Q. My 16-year-old daughter has just completed her GCSEs, and as a treat we wanted to go away for a relaxing weekend together.
Q. My 16-year-old daughter has just completed her GCSEs, and as a treat we wanted to go away for a relaxing weekend together. We'd like to go somewhere quiet where we can unwind and maybe have a few "treatments", but we'd like to try something a bit different and possibly a bit cheaper than a Champneys-style spa. Can you suggest any alternatives?
Anna McBride, Stratford
A. There are plenty of relaxing alternatives to a weekend at an all-in residential spa. Some are considerably less expensive too, bearing in mind that an average spa weekend would likely cost the two of you around £600 - and that's before you have any treatments.
Take the Orange Tree Relaxation Centre (01751 417219; www.theorangetree.com) in Rosedale Abbey, a tiny Dales village almost exactly in the middle of the North York Moors. It used to be the local village store and post office, but in 2001 this 19th-century whitewashed building was refurbished by its new owners and is now a comfortable eight-bedroom guesthouse with a difference. The difference being that it has a sauna, treatment rooms, two in-house therapists and a large relaxation studio in the converted roof space.
A typical relaxation therapy weekend at the Orange Tree includes two morning sessions in the studio learning stress-busting techniques such as breathing meditation and reiki, an afternoon sauna, and one half-hour massage or reflexology session. The price of £159 per person is based on two sharing; treatments cost an extra £19.50. The price also includes six huge home-cooked meals made with fresh local produce.
The atmosphere is comfortable and low-key enough to accommodate a teenager, and if either of you fancies getting out for some fresh air, there are guided walks through some of England's loveliest landscape.
A weekend yoga retreat may also be worth considering, as a more active way to release the stress of weeks spent hunched over revision. Several companies and individuals offer these, typically involving two daily yoga sessions, plus the opportunity to try various other therapies of the holistic variety. Most reputable schools and teachers should happily provide details for their training. The British Wheel of Yoga (01529 306 851; www.bwy.org.uk) is also a good place for information and offers details of reputable yoga practitioners.
The Devon School of Yoga (01392 444727; www.devonyoga.com), the Yoga Project (07950 203664; www.yogaproject.co.uk) and Keythorpe Yoga Retreat (0116 259 3748; www.keythorpeyoga.co.uk) are all possibilities, but book well in advance. However, in Penzance, Tregoddick Farm (01736 361301; www.yogafarm.co.uk) has availability on some of its yoga weekends in August, costing £125 each, based on two sharing a room and doing your own catering in the farmhouse kitchen. Elizabeth Connolly leads the daily classes, teaching Ashtanga yoga at a level to suit you. In addition, for an extra £40, you can also be on the receiving end of an hour and a half of Thai massage or sharuti thirumal (a type of deep, flowing massage performed with the feet).
If all this is too healthy and not hedonistic enough for your teenager, a final alternative could be Bodi-Essentials (01202 587887; www.bodi-essentials.com). It's a less expensive version of Champneys: a three-star hotel on a cliff above Bournemouth beach, with a swimming pool, sauna, steam room plus therapists offering various massages and beauty treatments using Dermalogica products. Two nights half board in a standard twin bedroom, plus your choice of two treatments such as a full body massage and a facial costs £225 each.
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