Behind Dormy House










For a sprawling hotel with hundreds of rooms, filling a spa with guests is quite straightforward, for a boutique bolthole with limited accommodation capacity, it can be necessary to look elsewhere to generate spa revenue.

This is the approach adopted by the new House Spa at Dormy House Hotel, a country retreat in the Cotswolds, which opened this month and will offer an exclusive membership programme designed to reflect the quality of the destination and to bring in more than £33,000 a month.

“We’re going to have an exclusive cap on membership, only allowing 200 people to be a part of it,” explains spa manager Zoe Douglas. “We want that five-star impeccable attention to detail, and to make sure our members are always able to have one-on-one personal training sessions whenever they want them, use all the equipment when they want to, and always have space in the relaxation lounge.”

At £2,000 for the year, the memberships will bring in some £400,000 annually once all 200 have been sold. Membership includes 50 personal training sessions and unlimited use of the spa facilities and members’ gym (a private space separate from the hotel guests’ gym), and discounts on spa retail products. However, treatments are still payable at full rate. Douglas estimates that members will account for roughly 40% of treatment revenue, and has already filled more the 20% of the membership slots.

Douglas says the remaining 60% of revenue will come from day spa users and hotel guests, and initially she plans only to take bookings for full-day or half-day spa packages. “We’ve had so many enquiries about spa packages, from companies running events on the estate,” she adds.


Spread the word

With so much interested before the spa is even open, Douglas doesn’t think marketing will be a challenge. The refurbishment of Dormy House has generated a lot of interest from locals, she says, and the hotel has partnered with boutique travel company Mr and Mrs Smith and with online directory Spa Breaks. “We don’t want to devalue things by putting adverts out or doing leaflet drops,” says Douglas. “And I don’t think we’ll have to worry about word of mouth bringing people into the spa.”

The spa, which opened last week (February 4), is the last phase of a £10million refurbishment of Dormy House Hotel. Designed by architect Sparcstudio, the spa feels as much like a country house living room as it does a luxury retreat, and the interiors are fitted with on-trend Scandinavian-style design elements, all clean lines and fresh colours. “It’s just like stepping into your own home, but with that five-star service,” explains Douglas. 

The family that owns the Farncombe Estate, on which Dormy House is situated, is originally from Denmark, Douglas explains, which provided the inspiration for the Scandinavian design. And while that’s as far as the theme goes, an emphasis on heritage is present in all aspects of the spa, from the signature rituals to the complimentary snacks to the art on the walls. “We have used local sculptors and painters to the area for our artwork,” Douglas says.

Likewise, the famous Cotswold lavender has snuck its way into the spa in various guises – in the teas and shortbread served to clients in the relaxation lounge post treatment, for example, or scenting a steam room in the thermal suite. “The signature therapy, which we’ve created ourselves, is a lavender sleep treatment,” adds Douglas. “It’s a two-and-a-half-hour treatment, which we recommend is done in the evening. There’s body brushing with different kinds of brushes for different parts of the body, and we do a flowing, smooth massage and a beautiful foot ritual at the start with fresh lavender and essential oils.”


On brand

The House Spa’s skincare partners have also been selected in part for their roots in the Cotswolds. Temple Spa skincare and aromatherapy line, already used in the hotel rooms, is the main line in the spa. “Mark and Liz Warom [the brand’s founders] are local as well,” says Douglas. “They use a lot of organic and natural products, which is the direction we wanted to take. It’s not too highly priced, so it’s accessible for retail and they produce most of the treatments for us as well.”

Alongside Temple Spa, Dormy House has also taken on products from the Jane Scrivner range, whose eponymous founder is also local to the area. “We’re using her mud and body scrub, and I think we’re going to introduce her oils into the facial massage as well,” says Douglas.

These brands, both relatively niche when compared to big players in the professional skincare market, might seem an unusual choice, but Douglas says that she feels natural brands are a better fit in the rural setting of the spa than a scientific or cosmeceutical range. The nail care provider is also an unlikely name – trendy consumer brand Butter London, famous for its unusual colours. “We wanted to use something that was a bit different,” says Douglas. “Something that was quite funky looking and up to date.” It will be complemented by gel manis using Gelish to complete the package.