Body & Soul: Ockenden Manor Spa
PUBLISHED: 00:38 31 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:59 20 February 2013
Ockenden Manor Spa, in the beautiful Tudor village of Cuckfield, is housed in a contemporary building designed to complement its surrounding landscape. Jenny Mark-Bell enjoys a Valentine's Day treat
Ockenden Manor Spa is brand new. So new, in fact, that the builders are still finishing off the car park when I visit. The spa is an addition to the picturesque Elizabethan hotel but in a contrasting, contemporary style. It has been designed to complement the landscape the pool has floor to ceiling windows enabling far-reaching Downs views, and there are bucolic decorative touches like leaf-patterned doors and pictures of wildflowers.
I am given a robe and slippers and told to change. My therapist Chloe collects me a short while later and takes me to my treatment room, which has high, open windows showing the tree tops. I love this throughout my massage, I can hear the wind blowing through the branches and birds singing. Its blissful.
Today Im trying the Whats Not to Love bespoke body massage, which uses Ren rose oil and combines acupressure and reflexology to detoxify, relax and invigorate.The massage is available for both men and women and is apparently popular with both, although men tend to favour deep tissue massage.
I have been asked to specify the kind of massage I like light, medium or firm and now Chloe asks me for details of areas in need of special attention. As always, I have niggly soreness in my neck and shoulders. I lie on a heated bed, listening to the wind playing in the trees and feel intensely peaceful before the massage even starts. Chloe begins by applying a warm cloth to my feet, making me feel light and buoyant. Then she massages my legs. Shes very thorough and I can feel all the tensions of a working week dissipate through her fingers. All the while, Im enveloped by the luxurious rose fragrance and soothing music.
The whole treatment is sublime, but the highlight comes when Chloe attends to my shoulders. My muscles have gnarled themselves into knots but Chloe irons them out with firm, confident strokes. The massage incorporates pressure point stimulation, culminating with gentle pressure on my head and neck.
With the massage over I pad behind Chloe to the Relaxation Room again, giving views over the surrounding countryside and curl up in a velvet armchair. Unfortunately I have another appointment, or I would certainly remain there much longer (and perhaps rest my eyes, just for a moment).
In the changing rooms theres a spirit of camaraderie, as the new members are as unfamiliar with the rules as I am (where do we put our robes when were finished with them?). Its novel for all of us, which makes it all the more exhilarating. I only wish that it was to become routine for me, as it is for them. Ockenden Manor is just what a spa should be a sanctuary where time stands still. I feel replenished, both mentally and physically.