SPEAKING SPA WITH DAISY FINER
If you haven’t jumped on the health kick band wagon yet, then you may have started to notice that friends’ and colleagues’ dinner plates alike are getting greener. And that’s not a buzz from a text message, it’s someones digital device reminding them to log meals, and get up and move around or even go to the gym, before heading away for a weekend of detox and de-stressing. This trend seems to be the output of the growing culture surrounding the concept of Spa.
This weekend marked the launch of the new bright and beautiful http://spa.kitchen/, the brain child of Daisy Finer. For those in the wellbeing know, Daisy is THE person to go to about all things spa, being incredibly busy as the Spa Guide editor for Conde Nast Traveller and Tatler, as well as a regular contributor to magazines like Vanity fair! Consequently she obviously knows what makes a good spa experience and how to transfer wellbeing wonders into one’s everyday life. So when your calendar is as hectic as Daisy’s is, then one can imagine that finding time to take a few moments out are hard to find. We were therefore very lucky to spend a sunny morning in her own kitchen discussing our mutual love or spa.
WHY DID YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SPA?
Everyone loves a good massage, but what has become apparent in the last ten years is that spas have become so much more than a feather stroking. Instead they have become serious places to reboot and reset yourself. The best are even an education. The word spa has come to encompass so much. Most of the time it has nothing to do with the original water source concept, and is instead indicative of a health experience. From yoga retreats to destinations spas and fitness camps – to spa these says means to take time out for yourself and return home feeling better, not worse. What’s not to love? The first really life-changing trip I did was with a company called In:spa who are still going strong today (www.inspa-retreats.com). They take over beautiful boutique properties and they fly in healthy chefs, personal trainers etc – it’s a group experience, with lectures, treks, a gentle detox, afternoon massages. They encapsulate a new breed of holidays focused on wellbeing.
WHY DO YOU THINK SPA HAS BECOME ONE OF THE ESSENTIAL EXPERIENCES NOW IN DAILY LIFE AS WELL AS TRAVEL?
For all the reasons we all know – we are overstretched, busy and stressed! We need as many pauses as we can grab. Spa time is a time of pause – a time to breathe deep and reflect. Brands like www.ila-spa.com – with their wild harvested ingredients and incredible smells (try their Vital Energy oil) are ensuring an authentic spa experience at home and really raising the bar. Meanwhile Grayshott in Surrey now offers digestive reboots in England and every hotel in London has a spa umbilically attached – the Mandarin Oriental is still one of the best, and the Bulgari has the best swimming pool. Even without a swanky spa, living mindfully and eating consciously are small but huge transforming approaches to life that we should all try to adopt.
DO YOU THINK THAT SPA HAS BECOME MORE ACCESSIBLE TO MEN AS WELL AS WOMAN?
Yes I do. Masses of hotels now not only offer treatments especially geared to men, but also ritual spa experiences for couples – I think it is understood that men want in. Alongside this many of the medi spas I have visited have more male guests than females, I think men like the solution approach and the hard science behind the numerous tests (everything from standard blood pressure and cholesterol to DNA) on offer. Places like Henri Chenot in Merano Italy and Viva Mayr in Austria are as popular with men as they are women.
HAS THE SPA EXPERIENCE CHANGED MUCH OVER THE YEARS YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH IT? WHAT HAS BEEN LOST AND WHAT NEW HAS COME IN?
I think the locker room, extended gym/leisure centre feel of spas is now fading. No longer is the spa shoved into the basement cellar as an afterthought! The look, mood and feel are so important – as is product choice and the calibre of the therapists. Goodbye beauty school drop out, hello healing hands.
WHAT ARE THE ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS THAT MAKE UP A GREAT SPA EXPERIENCE?
For me it is about the cohesion of the experience. So that every element sings together. What is the point of a lymphatic massage followed at lunch by an obligatory basket of white bread stuffed with sugar. Consumers today want decent food with a respected provenance, fresh juices, beautiful candles and smells, warm hands and hearts and a setting that invites them to drop and remember who they are. Its all in the detail – from the literature on hand to inspire transformation to a quiet nook to curl up in and read.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATIONS BEHIND SPA.KITCHEN?
I witnessed a recent national obsession with healthy eating, and the likes of Deliciously Ella and Madeleine Shaw have raised a storm. But this made me consider the many highly qualified experts that many spas hold, and the delicious food that they showcase – so many great recipes that no-one knows about! I wanted to provide a space to highlight the glorious feast world of spas and retreats. The site is a source of holiday inspiration but it is also about bringing the spa experience home.
WE LOVE THE FACT YOU HAVE A LIBRARY SECTION ON SPA.KITCHEN! WHY DO YOU THINK BOOKS ARE ALSO ESSENTIAL FOR THE SPA EXPERIENCE?
As a source of inspiration, advice and clarity. There is so much information out there and sometimes we need something steady to use as our anchor and provide secure guidelines. Beyond health books, a good read also allows us to escape, sit still, gather magic. I believe more spas out there should bring both books and music into the experience. They are simple reminders of the joy and richness of life – and are often the first thing to go when we are busy.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKS FROM YOUR SPA.KITCHEN LIST? WHY DID YOU SELECT THEM?
I wanted to a real mix of classic holiday reads so that people knew when they were stuck for some guaranteed good they could head to S.K. As a mother of three small children I no longer want to waste my time on something second rate. Meanwhile I really enjoyed seeing all my favourite cook books and health tomes gathered together into one place. Sane New World is an amazing read for anyone struggling with mental health issues – Ruby Was speaks from experience. Ariana Huffington’s Thrive should be a must-have for every working mother as it reminds us not to push ourselves over the edge and how important sleep and rest are. Meanwhile books like The China Study and Eastern Body Western Mind are incredible resources that I dip into time and time again.
WHAT ARE THE TOP TOPICS SPA’S SHOULD COVER THROUGH LITERATURE?
I think the point is to be as expansive as possible. Everything from poetry to cookbooks to the latest in scientific research is relevant to a health experience. I think that clichéd phrase ‘mind, body and spirit’ is as applicable to books as it is to the whole spa experience. Yoga, food and nutrition, ancient wisdom, emotional intelligence, travel – all are relevant.
WHAT ARE YOU READING? WHAT DO YOU WANT TO READ NEXT?
I am currently dipping between Coleman Barks wonderful translation of Rumi’s Bridge to The Soul as I am picking poems for SPA.Kitchen’s weekly Sunday Sanctuary email, and Anne Tyler’s Spool of Blue Thread – but I have to admit I am usually too tired to progress much at home and have shelves of books I cant wait to read. I need a spa break!!!