The Spa at South Lodge: delivering a first-class service that's eco-friendly
With the Government clamping down on plastic waste and new independent body The Sustainable Spa Association forming to help spas reduce their water consumption, creating a business that’s eco-friendly is now as important as delivering a first-class service.
The Spa at South Lodge, hidden in West Sussex’s breathtaking countryside, opened in March with a mission to successfully merge the two, boasting respectable green credentials alongside a wellness ethos aimed at an array of client needs.
The 44,000sq ft spa building sits in the same 85 acres as South Lodge Hotel in Horsham, with clients transported to each via stretched electric tuk-tuks. However, this expansion isn’t surprising given that owner, Exclusive Hotels & Venues, also has Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa in Bagshot on its books, which is one of the best known wellness destinations in the UK and has won countless awards, including PB’s Residential Spa of the Year: 11 Rooms or More 2018.
“We’re the sister hotel of Pennyhill Park and we wanted to make our mark just like they did. We’ve got these amazing eco credentials and we’re going to use those to get our name out there,” says spa manager Sara Young. “We’re very lucky because there aren’t many spas that can say they are paper-free, make their own electricity [provided by biomass boilers and photovoltaic solar cells], and clean their own water.”
The spa is tucked into the natural contours of the land, thanks to its grass and wildflower roof, designed by architect Felce & Guy Partnership, which makes it look like it’s part of the rolling hills. This not only ties in with the business’s sustainability pledge, as the roof helps to insulate the building, but it also provides a natural habitat for nearby wildlife.
Although the spa isn’t completely plastic-free, plastic straws and cups have been banned and other measures are being implemented to make sure the business is doing all it can to reduce waste. “I’m looking at small changes that could have a big impact. For example, bio bags for clients to put their swimming costumes in when wet rather than plastic ones, and using compostable takeaway packaging in our poolside food and beverage operation Watershed, which we can recycle and use as compost for the grounds,” explains Young.
Images – first picture: indoor pool; above: sauna
Why invest in a spa?
Opening this mega spa didn’t just make good business sense, it was also the product of demand from the hotel’s guests. “We have a strong conference business at South Lodge – it made up 35% of our guests between April to December 2018. Our corporate bookings ask us what we can provide in the spa and wellness realm and now we can deliver a great experience,” says Young.
The spa houses a variety of facilities, ranging from 14 nature-themed treatment rooms (including one couple’s suite linked to a rasul), an indoor infinity-edge ozone-treated pool, outdoor vitality hydrotherapy pool, jasmine-infused sauna and two steam rooms (one salt and one herbal), as well as a 2,000sq ft gym.
The sauna room is glass-fronted, so guests can look out to views of the South Downs, providing the “wow” factor, while the spa also boasts what Young says is the “UK’s first heated outdoor swim pond”, which is warmed to 21–23ºC from April to October, depending on the ambient temperature. “Outdoor swimming is growing in popularity so this will help set us apart,” adds Young.
The gym houses a TRX rig, gym terrace for “alfresco” training – tying in with the spa’s message of “helping to bring the inside out and the outside in” – dedicated spin studio and a holistic studio, “where we will do yoga, Pilates and tai chi, along with fun activities, such as drum and bass boxercise and anger-management exercise classes – to help clients unwind at the end of a stressful day”, says Young.
The spa worked with creative designers and architects Sparcstudio on the project, which has an extensive knowledge of spa and wellness operations and requirements.
Image: the outdoor pool
What exclusive facilities does it have?
The spa’s sheer size also meant that a separate, “almost mini shopping centre space”, was created alongside the traditional spa area, housing standalone restaurant Botanica, which provides a range of healthy meals including the Wasted Burger – made entirely from leftover ingredients from juices made in the morning; and The Ridgeview Beauty Bar, sponsored by Ridgeview Sparkling Wine, offering express beauty services such as manicures, pedicures and brows with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine.
There is also a male grooming space, with local business partner Grizzly’s providing the barbering services; and a prominent retail area selling Exclusive Hotels’ own product range The Spa, which is also used at Pennyhill Park. “It’s about tapping into clients who would visit high-street salons and turning them into long-term guests who transition into the spa,” explains Young.
“We want to be clients’ one-stop shop, offering comparable prices to what they normally pay for these services while providing more of a ‘mini spa’ experience. Our manicures and pedicures are priced at a premium high-street rate and if guests enjoy this then they may book in for more.”
The spa has partnered with nail brand Jessica, distributed by Gerrard International, for its manicure and pedicure services. "When looking for brand partners... Gerrard International was a natural choice as our sister property Pennyhill Park already successfully works with them," says Young. ‘Mii, Spongelle and Scentered, along with Jessica, are all proving popular brands in our retail area."
The future looks bright for The Spa at South Lodge. Young’s long-term goal? “To cement our future with impressive sales and by winning industry awards.”
Image: The Ridgeview Beauty Bar