Busy schedules, unhealthy lifestyles, demanding jobs, and stressful environments – sometimes you just have to say “enough is enough”. And at moments like this there’s only one thing for it. A spell at Summer Lodge, and a few sessions in the spa.
Summer Lodge is that rare and precious thing – a luxurious and indulgent retreat which provides a delightful escape from the incessant pressures of twenty-first century living.
The setting, deep in the green and pleasant heart of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, is therapy itself. The rooms, with their fabric lined walls, gorgeous furnishings, sumptuous beds, fine linen and spectacular bathrooms, are cosy cocoons you never want to leave. There’s the intimate bar, with its inviting open fire, leather armchairs, wood panelled walls and the light and airy drawing room, designed by Thomas Hardy himself.
But what makes Summer Lodge truly remarkable, however, is the quality of the food and wine, and the sheer relaxation provided by the spa experience. These two elements really put the icing on the cake, creating a total feast for the senses – it’s no wonder guest leave feeling so deeply refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed.
Taking time out isn’t just pleasurable – it’s essential
Rosemary Sumner, Spa Director, comments that “Many of those who stay here have high powered jobs, so the stresses and strains on them, and their families can be enormous. Even if you are not in such a situation the pace and pressure of modern life incessantly wears you down. Summer Lodge enables you to completely remove yourself from that environment – it gives you the time and space to take a deep breath, relax, reconnect, and rediscover what really matters in life…your health, your wellbeing and the ones you love.”
A spa experience par excellence
Because of this the most popular treatments in the spa are relaxing facials and massages, rather than essential treatments like waxing. “This is not a big high tech spa” Rosemary continues, “we don’t have all the latest electronic gizmos. We’re a small and very personal spa that’s very high touch and hands on. We specialise in soothing treatments that refresh and rejuvenate body and mind – the emphasis here on purifying, detoxifying and rejuvenating.”
“There are spas with a higher profile than ours” she adds, “but they are crowded and busy…almost like a production line. We can give guests more time and personal attention. Some people, their backs are like wood, or concrete, they are so tightly wound up. It takes time to release all that tension, and sometimes this can be quite emotional – if they need the space to talk we don’t say ‘sorry, time’s up, I’ve got to see the next person’. We don’t offer every treatment under the sun – but we aim to give people the best they’ve ever had.”
The finest French formulations
The spa uses the Darphin range, probably the most highly regarded products and treatments amongst discerning French women. These high potency indulgent skin care formulations combine the best of nature and science to create uniquely luxurious plant based treatments.
Facials include the Ultimate Rejuvenating Facial, the Enviro-Recovery Vitamin Infusion and the Rose and Linen Age Reversal. There are five body treatments, from the Bergamot and lemon Grass Stress Relief to the Palmarosa and Jojoba Firming Lift. Body massages range from Swedish Massage and Deep Tissue Massage to Head Massage and Aromatherapy Massage, with Reiki, Reflexology, Stone Therapy massage and even Hopi Ear Candling Facial Draining massage.
Everything comes together to lift your spirits
“The difference between when guests arrive, and when they leave, is extraordinary” says Rosemary, “you wouldn’t recognise them. They come in so tight and tense, but over the course of a few treatments spread over the next two or three days the transformation is truly remarkable.”
“The spa team would like to take all the credit” she laughs, “but that’s not really fair. The setting here, with the gardens and the surrounding countryside, plays a huge part – the pace of life down in Dorset couldn’t be more different from that in a city. Also, the management team has been together here for about eight years, and we all get on so well, which creates a wonderfully warm environment. Then there’s the lovely food and wine, with menus that features the very best local produce from nearby farms – that also enhances your sense of wellbeing and reminds you why life is worth living.”
Listening to Rosemary, and having experienced the hospitality at Summer Lodge, I couldn’t agree more. I now realise that a break down here, whilst a luxury, is also a necessity – the demands on each of us these days are so great that it’s essential to take proper time out in which to relax, recover and refocus.
By Jim O’Connor