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Review: The Granary Spa at Godinton House

PUBLISHED: 11:27 22 January 2019

Owner Clare Singleton and some of her team outside the new Shepherd's Hut (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Owner Clare Singleton and some of her team outside the new Shepherd's Hut (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

This rural retreat in a converted Victorian granary provides an organic and holistic spa service that's all about ageing well

Clare Singleton’s complexion is glowing, and it’s no surprise. The owner of The Granary Spa, a converted Victorian granary within the beautiful Godinton Estate, has not only found a new peace and contentment with her business but has also been experiencing the benefits of a new treatment the spa has just introduced.

Launched six years ago, The Granary Spa realised Clare’s dream of creating a holistic retreat, surrounded by countryside, where you can escape the stresses of day to day life and stop to recharge.

'Upstairs at the Granary' gives you some “you time” either before or after a treatment (photo: Manu Palomeque)'Upstairs at the Granary' gives you some “you time” either before or after a treatment (photo: Manu Palomeque)

For this is not your typical spa at all; Clare is passionate about her treatments being available to everyone, especially those suffering life’s difficulties. Her therapists are trained in specialist treatments including cancer and bereavement, and number among their clients the blind, the bereaved, those with learning disabilities and the plain stressed.

“A lot of our clients are on that fast train to London from Ashford at 6am so they’re on the go all the time and never otherwise switch off.”

Clare practises what she preaches; her staff of 15 have access to two wellbeing stations at The Granary and the centre is shut twice a year so that the team can enjoy wellbeing activities together.

Senior therapist Sharlee Lind demonstrates a Hot Lava Shell Massage (photo: Manu Palomeque)Senior therapist Sharlee Lind demonstrates a Hot Lava Shell Massage (photo: Manu Palomeque)

With a warm and welcoming atmosphere from the moment you walk through the door, there are treatment rooms downstairs and a relaxation area upstairs. Here you can sip herbal Pukka teas, read books, chat quietly or enjoy a mindfulness colouring-in session.

New to the offer is a delightful Shepherd’s Hut in the grounds, which was initially going to be a temporary ‘fix’ while the business underwent expansion.

Then Clare went to Cornwall for a wellbeing conference, and everything fell into place. “I spent three days with lots of different spa owners and realised I have my dream and my happiness already, right here, and what else was I searching for? If we become bigger and more commercial, we lose the spirit of this wonderful place.”

A teabag-like sachet is placed inside each lava shell. This is the ‘lava gel’ (a mix including algae and sea kelp) which, when combined with salt water, generates enough heat for an hour-long massage (photo: Manu Palomeque)A teabag-like sachet is placed inside each lava shell. This is the ‘lava gel’ (a mix including algae and sea kelp) which, when combined with salt water, generates enough heat for an hour-long massage (photo: Manu Palomeque)

So the Shepherd’s Hut – made to order by neighbour Symonds Salvage Ltd to be tall enough to accommodate lofty sports therapist Scott – is here to stay.

“Saying ‘no’ to the new build was the biggest relief for me – happiness is more important than constantly expanding and risking losing the heart of the Granary.

“What we want to do is grow in knowledge and in the different treatments we can offer clients, and to grow our reputation for care. It’s our help and kindness that makes us different and attracts the sort of clients who perhaps don’t feel well enough to go to a conventional spa.”

It was definitely time for this often-stressed editor to put some relaxation and rejuvenation to the test, so I toddled off to the Shepherd’s Hut to meet up with my therapist, Sharleen Lind.

She has worked with Clare since the business started and was previously a personal trainer, working on cruise ships for four years and before that running a sports club in her native South Africa. As she tells me: “This is not a job for me; it’s a passion.”

My first treat is a Hot Lava Shell Massage, for which Sharleen uses naturally self-warming tiger-clam shells. The warm, smooth shells glide over my body under varying pressures to reach the deepest aches and pains, and I can feel stress and tension melting.

Hydrating oils moisturise my skin as the warming energy of the shells helps to revitalise and rebalance my body and mind.

The remarkable non-surgical, non-invasive face lift called Zone Face Lift is next. Turning people away who were requesting Botox, which The Granary doesn’t offer, was Clare’s motivation for introducing this new treatment.

A blend of facial reflexology using traditional Japanese facial techniques and ancient Native American healing practices, it naturally stimulates the collagen and elastin from the inside and tightens, plumps and sculpts the neck line by smoothing and uplifting the face.

Not only are there visible differences after one treatment (although a course of 12 close together will achieve a much better result), the programme is designed to help release emotions held in the face, leaving you looking softer, happier, calmer.

As Clare says: “This is an amazing alternative for those of us in the 40+ age group who do not wish to go down a Botox route.”

And while this is not an instant fix, I’m startled by how soft and glowing my complexion looks and my chin and neckline are distinctly firmer. Made even more impressive given the very late, celebratory awards night I’d enjoyed the night before …

There’s a final extra; sensing I’m not as relaxed as she’d like, Sharleen offers me a foot reflexology session. I’m out like a light.

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