Searching for a work life balance

It’s been pretty busy around here these last few months. I often advise my clients to reclaim some work life balance by signing up with a Virtual Assistant.  So today, I thought it was time for me to live and breathe my mantra, to take a step back and just relax, refresh and recharge The PA Portal’s batteries. So, I went on a spa day!


champneys logo 300x144 - Searching for a work life balanceI’ve been to quite a few spas over the years, but in my opinion, nothing compares to the Champneys resorts.  I think once you go, there is no going back – to any other spa experience, end of.  If you’ve decided you need time out, then go for it – treat yourself! Champneys is certainly the place to do just that.  They have been around since 1925 and are the UK’s original health spa, so they should know what they are doing, shouldn’t they?

Eastwell Manor Spa Hotel Review

FullSizeRender1 256x300 - Searching for a work life balanceSo, this blog is a plain and simple review of their new spa at Eastwell Manor, Kent.  I’m not being paid to write this (I wish!).  I’m just sharing my experience with you, pointing out the best bits and the not so good bits, which you might find useful for any future visits. So, here goes.

Eastwell Manor, is a 300-acre country house and estate, situated about 5 minutes’ drive from junction 9 of the M20 near Ashford, Kent.  It’s fairly easy to find, but once you’re on the estate, the signage to the spa is a little…well…a little bit ‘little’.  Fine if you’re walking, but even driving at 5 miles an hour you literally have to drive right up to the sign to see the tiny text and arrows. So my advice is drive really really slow.  Blink and you will miss it, believe me.

Warm reception

FullSizeRender3 225x300 - Searching for a work life balanceFirst impressions count, and the wow factor is certainly here as you step through the door.   Once we found our way to reception we were shown straight to a stunning room for a beautiful buffet breakfast with endless tea options, smoked salmon and natural yoghurts.  As someone who has organised countless events at beautiful venues across the UK, I couldn’t fault the warm welcome at reception.

Champneys acquired Eastwell Manor last year, the first acquisition for 10 years, and opened for business officially in April 2017.  They’re spending £8m in total on the refurb, and you can certainly see where the money is going.  Although the spa building itself appears pretty much finished, the 62-bedroom hotel is currently going through a major refit.  The spa gym however, was extremely well kitted out, with top of the range Technogym equipment with hi-tech Unity media screens. If the whole hotel gets the same treatment as the spa, it’s going to be stunning!

 It’s all in the detail

FullSizeRender 4 268x300 - Searching for a work life balanceThe attention to detail in the décor is fantastic, beautiful textures, flowers and ceramics adorn every eyeline. You certainly feel like you are living in a magazine shoot when you are lounging in the Relaxation room, or sipping something fizzy in the Restaurant.

The 3 course lunch was as satisfying as the breakfast, but unfortunately the service was not up to the usual Champneys standard, which was a shame.  It wasn’t the team’s fault, I’m just not sure why Eastwell Manor are not offering the buffet style lunch like their other locations? It would certainly speed things up and ease the strain on the kitchen.  Having said that, the Champneys menus are incredible, they follow their food values religiously – offering a wide selection of seasonal products with intense flavour, whilst being extremely healthy and nutritious. You know every mouthful is good for you, even the sorbet and raspberry fool.  There are no ‘syns’ to watch here!

The Treatments

After lunch, we flip flopped our way to the spa reception and checked in for our treatments.  Whilst the Champneys in-house products are fantastic, I am a massive Elemis fan, so upgraded willingly to their facial and massage combo.  I have to say a massive thank you to my therapist Catherine.  I have never had a better massage, she got knots out I never even knew I had!  A true professional and expert in her craft, which of course every business needs. She has 18 years experience there, the same time that I’ve been a PA. She is really trying to embrace all the changes, and there are a lot of changes for the staff!  I get the impression the staff would welcome a bit more training, they do seem a little lost and lacking in leadership at times. The Elemis facial was amazing, the Pro-collagen Marine Cream is the stuff of gods.


11 225x300 - Searching for a work life balanceThe indoor and outdoor pools are well heated and a good size, and the double day beds dotted around poolside were so cosy and comfy, if a little sparse in number.  On a good day, there will be plenty of seating with the outdoor areas, but today was cloudy and it was a little bit cramped, although the linen privacy curtains separating the beds were welcome. There was the usual jacuzzi, steam room and sauna as you’d expect, again maybe a little on the small size for a busy day. It’s important to ensure every customer’s needs can be accommodated. Overall though, a serene experience.



The Estate

FullSizeRender1 1 225x300 - Searching for a work life balanceAfter we’d showered and handed back our fluffy waffle robes, we took a gentle stroll around the stunning Neo-Elizabethan manor house gardens.  The stone terrace overlooks the extensive lawns and striking fountain.  You could believe you are stepping back in time, if it wasn’t for the luxurious egg shaped loungers nestled in the yew hedges that remind you, you are at Champneys.

It was a pleasure to also discover that the original house dates back to around 1550 and has royal connections.  Built by Richard Plantagenet (Richard of Eastwell), who claimed to be a son of Richard III of England. It was then latterly home to the Duke of Edinburgh, the second son of Queen Victoria, and whose daughter became a Princess of Romania.

So, will I go back?

Absolutely!  Although there were obviously some things that need improving, it’s clear to see they are on a journey, and haven’t quite got there yet.  If they can bring all the Champneys magic together, whilst tweaking the little issues, then the spectacular setting will make this the best Champneys hotel resort of all.  What’s more it’s on my doorstep, so of course I will be back.  See you there!

Work life balance

This review was undertaken privately and all content is my own personal opinion.  I did not receive any perks or payment.