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5 * Bubbles Award,

By Carole Hayman


Slimmeria Retreat, East Sussex

A charming and beautiful retreat, maintained to the best of high quality and comfort. The facilities include luxurious accommodation and welcoming common areas including a sitting room with large TV, music and books. There is an outdoor swimming pool in the well-maintained walled garden, a gym and chill out solarium with comfortable loungers over-looking the patio and pool area and beyond the garden is their own vineyard.

First impressions

A sweeping drive off a tiny country lane near Battle brings you to the front of the imposing Hye House, a gorgeous Georgian mansion, reclaimed and modernized with great care and taste. The house itself is tucked away in peaceful and completely private seclusion, surrounded by trees but with great views over rolling fields to the downs.

What’s on offer

This is a Detox retreat first and foremost, which specialises in weight loss and returning its clients to bright-eyed, bushy-tailed vigour. It’s a kind of cross between a luxurious hotel and a boot camp – with Galia, its smiling host, careful but firm in her monitoring and advice. She has learned the hard way though doing every kind of detox process and diet herself! There is a busy program of weight loss exercise, including long, brisk, all weather walks (like 8 miles in pouring rain! ) keep fit, yoga and dancing. I now know how to Zumba, flamenco stomp and belly dance.

There is a great range of treatments available, with really practiced therapists who ask all the right questions about your body before beginning.

The retreat offers several packages – see website www.slimmeria.com for up to date prices and deals.

Which treatments did you have?

I had aromatherapy, hot stone and foot massages. A muscle-soak bath and a facial, which included a head massage. Bliss!

What were the treatments like?

Well – like I say, bliss! They were all excellent, with really expert and kind attention from the therapists.

What else could you have?

A lot of different massages including relaxation , honey, coconut, sports, deep tissue, cupping, hot stone, aromatherapy, deep back, deep leg and foot, hand, massages. There’s also Chinese and Indian head massage, cedar barrel steam, muscle soak bath and various facials. For the summer there is a decent sized outside pool. They like to do keep fit and yoga in the large garden – weather permitting.

Food facts

The low calorie diet is strictly vegetarian with a mixture of raw, warm and hot food and juices. It was all delicious and beautifully presented and varied from porridge with raisons and cinnamon, to hot peppery soup and carrot & apple juice. There were even dressings within the calorie count. I specially liked the tiny stuffed peppers and the ‘coleslaw’. With much of the food being raw, the act of chewing becomes part of the meal and really makes you feel you have eaten. I wasn’t actually hungry the whole time I was there. Also served were detox teas like lemon and ginger . Every morning began with a hot water and lemon drink.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely! I lost 6 pounds in just a few days and regained a clear skin, eyes and some joie de vivre. The package prices vary depending on how many days you stay and how luxurious is the room. You can get cheaper ones if you are prepared to share rooms and bathrooms.

We loved

The kindness and the individual care that each person was afforded. This to me was symbolized by the fact that on arrival you are immediately offered a ‘comfort’ blankie in a colour of your choice. This never left me (or anyone else) the entire time I was there and was useful for everything from covering me during yoga, warming my feet, draping round my shoulders when watching telly or flicking through celeb mags on the vast , white, chill-out sofas, or simply cuddling like a friend ( - and no, I didn’t actually suck it!). In fact it took me right back to the one I had as a baby and refused to abandon until it went up in smoke in a fire in my parents’ house . I think I was then 40.

Who do you think would like it?

Well, anybody who is prepared to go through a bit of pain to feel so much better at the end. Galia has a regularly returning mix of British, Swiss, Chinese and Russian clients as well as professionals from the IT, corporate and banking sectors (rich folk!). But her list goes right through to artists, musicians, models, athletes and even the odd Saudi Prince.

Why did you give the spa a 5* rating?

It’s just lovely to be there in every way. It’s calm, comfortable, pampering, and gracious with a really good vibe. I felt my head, as well as my body, had been given a good clean-out and a spiritual re-awakening. There’s a positive can-do energy about it – it’s Galia and her staff, really – which is inspiring and urges you on.

November 2011