Spa breaks for men? Are Lancashire males ready for the personal grooming revolution?
PUBLISHED: 10:40 19 June 2015 | UPDATED: 11:53 19 June 2015
The boys want to be pamepered too, according to a recent report. Roger Borrell grabbed his manbag and headed for a spa day
Listen up, chaps. Put down the pie and pint and switch off the footie a moment and answer me this: Have you ever considered a luxurious spa treatment to gently soothe away your woes? Or perhaps a relaxing pamper day in a fluffy dressing gown and flip-flops rounded off with anti-ageing facial? Maybe a Himalayan Salt Foot Ritual?
No? Neither had I until a friend nagged me to try male grooming. As a result, I’d like to think I’m now a fully paid up member of that elite world of the perfectly moisturised metrosexual. But that would be stretching it further than a pilates instructor’s leotard.
Until I visited Stanley House Hotel & Spa at Mellor male grooming meant the occasional haircut, a morning shave (toilet paper ready to stem the flow of blood) and a comb. The comb I keep largely for sentimental reasons.
Now I discover I’ve been down there with the cavemen hence the complexion like a brontosaurus in a sandstorm. Men in their 30s are now spending £100 a month on anti-ageing creams, spa treatments and something called ‘guyliner’ in attempt to look like Brad Pitt. Even us more mature gents are happy to shell out £45 to look radiant.
Wendy Hope, the marketing manager at Stanley House, says there has been a definite surge of interest among men wanting to use the award-winning spa, opened just over two years ago as part of a multi-million pound development in the beautiful Ribble Valley.
‘It’s largely down to three factors. When couples marry here, it’s not just the bride who wants to look her best - the gent does too and he will make the most of our pre-wedding pamper packages and facial treatments.
‘We are also perfectly positioned to offer a rural retreat to the corporate market and the addition of our luxury spa has resulted in more men in the business community attending the spa to de-stress and relax.
‘The third growth area is the leisure market. We attract couples from across the UK with resort-standard facilities, particularly with specifically designed spa breaks, double treatment rooms and romantic surroundings.’
I don’t come into any of those categories but I still ended up with my feet in a copper bowl with a young lady called Chloe rubbing salts into them as part of a ‘Himalayan ritual.’ I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the poor lass but she told me: ‘It’s OK, I don’t have a problem with feet.’ What, even mine?
Actually, they were very clean because I’d spent the previous two hours in the Stanley House Thermal and Hydro Suite, a cutting-edge complex that floods with light from large windows showing off the Ribble Valley in all its glory.
The Hydro Pool is good for a soak, especially with such stunning views but, for me, the business end was the four thermal rooms. The first and probably my favourite was the herbal sauna which reached a steamy 60C. At its core, water dripped on star anise seeds to create a steam that cooked you like some ingredient in an exotic eastern stew. Resistance was useless and my muscles started to unknot.
Its neighbour was the Aroma Steam Room with an illuminated crystallised quartz stone that contained alleged healing properties. Across the way, the Salt Steam sauna reminded me of a hot but foggy day on Southport pier. The sea air atmosphere is supposed to clear the tubes. According to the sign by the door it also clears ‘accumulated feelings of anger, resentment, guilt, fear and jealousy.’ I thought the Prozac did that. It would take more than some hot steam to cleanse my soul so completely but it was very nice and it made me all the more appreciative of the Finnish wood-lined sauna where you could sit and watch the birds on the lake until you slowly melted away down the soak hole.
Several showers – warm and freezing – later, Chloe had me lie down in her smart treatment room. She remained remarkably calm considering the enormity of the task confronting her.
This skilful young woman used muscle-power unsuspected in her sylph-like frame to massage arms, hands, feet, legs, neck and shoulders before applying and then removing an array of unctions to my face. Then the coupe de grace – a mask that felt like my clock had been smothered in cool custard. I confess it was a very pleasant experience but not necessarily one I’d want to do regularly in the company of a sniggering photographer.
Did Chloe agree that men were now coming in for treatments. ‘Yes, they do,’ she said. ‘It’s mainly a couples thing but this is where I met my boyfriend when he came in a for a treatment.’ Love among the exfoliators!
If I was a chap with a face worth preserving I wouldn’t hesitate to make a return visit. What’s more, it wasn’t all spin - I did meet a man in the spa and, yes, he was a having a treatment as part of a package he’d booked with his wife. Did we sit in the sauna discussing cleansers and toners? No. Did we talk about football. I’m afraid we did.