. Champneys have their own products which they use unless you choose otherwise. I personally found their own brand facial very drying, and was surprised that they did not use a product more suitable to my skin type.
Laurie decided to have some extra treatments, and was therefore able to choose. She was guided to one of Clarins new aromatherapy massage, with which she was extremely pleased.
I particularly enjoyed my relaxing bath, where warm paraffin wax is applied over the body and you are left to dream in a retained temperature. Not only did my stresses float away, but my skin felt wonderful afterwards.
Treatments get booked up very quickly, with manicures and pedicures extremely popular. You are advised to pick what you want when booking rather than waiting until you get there.
Various different beauty houses are represented with specific treatments unique to the place. Men have their own selection of treatments, and are looked after by male staff.
The grounds are particularly lovely, and there is a tennis court. You can go for a walk without encountering hardly a soul, except for perhaps one or two rabbits. Golf and horse riding can be arranged locally.
At one time, health spas were where you went to lose weight and your meal usually consisted of hot water with a slice of lemon. This appears to have changed. Diets are not discussed unless you ask. Looking at the people tucking into their food in the large airy dining room, even those who perhaps should have been there for that purpose didn't appear to be.
Huge self-service buffet
Eating too much - particularly at lunchtime - was our main problem, with a huge self-service buffet of salads and hot dishes. Dinner has waiter service, although still very informal, with wine available if you wanted it.
The whole atmosphere encourages early nights, and except for the odd lecture or watching television in your room, there is little to tempt you from an early night.
I noticed several people eating on their own, and the place doesn't appear to encourage interaction with the other guests. So, unless you don't mind, it is advisable to come with a friend or partner.
Web site created by Mark Griffin