Perhaps it's the lack of pink fluffy towels or that the men in and around Essex are a tad more in tune with their feminine side, but I've never seen as many men in a spa than the Lifehouse.
Wandering around in their white robes and slippers, men can be seen happily indulging in a bit of quality 'me' time in almost equal numbers to women at this retreat tucked away in Thorpe-le-Soken.
Admittedly, they hadn't come in big groups of lads like a 'male bonding' style session, but instead with their wives or girlfriends.
But if any of them had been dragged there kicking and screaming, they didn't appear to ant to leave in a hurry.
The Lifehouse Spa is certainly different to the numerous spas I have visited and I can see why it would appeal to the male clientele.
The purpose built contemporary spa itself gives it a very modern, fresh,clean finish.
Huge glass windows overlook the 130 acre English Heritage Gardens which firmly place you in the lap of nature and away from any hustle bustle.View image
I was booked in for a personalised massage during my stay which I felt I needed having been working at the gym so hard of late.
As it was a personal massage, it was great to be able to tell my therapist exactly what I wanted.
I opted for a deeper massage with more attention to be paid to my back.
Normally when I get massages, I'm too afraid to ask what I want - even if the massage means I get a good pummeling.
After a brief consultation, my therapist got working on the exact areas I had asked her to work on.
Her hands moved in various circular motions and with just the right amount of pressure on my back before moving on to the front of my body.View image
Meanwhile my senses were heightened with the smell of ESPA products she was applying.
She told me they only used these products because of their plant-based ingredients.
It's hard not to feel dosey when getting a good massage like this and I soon felt myself in the grip of a light snooze.
The soothing music just made it even harder to bring myself back to the room. But my rumbling tummy gave me the reality check I needed, to get up and get ready for dinner. I was pleased to hear that the food served at the spa restaurant showcases a lot of the local produce from Essex.
And as is customary with spas, it offers the diner a wide range of healthy choices.
I opted for the spicy king prawn stir fry for a starter and a salmon on a bed of greens as my main.
The portion sizes were generous and I really didn't have room for the deliciously sounding desserts.
As tempting as it was, it was my mum who indulged in the hot sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce accompanied with vanilla ice-cream dessert. She told me in good faith that the pudding was just screaming at her to be eaten.
Besides she reminded me we had every intention to walk the trim trail within the grounds to discover the oldest eucalyptus tree in the morning to burn it off!
The spa runs a number of packages to suit individuals but perhaps one of their most popular ones is The Detox Express. It's designed for those with busy lifestyles to come along after work on Friday and leave on Sunday evening following dinner. With those of us pledging to remain dry in January and perhaps even into February, it's a perfect way to avoid the pub.
The weekend starts with helping you detox through the elimination of food on day one and replacing it with juices. Food is then slowly reintroduced through freshly prepared healthy dishes throughout the second and third day.
The body is taken care of through a massage and reflexology treatment as well as spending time in the general spa area.
It sounds tougher than it is but with juices like beetroot, celery, carrot and ginger and muesli made of oats, raisins, goji berries, pumpkin seeds, desiccated coconut soaked in apple juice enriched with coconut cream, it's hardly a starvation diet.
And if that wasn't enough, you also get a tasty nourishing night cap of warmed coconut milk with 70% dark chocolate and cinnamon stick twizzle delivered direct to your room. Talking of which, the rooms in the hotel are exceptionally big.
My room had a massive bed complete with three pillows comfortably lying side by along the width of the bed.
There was also a lovely sofa to relax on to watch television and yet there was still enough room to do a good few cartwheels comfortably.
And just to give you an idea of the sheer size of the room, the standing floor lamp with a 3 foot diameter shade looked like a small toy one located to the side of the room. Perhaps that was the reason I managed to bump my head on it when walking from one end of the room to the other.
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