Take care of yourself first!

You can’t pour from an empty cup

Did you know that in today’s modern world which is forever ‘on’, people spend more time on their digital devices (eight hours and 41 minutes a day) than we do asleep (eight hours and 21 minutes)? The relentless pace and pressure of day to day life certainly shows no sign of letting up and what’s worse, as a grown up, I can’t channel my inner child and simply run away to join the circus!  However, at a really tough time, I didn’t abandon all hope – I just took a deep breath and the advice of a very good friend and handed myself over into the capable hands of the Ayush Wellness Spa expert therapists at the Hotel de France for a two night rejuvenating retreat.

I was onto a promise with this one as their website said that it was a ‘place where time stops and mind and body restoration begins in a haven of peace and tranquillity’ and they weren’t wrong.  It would be no exaggeration to say that whilst I barely crawled through reception, I left with a huge spring in my step really ready to put one foot in front of the other and take on the world. 

So how exactly did this miraculous turnabout take place?  Firstly, there was an in-depth and detailed personal consultation with Doctor Prasanna (affectionately known as Dr P) a specialist consultant with over 20 years’ experience in healthy living, mind body balance, weight management issues and treating chronic ailments through Ayurveda – a natural holistic form of healing that focusses on the rhythm of life being at one with the rhythm of nature. Dr P works with a team of both Indian and western therapists to customise herbal medicated treatment oils and therapies. 

And here, within the first hour of being cocooned away in such a caring and calming environment, was my first lightbulb moment. By talking through what I thought was wrong with me and my life (first world problems of course but enough to keep me awake in the small hours of the morning), I realised that it was actually the underlying issue of not giving myself permission to take breath – I’m always moving, always doing, always on the go – that was really bringing me down. Such a simple epiphany meant that I didn’t spend the following 48 hours thinking about the blackberry full of work emails or the plans for Christmas or the fact that I still hadn’t posted my best friends’ engagement card two months down the line.  I quietened down those thoughts because I recognised and accepted that I truly needed some ‘me time’.

Now this is the important bit because, with Dr P’s help, such an acknowledgment ensured I was then able to really enjoy and appreciate the incredible healing treatments that followed over the course of the two days. 

But first – food! I enjoyed a beautifully presented and satisfying lunch (prepared on the specific eating recommendations that came out of my consultation) out in the warmth of the sunshine flooding the peaceful terrace of the Garden View restaurant and then I stepped into sheer heaven.

Every detail of these facilities has been created with nature in mind; beautiful stone and wood combine with open glass walkways to maintain the vast spacious air element and wherever you are, there is always the tranquil sound of gentle running water somewhere in the background. Although open and spacious, there are only six private treatment suites in the wellness centre ensuring you have undivided attention and the most luxurious of relaxation lounges means, tucked under a cashmere blanket, your eyes can remain closed as the rejuvenation process fully envelops you.

Additionally, the spa offers a 15m infinity pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms (with the obligatory cold plunge pool to reawaken the senses!) as well separate water areas for a massage and warm baths experience.

Promoting a balance of exercise, mindfulness and relaxation, Ayush is also complemented by Healthhaus at the Hotel – a premium members-only gym (open to residents) which offers state of the art facilities, complete with climbing ropes, gymnastic rings, weight machines, a Pilates studio and dedicated spin room as well as an extensive free weights room, stretch area and Powerplate Zone.

However, as I run regularly, I was determined my weekend of me-time wasn’t going to involve anything too exerting and, wrapped up in my Egyptian dressing down, I headed off for a treatment.

First up was a hot stone massage which, combined with specially blended oils, melted away the tensions which had built up in my shoulders and neck. Drifting in and out of sheer bliss in the soft glow of sandalwood candles, the one question that drifted fleetingly across my mind was: ‘Why on earth haven’t I done this sooner?!’ 

Day two saw a follow up full body massage which really concentrated on working through the newly released pressure points and I finished up with a prescriptive refreshing facial that left me radiant – inside and out.

An added bonus to the peace of mind I was thoroughly enjoying is that I have never slept so well – everyone booked into a retreat weekend is automatically offered a contemporary spa room which are all located within easy access of the wellness centre – making floating on cloud nine a little less conspicuous!

The weekend retreat finished with a final 15 minutes with Dr P who had prepared some lifestyle recommendations to help me build some wellness practices into the everyday life I was heading back to.  The importance of breathing properly. Staying in the moment. Nourishing my body.  Feeding my soul.  A week before, I would have laughed and said: ‘Who on earth really has time for all of that?!’  But now – restored, rejuvenated, re-charged and rebalanced – I categorically know who does. Me!

Ms. R – Mystery Shopper


The Rejuvenating Wellness Retreat offers a unique wellness experience that will leave you feeling refreshed from head to toe, bringing back your glow to leave you looking and feeling Revitalised.. Relaxed and Reconnected.

– 2 Nights stay in a double room with breakfast
– Full use of our award winning spa facilities
– 2 x Ayurvedic lunches in the Garden View Restaurant

Ayurvedic Consultation
Ayush Hot Stone Massage or
Ayush Body Envelopment

Ayush Full Body Massage
Ayush Refreshing Facial

£370.00 per person (price at October 2017)

Based on shared accommodation (2 people sharing a double room).

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