Country house hotel Lucknam Park is one of only three spas in the UK featuring the ESPA brand and treatments. Georgette McCready met ESPA founder Susan Harmsworth
Lucknam Park’s setting is enough to start the de-stressing process, tucked away as it is in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, the old mellow stone house surrounded by traditional rose filled English gardens. Its spa facilities were updated just a few years ago and offer the chance for visitors to escape from the harsh reality of the world, even if it’s just for a few hours.
This summer the spa has been given extra kudos as doyenne of the global spa business, Susan Harmworth MBE, chose Lucknam as only the third UK site for her ESPA brand. Susan visited Lucknam for the launch to talk about her philosophy and what ESPA will bring hotel and day visitors to the spa. ESPA’s naturally based products are made in Frome and used in five star spas in more than 60 countries.
On meeting Susan the first thing that’s on everyone’s lips is, surely she can’t be 72? She has the complexion of a woman 20 years younger and the energy and zest of a woman 30 years younger. She is a living advertisement for her own products. I asked her about her own daily regime, which always begins with deep breathing exercises and stretches.
She says: “I travel a lot and never go anywhere without my little bottles of aromatherapy blend oils. I use oils and serums daily, much more than I use moisturiser. I have a personal trainer who makes me work out in the pool and I am a great believer in the power of a positive mental attitude.” She also gave up sugar a year ago, including wine, and says she feels more full of energy as a result.
ESPA’s philosophy is rooted in treating people’s bodies and their minds, in helping them find a little calm in an over stimulated world. As a result, in the new menu of treatments at Lucknam, there are three signature treatments which include attention to mindfulness. A group of journalists, who have notoriously over-active jangled minds were challenged to experience the mindful massage.
This is a 90 minute session and I am put in the reassuringly calm hands of Siobhan. All of Lucknam’s staff have been trained to ESPA’s own standards. We begin by breathing in the scents of a couple of different aromatherapy oil blends to help determine whether I need pepping up or quietly restoring. It turns out on this occasion it’s gentle restoration I’m in need of, so lying back I’m encouraged to relax both mind and body.
After a series of deep, calming breaths and some visualisation techniques, Siobhan sets about gently but very thoroughly massaging me from top to toe. Because this treatment is for 90 minutes it gives the body time to really unwind and as the effects of the massage begin to penetrate, so the mind is stilled, brought back into the moment. She finishes with some tough work on my office-bound knotty shoulders and then a head and forehead massage. I swear I am two inches taller when I finally serenely float from the treatment room . . .
The brasserie at Lucknam is a delightful spot to have a delicious, seasonal lunch with produce from the hotel vegetable garden. On a warm sunny day the doors are folded back to allow scent from the lavender to drift in. If you’re fortunate enough to have a day to spend at Lucknam, the unravelling process can continue in the extensive spa, which includes an indoor and outdoor pool, sun loungers on the garden terrace, as well as steam rooms and a tranquil relaxation lounge. For the 21st century screen addict this setting also provides the ideal place to go wi fi cold turkey and, you know, actually talk to your companion.
Lucknam Park in itself has the power to soothe the troubled mind, as you really do feel as if you’re getting away from it all. Add to that an ESPA treatment and you’ll emerge from the cocoon at least feeling, if not looking, like a beautiful butterfly.
Both spa day packages – see the website lucknampark.co.uk, for full details – include a two course lunch, an ESPA treatment, wellbeing experience and use of the facilities: Choose from a Secluded Escape: 60 minute ESPA treatment, lunch in the brasserie and a dry floatation costs £165, or Time for Tranquility, a 90 minute ESPA treatment and lunch, also £165. The spa day packages are available Monday to Fridays, not at weekends.