How Glasshouse Retreat is reinventing weight-loss for a new decade

Establishing Glasshouse Retreat wasn’t exactly a natural career progression for owners Joy and Brian Jarvis. The couple are property builders by profession – under Jarvis Development Group – but Joy’s passion for her vegetarian, alcohol-free and exercise-packed lifestyle eventually led to the birth of the Essex-based weight-loss and detox retreat in September 2019. 

“I’ve always eaten well and exercised. I’ve been going to spas and health retreats for years, and those places were all lovely in their own way but my friends and I would all leave pounds heavier than when we arrived because of the food; things like freshly baked breads with an array of butters and cheeses for breakfast,” says Jarvis. “You do eat more than you should at lunchtime and then there’s three courses in the evening. It’s always been an area that I’ve found to be lacking at other retreats and it’s been my dream to be able to do it my way.”

The diet programme 

The food is a focal point at Glasshouse, with the menu plans aiming to turn raw, plant-based cuisine from flavourless to culinary creations. Raw food cook Miguel Gouveia has created tasty, nutritionally balanced options to be tailored to guests’ needs, depending on their plan and length of stay. “Five to seven days is the optimal amount of time if you want to detox, and I think once people realise that we’re here, they’ll come two or three times a year for that length of time,” says Jarvis. 

There are two menu plans for guests wishing to complete a detox – the Weight Loss Diet, consisting of three plant-based meals a day; and the Pure Juicing Diet, a vitamin and mineral-rich juice for breakfast and lunch followed by a plant-based meal for dinner, recommended for more intense weight loss. 

“We’ve also got the Equilibrium Diet, which is for people who don’t want to lose weight and who are generally healthy but maybe they’re really stressed with work or have been eating too much sugar, for example, and want to rebalance through their diet,” explains Jarvis. Guests on the Equilibrium plan eat three plant-based meals a day billed as “healthy, relaxed and detoxifying”. No caffeine, alcohol or animal products are served at the retreat. 

 There’s a strong focus on getting guests to their optimum health – or at least firmly on the right path – while on a retreat at Glasshouse. Every guest’s journey starts with a thorough consultation in which they discuss their medical history, goals and concerns with a wellness consultant, who completes a detailed analysis using Tanita body-composition scales. 

The fitness facilities 

This forms the basis of the guest’s tailored stay, with specific exercise, nutrition and treatment recommendations. Aside from the carefully planned food, guests are expected to spend a lot of their time exercising, partaking as much as is possible (and safe for each individual to do so) in weekly programmes filled with yoga, fitness classes and sessions in the Matrix-equipped gym. 

“Many of the retreats I’ve been to myself didn’t have a gym,” says Jarvis. “They would just have a pool and some sort of dance or fitness studio. I also needed enough land here because walking is very important, as well as the peaceful atmosphere that is created by being surrounded by this much land.” The seven acres of Essex countryside that enclose the property are incorporated into every guest’s programme with a suggested hour-long guided walk in the early morning. 

The spa programme

“There is a recommended programme that we would like people to take,” explains Jarvis. “You get up in the morning, have your hot lemon and water, walk for an hour and then either have treatments in the morning and do your exercise in the afternoon, or vice versa. We encourage everybody to go to as many classes as they can, and if there’s another walk in the afternoon I would advise doing another one.” 

Though by no means an afterthought, the spa facilities at Glasshouse are more of a complementary addition than the focal point of the concept. The 12m heated pool and salt-block sauna sit below a glass ceiling flanked by relaxation beds. The facilities are also available in day spa packages with treatments and fitness classes. Residential and non-residential guests are split between two treatment areas – the eight central treatment rooms and separate Studio Spa with three rooms and two nail service stations.

The treatment menu

Speaking about the treatment offer, Jarvis says: “Elemis is our main product house. I’ve always liked the brand, and the products are plant-based and largely vegan.” Lava Shells massages and Dermalux LED facial add-ons are also on offer, as are a comprehensive menu of waxing and threading services, henna brows, lash extensions and lifts, and nail treatments. Guests can also book life coaching and meditation classes and cryotherapy sessions. 

Another core pillar in Glasshouse’s wellness philosophy, the retreat’s Life Cube 2 cryotherapy chamber features on every guest’s programme as long as they aren’t contraindicated. “When you’re building something from the ground up, you have to look at what’s out there at the moment as well as trying to anticipate what’s going to be the next big thing, so the cryo chamber is us future-proofing ourselves,” says Jarvis. 

Celebrated for its myriad purported benefits, including fat burning, soothing muscular injuries and cellular regeneration, the Life Cube 2 chamber maintains a constant temperature of between -85 and -110°C. 

Jarvis also invested in the Lipofirm Pro body-sculpting device from Pollogen after being particularly impressed with its results. “My son had a 35-minute session on the highest setting around his middle and afterwards I couldn’t believe it. It was astonishing, it really does work,” she says. 

 Jarvis has high hopes that her personal approach to healthy living will resonate, and that guests will find lasting success sparked by their stay: “People are realising how important it is to look after yourself, that this is all good for you. I’ve just tried to do it right.”

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