When you have a mountain of work on your desk, creeping deadlines and a constant stream of incoming emails, how on earth do you justify escaping to a spa day? Despite the necessity and wonderful nature of our jobs at Votel Venues to find amazing venues for our clients, and to of course trial this new £15m spa at South Lodge on behalf of Exclusive Hotels; I also felt a warm surge of excitement that I would get to do something enjoyable just for me. But what was in store, surpassed my expectations!

Camellia Restaurant

I arrived the night before, just in time for the dinner reservation kindly booked by South Lodge themselves. The service, the food, the utter sense of indulgence, was like a teaser to the day ahead. Like many of us will admit during corporate event days, I was still in work mode. Trying to finish emails behind my menu, whilst simultaneously trying to choose from the exquisite food options. The conscientious waiter, fortunately, helped me decide with the chef’s recommendations. It was when he drew my attention to the extensive novel length wine menu, each page listed by country, that my attention was captivated. This was extraordinary and they clearly were passionate about attention to detail. I began to relax, switch off and take in my surroundings. I have a mantra that is, “wherever you are, be all there”. A gentle reminder to live in the moment, appreciate your surroundings, your company, and their time and effort to be there with you. The Camellia restaurant laid out over three rooms, had a wonderfully intimate and homely feel, with traditional country house style decor consisting of wooden paneling and luxury furnishings. The food itself was cooked to perfection, artistically presented with each element of the dish encouraging you to take your time and enjoy each mouthwatering blend of flavours.

Bedroom at South Lodge Hotel

Having been primed for the relaxing day ahead in the Spa, it was time to catch some beauty sleep in one of their unique and somewhat quirky style bedrooms. Most guests are unlikely to experience the same thing, for no two rooms are identical here! Each room is individually designed with comfortable furniture and charm in abundance. The only common factor is that they all overlook the vast beauty of the south downs. A breathtaking sight that I woke up to.

South Lodge Spa

It was finally time to hit the new 4120m² spa and see the results of several years of scrupulous planning and development. It is important to appreciate here that Danny Pecorelli’s long-standing and frankly phenomenal vision of this spa is a pure labour of love. The spa was designed with sustainability in mind and aesthetically compliments the landscape around it with its grass and sedum roof, and green oak cladding.

On arrival, at reception, guests are made to feel very welcome and very much at home with slippers, a robe and a quick tour of the facilities. I was expecting the usual, small sized indoor pool, sauna, steam room, cafe, gym and a couple of darkened relaxation rooms. But this was by far, no ordinary corporate gym and spa.

First, we toured through the Ridgeview beauty bar which had a very sociable, clean and comfortable layout, and featured four manicure and pedicure stations. Ridgeview wine was of course readily available in the nearby temperature controlled fridges to enjoy with your treatments. Next door to this was the Grizzly Barber, equipped for some seriously high standards of male grooming.

We passed through a retail space stocked full of a variety of branded products, as well as their in house range of ‘The Spa’ products, specially developed with the National Spa Factory. South Lodge is the only spa in the UK to offer treatments from Hungarian skincare, Omorovicza. Here I reluctantly had to tear myself away from wanting to test them all, so that we could go on to view the 14 nature-themed treatment rooms and mud room that were all nicely laid out in a horseshoe shape. Easily distracted, my attention was quickly diverted to the quirky wooden door plaques that said ‘busy as a bee’, until you slide them to say ‘free as a bird’; a sweet and fun way of indicating whether the room was in use or not. In retrospect, I perhaps should not have been swiping them all as I walked along the corridor!

These rooms were complimented perfectly with pre and post treatment deep relaxation suites, all peaceful and private. To my surprise and delight, in contrast to these traditional spa styled rooms, there was a more contemporary space filled with futuristic looking relaxation pods that emitted warmth, music, coloured lighting and vibrations, that gently massaged you in sync with the immersive sounds. They offered a completely new and exciting experience.

Infused Sauna

Onwards, we explored the salt and aromatic steam rooms, and juniper-infused sauna before viewing the most stunning 22m x 10m infinity edge pool, flanked with luxurious looking loungers. This was the jaw-dropping moment facilitated by the floor to ceiling windows that let in an abundance of natural sunlight that gloriously flooded the space. At that moment I found the design frankly breathtaking and felt as if I was partaking in a big reveal moment on grand designs!

Infinity Pool at South Lodge Spa

Eyes wide, we walked on as the fast beats of motivational music heralded the approach of the 200m² gym nearby. As a self-confessed fitness addict, I never expect too much from a corporate hotel gym, so it was fantastic to feel like I was coming home to what is my favourite, tried and tested Technogym equipment and functional TRX zone. The styling was a clever blend of high tech with an accent of retro sport, using a mix of new and old fashioned equipment to form much of the decor. The light and airy spin and holistic studio also would be a must use.

With so much detail to take in, we took a moment out on the gym terrace to enjoy the view. The last thing I expected to overlook was a vast 18m natural heated swim pond that is the first ever in the UK! This was an educating concept and incredibly forward thinking to health and wellness. My calling though was to the outdoor vitality hydrotherapy pool. A beautiful area to relax and enjoy an occasional dip, heated to perfection!

After receiving a divine ‘deep relaxation massage’ and swimming a few lengths of the pool, I meandered completely stress-free into the Botanica restaurant to once again enjoy their culinary delights. Serving fresh, seasonal and healthy dishes, it was refreshing to see creative plant-based and vegan dishes take the spotlight on the menu, assembled by head chef Jonathan Spiers. With food wastage avoided at every cost too, they certainly are doing their best to be ethical and environmentally friendly. A winning attitude I would say.

Botanica Restaurant

With so many incredible spaces and I don’t joke when I even include the ladies changing room here, there are plenty of options to find that sweet spot where you can indulge your senses and escape from it all, whenever that workload gets too much. Workload?… Now that’s a distant thought.

Exclusive Hotels and Venues Logo

South Lodge Spa is now officially open to the public!
Discover more about South Lodge Hotel and their corporate event packages that combine their impressive range of meeting and conference rooms with all the indulgent extras. Contact us at Votel Venues today. Email all enquiries, send an email to ask@votelvenues.com or call 02034 785 277.

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