Calcot & Spa: Investing for success

By Mark Smith


By Mark Smith

02 October 2020

We talk to spa director Cathy Ball about the unveiling of the a £500,000 refurbishment at Calcot & Spa in the UK’s Cotswolds

Calcot & Spa is an award-winning wellness destination set in 220 acres of beautiful Cotswold countryside. The spa hotel is part of The Calcot Collection luxury boutique hotel group, which encompasses Barnsley House and The Painswick, also in south-west England, as well as The Lord Crewe Arms in Northumberland.

Calcot offers 35 bedrooms and suites, two restaurants and its renowned spa, which recently debuted a comprehensive £500,000 [d552,000] refurbishment following the lifting of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

Interior designer Cathy Birtles has created a calming, restorative atmosphere with enhanced facilities for guests and members, including seven newly refurbished treatment rooms, Zenith sauna and steam rooms and a relaxation area with scenic views of the countryside.

The Calcot team have repurposed a 17th century barn to provide space for a refreshed guest arrival experience, installing a new booking system from Hart to maximise and control guest numbers for safety and comfort.

On the first floor, a brand-new yoga studio provides space for socially distanced classes, again with the benefit of stunning rural vistas. A £40,000 outdoor
gym with state-of-the-art Technogym equipment has also been created to encourage guests to exercise in their natural surroundings.

We talk to Cathy Ball, spa director at Calcot & Spa, about the post-lockdown changes.

Calcot Manor's front entrance

When did you reopen the spa and what has been the reaction from guests?

We had planned to open the spa on July 4 before reopening the hotel on July 8, but this was delayed, so we began by opening part of the spa as a lounge and café for hotel guests. Then, once we were able to start providing massages the rest of the spa reopened. Guests have been nicely surprised by the refurbishment.

How did you adapt your treatment menu?

Spas have always nurtured our emotional needs and now more than ever we wanted to reflect this in our treatment menu, so we introduced Aromatherapy Associates’ Relax and Sleep, Forest Therapy and Immune Support.

The atmospheric courtyard hot tub

How else has your business had to adapt to life in the post-lockdown environment?

We feel as though we have reopened a very different operation to what existed before. The fitness studio was previously small and was no longer fit for purpose under social distancing guidelines, so we moved the exercise classes across to the Barn where weddings and events used to take place.

As we were unable to offer classes due to Covid-19 regulations, we spread the gym into the old studio and built a fully functioning KOMPAN outdoor gym in the space of just five weeks. The investment we made in the spa was seen as a long-term asset and was justified by the fact that it could protect our membership revenue.

What are your most popular treatments now?

It is a bit early to tell. I am sure that the sleep treatments will prove popular once the pent-up demand for regular treatments has eased. We also offer Reiki for those guests who are still cautious about receiving a hands-on treatment.

How successful have you been in creating a ‘new normal’ within your operations?

We have done brilliantly. It became even more challenging when the guidelines demanded that clients and staff should wear masks while moving around the spa, but even then we incorporated the rules and pressed forward. These changes have been accepted by everyone and we are managing to socially distance with a smile – without any black and yellow tape or footprints marked on the floor!

Calcot Spa's homely mani and pedi area
Zenith has supplied the new thermal suite

“The team have used the furlough as an opportunity for personal and professional growth and have returned stronger for it. Elemis and Aromatherapy Associates provided excellent training opportunities for them throughout lockdown.”

Cathy Ball

Spa director, Calcot & Spa

What were the biggest challenges you faced?

Keeping in touch with our members during lockdown was critical. We set up an online fitness portal for them and this continues to be an asset for those wanting to exercise from home: we have continued our Zoom yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi classes even after reopening.

During lockdown we didn’t charge member fees. The average age of our membership is 58 and many were shielding, so managing their staged return and payments has been complicated.

Preparing the team’s return to work also took a lot of planning and preparation. Some staff had not ventured far from home during lockdown, so those who were most cautious returned in a part-time capacity at first and we conducted training sessions to go through the risk assessments and new processes in each department.

Calcot offers a light menu of nutritious light options

How have your team responded to the challenge?

The team have used the furlough as an opportunity for personal and professional growth and have returned stronger for it.

Elemis and Aromatherapy Associates provided excellent training opportunities throughout lockdown. Staff updated their compliance knowledge and we had mental health training sessions for managers and team members across the business.

Our therapists have been very busy with massages and when facials were permitted their days became more balanced. We recruited a new fitness team and the reception team is reduced in size to comply with social distancing. I am so proud of every one of them.

What positives have come from the experience?

I think the lockdown has given Calcot & Spa an opportunity to further develop the holistic direction of our business in response to the evident need for us all to protect and nurture our overall mental and physical wellbeing. This is something we have always known, but now we are seeing this publicly endorsed.

Spa statistics

Calcot & Spa
+ 44 (0)1666 890391 |

Owner: The Calcot Collection
Chairman: Richard Ball
Spa director: Cathy Ball
Pool project: Rio Pools
Interior spa design: Cathy Birtles
Spa design: Sparcstudio
Spa team: 56
Spa size: 840sqm
Treatment rooms: Seven
Fitness equipment: Technogym
Booking system: Hart
Outdoor gym: KOMPAN
Thermal suite: Zenith
Treatment beds: Avalon
Uniforms: Inline London
Towels/robes: Majestic
Product partners: Aromatherapy Associates, Elemis, Jessica

Be inspired...

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Inline London is a leading supplier of bespoke design corporate clothing, staff uniforms and branded wellness workwear, click below


Be refreshed...

Specialists in hotel transformation, find out more about Zenith refurbishment specialists below


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