Treat­ments should feel nice, not like pun­ish­ment

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

As a child born to plac­ard-wav­ing Left-wing par­ents, work­ing in the beauty/fash­ion in­dus­try was al­ways a source of un­ease. I once ex­pe­ri­enced the warm glow of re­spect from my fa­ther when I told him I was writ­ing about cash­mere, only to see it fade when he re­alised I meant the goat by-prod­uct, not the war-torn re­gion.

In some quar­ters, the beauty in­dus­try gets a bad rap. Does it play on women’s in­se­cu­ri­ties? Will it make us feel like we are never quite good enough? Maybe, but it can also make us feel great.

A new study by Min­tel re­veals that 59 per cent of women say their beauty rou­tine helps them re­lax. The sooth­ing tex­tures, pleas­ant smells and five min­utes of self-fo­cus pro­vide a pos­i­tive men­tal boost. Aro­mather­apy oils, as the name sug­gests, are prop­erly ther­a­peu­tic. They can al­ter brain chem­istry, boost one’s mood and com­bat stress – and they also have an­tivi­ral and an­ti­sep­tic prop­er­ties. If a friend is go­ing through a tough time, I give them Aro­mather­apy As­so­ci­ates’ In­ner Strength Roller Ball, which costs £18. It’s like por­ta­ble ther­apy. Hon­estly.

And then there is the power of touch. As hu­mans, we need it – but as more and more of us live on our own, tac­tile plea­sure is miss­ing from many lives. Beauty and spa treat­ments are ar­guably the only way we can com­fort­ably pay for touch pro­vided by an­other hu­man be­ing.

The ben­e­fits are mul­ti­ple, but it has to be the right kind of treat­ment. Choose the wrong one and you may feel peeved, not pam­pered. Dur­ing a ca­reer of test­ing spa treat­ments, I think I have sussed how to choose.

I avoid any treat­ments that try to solve prob­lems (eg, make you thin­ner, younger or more toned). This is es­pe­cially true of cel­lulite treat­ments. They don’t work, and they can hurt – I’ve had pres­surised wa­ter fired at my bot­tom more times than I care to re­mem­ber – and it re­mains dim­pled. Any fa­cials that in­volve more than two masks (your skin can only take so much) are best avoided. Wraps in gen­eral are tor­tur­ous; cling film should stay in the kitchen.

So what would I choose? Head mas­sages, hot stone mas­sages and fa­cials that in­volve lots of lymph drainage, min­i­mal ma­chin­ery and de­li­cious smelling oils. Oh, and scrubs – the grand­daddy of feel-good treat­ments. I am a firm be­liever in spa treat­ments that ac­tu­ally feel nice.

Which brings us neatly to Chew­ton Glen (chew­ton­glen.com). It’s clear why it’s be­come so renowned as a ho­tel - and the spa doesn’t dis­ap­point, either. You’d be hard-pushed to emerge from its spa and not feel fan­tas­tic. Its in­door pool is per­fect for loung­ing around, mak­ing it per­fect for groups of friends on a day visit.

Work­ing your way round the hy­drother­apy spa pool (the largest of its kind in the UK) is a great way to pass a cou­ple of hours. Above the pool there’s a café sell­ing healthy food with a daily al­ka­line buf­fet. Any buf­fet feels a bit fat-farm-ish, but here the food looks and tastes good – and there’s an à la carte menu, too.

The spa lay­out is slightly hig­gledyp­ig­gledy and so lacks the serene grandeur of Clive­den, say. And the

The in­door pool at Chew­ton Glen spa

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